Can you make mulled wine in a slow cooker? I did, and it made my house smell like Christmas (who needs a Yankee Candle?)

Psst… are the kids asleep yet? Time to get the slow cooker out and make some mulled wine - it is Christmas after all…

A collage of images of mulled wine being made in a slow cooker
(Image credit: Future)

See that slow cooker you’ve got sitting in the kitchen corner? It can cook more than stews and casseroles this winter you know. Ever thought of brewing mulled wine in it? Well, now you have.

After previously making hot chocolate in a slow cooker, I started to ponder what other festive beverages I could conjure up in this convenient kitchen appliance of mine, and with Christmas in full swing, mulled wine seemed the obvious choice. I can’t say I’m a massive fan of red wine, but give me mulled wine in the winter or sangria in the summer and I’m good. My husband is the mulled wine connoisseur in our family (he certainly gives the Christmas market mulled wine a run for its money!) and loves to make it every Christmas Eve, however, we peaked earlier this year especially when I found out that slow-cooked mulled wine was a thing - and I just had to try it.

Now, if you want to fill your home with the smell of warm red wine and festive spices (£7 cheaper than buying a festive Yankee Candle might I add) you really must try brewing some mulled wine in your slow cooker. It’s super simple, plus you only need a handful of ingredients and the slow cooker does pretty much everything for you. I’ve had my slow cooker for well over two years now and not once have I brewed mulled wine in it - and I’ve been missing a trick that's for sure.

For those of you wondering how to make mulled wine, never fear, I’ve included step-by-step instructions and an ingredients list below to make it much easier for you to recreate at home. The recipe I’ve chosen serves 8-10 making it an ideal Christmas cocktail for sharing - which you can have simmering in the background whilst you prep Christmas foods or entertain loved ones during the holidays. 

Just don’t forget to take a moment when enjoying this brew. Close your eyes, and absorb the flavours, the aroma, and the festive memories. Christmas can be a whirlwind so it's worth taking a moment every once in a while, and if sipping on mulled wine is your moment, then enjoy.

How to make mulled wine in a slow cooker

Before you begin, you will need to double check you have everything you need to make mulled wine in a slow cooker, including a slow cooker of course (I’ve listed some of my favourite slow cookers below for those of you looking to upgrade your current model)

You will also need a large spoon for stirring, a ladle for serving, and mugs or heat-resistant glass mugs - the choice is yours. For those of you wondering, I opted for tall Whittard SoHo glasses to serve my mulled wine in. I've also gone for a sweet mulled wine recipe, but you could opt for just red wine and leave out the orange juice and sugar if preferred.

Also, remember to buy a spare orange or apple for decorating - just in case you’re feeling a tad fancy when you’ve got guests over. A cinnamon stick or two, and some star anise seeds wouldn’t go a miss either if you’re all for presentation.

You will need:

  • 75cl bottle of red wine
  • 300 ml (1/2 pint) water
  • 300 ml (1/2 pint) orange juice
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3x mulled wine spice sachets (read packet instructions for how many per ml)
  • 150 ml (1/4pt) brandy
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 apple
  • A slow cooker of course!
  • Extras: Orange, cinnamon stick, star anise for decorating

Step 1

Ingredients to make mulled wine; oranges sliced, apples, jug of orange juice bottle of red wine and slow cooker

(Image credit: Future)

Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker, except for the brandy, and set your slow cooker to a low heat. Pop the lid on.

Step 2

Close up of mulled wine in a slow cooker with orange slices and apple slices

(Image credit: Future)

Leave the mulled wine to warm through for 1 hour and 30 minutes. After this time, add the brandy and stir. Leave for another 30 minutes.

Step 3

Mulled wine in two glasses with slow cooker, mulled wine sachets and brandy bottle in the background

(Image credit: Future)

After 2 hours your mulled wine is ready to be served. Spoon carefully into your chosen mugs or heatproof glasses and enjoy. Cheers!

Other mulled wine recipes to try at home:

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What is mulled wine made of?

Mulled wine is traditionally made with red wine, mixed spices such as star anise, cinnamon, and cloves as well as lemon zest and sugar. Mulled wine can be altered depending on your tastebuds and preference. You can add brandy to mulled wine to make it have a stronger, deeper flavour. You can add orange juice to mulled wine to make it sweeter and lighter in flavour. You can also add fresh fruit such as apples or oranges thinly sliced to make mulled wine fruiter. You can even add honey if you want to make it even sweeter.

Nowadays you can buy mulled wine spice bags that include the classic spices associated with mulled wine e.g. cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Mulled wine spice bags can be added to the mulled wine brew and removed before serving. They work just as well as buying and adding all the spices individually. You often get a few spice bags in one pack too which means you can make mulled wine several times over the festive season.

You can buy mulled wine spice bags from a variety of different retailers but in this specific recipe, I used Cartwright & Butlers Mulled Wine Spice Bags.

What wine is good for mulled wine?

Red wines such as Merlot, Zinfandel, and Grenache are recommended for making mulled wine. Fruitier wines work nicely with both the sweetness and spice of mulled wine. Go for medium to full-bodied red wines that are dark and fruity.

If you want to add a bit more of a kick to your Christmas cocktail, we’d recommend a tablespoon or two of brandy to make it extra warming. You could also try a splash of Cointreau, sloe gin, or Grand Marnier if you want to push the boat out.

For those of you looking for an easy option, you can buy readymade mulled wine in a range of different supermarkets including Harvey Nichols Mulled Wine, 75cl Waitrose Mulled Wine, and M&S Red Mulled Wine.

Mulled wine being made in a slow cooker with lid on and spoon to one side

(Image credit: Future)

Does the alcohol cook off in mulled wine?

Yes, the alcohol in the red wine does burn off when cooking however the trick is to warm mulled wine low and slow without boiling or over simmering the liquid. Extras such as brandy or Cointreau tend to be stirred in or added before serving for an extra warming punch of flavour.

If you want your mulled wine to be extra strong, you're probably best not to use the slow cooker and opt for the classic way of cooking it on the hob in a pot or pan.

Can you reheat mulled wine in the microwave?

Yes, you can reheat mulled wine in the microwave - and it’s easy to do so too. You just need to make sure you have a microwavable mug or cup. You can reheat in batches or a single mug at a time, the choice is yours. Just make sure you keep the temperature low on your microwave and reheat in a burst of 1 minute at a time.

Best slow cookers - my top picks tried and tested

Crockpot 3.5L Sizzle & Stew Manual Slow Cooker - View at Amazon

Crockpot 3.5L Sizzle & Stew Manual Slow Cooker - View at Amazon

This small, but mighty slow cooker is great for making an array of comfort foods; from stews to chilli - and now hot chocolate. It’s a manual slow cooker so there is no timer or buzzer to go off to say it is done, which can be a slight pain however it doesn’t bother me now as I often time it with my day and when it’s home from school time, the slow cooker goes off if its been stewing all day. Super easy to clean, dishwasher safe, and compact design so can fit in the smallest of kitchens - and in the kitchen cupboard too for those who don’t have much kitchen counter area.

GreenPan 6L Slow Cooker - View at Lakeland

GreenPan 6L Slow Cooker - View at Lakeland

A large slow cooker perfect for bigger families who love batch cooking, or making hearty stews with plenty of leftovers. This 6L slow cooker from GreenPan features smart settings with a slow cook function for up to 24 hours as well as 8 hours warming mode once food has been cooked. I’ve made various meals in this slow cooker including slow cooker Spag Bol, chicken stew, and sausage casserole - all of which came out perfectly - especially with the digital timer on display and loud alert when the cooking is done.

For more of the best slow cookers on the market, check out our handy guide including brands such as Russell Hobbs, Ninja Kitchen, and Sage. 

We’ve also got a nifty guide answering the question; how much does it cost to run a slow cooker? As well as a range of different slow cooker recipes including our best vegetarian slow cooker recipes and best slow cooker chicken recipes

Jessica Dady
Food Editor

Jessica Dady is Food Editor at GoodtoKnow and has over 11 years of experience as a digital editor, specialising in all things food, recipes, and SEO. From the must-buy seasonal food hampers and advent calendars for Christmas to the family-friendly air fryers that’ll make dinner time a breeze, Jessica loves trying and testing various food products to find the best of the best for the busy parents among us. Over the years of working with GoodtoKnow, Jessica has had the privilege of working alongside Future’s Test Kitchen to create exclusive videos - as well as writing, testing, and shooting her own recipes. When she’s not embracing the great outdoors with her family at the weekends, Jessica enjoys baking up a storm in the kitchen with her favourite bakes being chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and a tray of gooey chocolate brownies