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Can I use apple cider in cooking?


Apple cider is a popular fall beverage made from pressed apples. Its sweet, apple-y flavor lends itself well to a variety of cooking applications. But before substituting it in recipes, it’s important to understand the differences between apple cider and apple juice.

While apple juice is filtered and pasteurized, apple cider is unfiltered and unpasteurized. This gives it a cloudy appearance and allows it to retain more nutrients and apples’ natural enzymes. However, the lack of pasteurization also means raw apple cider may contain harmful bacteria if not processed safely.

For cooking purposes, most recipes calling for apple cider specifically mean unfiltered apple cider. So if you want to use apple juice as a substitute, it may slightly alter the flavor and texture of the dish.

Here’s a look at how apple cider differs from apple juice, along with substitution tips and recipe ideas to help you cook with apple cider.

Apple Cider vs. Apple Juice

Besides the filtering and pasteurization process, a few other key differences exist between apple cider and juice:

Fiber content

Apple cider contains some fiber from the apples’ skins and pulp, while apple juice is fiber-free.


The flavor of apple cider is often described as robust, rich, and tart compared to apple juice.


Apple cider is more commonly used in cooking, while apple juice is usually drank straight.


Apple cider has a higher nutrient content, as some vitamins and minerals are lost in the filtering and heating process of making juice.

Acidity level

Apple cider is more acidic with a lower pH around 3.0-4.0, while apple juice pH is 3.3-4.0.

Attribute Apple Cider Apple Juice
Filtering No Yes
Pasteurization No Yes
Fiber Contains some Fiber-free
Flavor Rich, robust, tart Mild, delicate
Common uses Cooking Drinking
Nutrient content Higher Some loss from processing
Acidity (pH) 3.0-4.0 3.3-4.0

So in summary, apple cider provides bolder apple flavor, more nutrients, and higher acidity compared to the filtered, milder apple juice.

Substituting Apple Juice for Apple Cider in Recipes

Because of the flavor and texture differences, apple juice is not always perfectly interchangeable with apple cider in recipes. However, in some cases, apple juice can work as a substitute.

Here are some tips for substituting apple juice for cider:

– For savory recipes that call for just small amounts of apple cider (a half cup or less), apple juice usually works fine as its flavor won’t dominate.

– In baking recipes, apple juice can typically replace apple cider cup for cup without significantly altering the results.

– To give apple juice more complexity similar to cider, add a tablespoon of lemon juice and pinch of cinnamon or apple pie spice blend per cup of apple juice.

– If a recipe calls for “fresh pressed” or “cloudy” apple cider, apple juice will not make an adequate substitute. The texture and mouthfeel will be much thinner.

– For recipes where apple cider is a prominent flavor, like a salad dressing, consider using half apple juice and half regular cider. This will provide some of the rich, tart apple flavor.

– As a rule of thumb, it’s best to use pasteurized apple cider or juice in any recipe that won’t be cooked. Raw apple cider may contain harmful bacteria.

Always adjust other liquids in a recipe to account for substituting apple juice for cider. And be aware that results may vary depending on the particular dish.

Cooking with Apple Cider

Thanks to its complex apple flavor, apple cider brings delicious, sweet-tart taste to a variety of savory and sweet recipes. Here are some of the most popular ways to cook with apple cider:

Savory Apple Cider Recipes


Apple cider adds comforting apple essence and gentle sweetness to soups like butternut squash, potato, carrot, and roasted autumn vegetable. Add 1-2 cups cider and season with cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, or thyme.


For a unique chili, replace some or all of the broth with apple cider and add spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. The cider’s acidity balances the richness. Use 2-3 cups.


Infusing risotto with apple cider instead of wine or broth gives it a subtly sweet, fall twist. Follow any basic risotto recipe using 3-4 cups cider.

Cooking grains

Cook grains like farro, quinoa, and rice in apple cider rather than water for extra flavor. Use a 1:1 ratio of grains to cider. Mix in roasted squash or apples.

Pan sauces

Deglaze a pan used to cook pork chops, chicken, or fish with 1/2 cup cider. Reduce to a sauce consistency and season with herbs.

Braising liquid

For braised beef, chicken, or vegetarian dishes, replace up to half the braising liquid with apple cider. It adds sweetness.

Dressings and marinades

Whisk together apple cider vinegar, oil, cider, and herbs/spices for a tangy salad dressing. Or marinate meats in a mixture with cider.


Use a splash of cider to deglaze when sautéing vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, or greens.

Sweet Apple Cider Recipes

Apple cider isn’t just for savory dishes! It brings natural sweetness and apple flavor to these desserts and drinks:

Apple cider donuts

Add 1-2 cups cider to the donut batter and optional cider glaze. It provides apple-y taste and moist texture.


For apple pie or other fruit pies, use cider instead of water in the filling and dough for extra flavor.


Replace the water or milk in apple cake recipes with fresh cider for moistness and apple essence.

Quick breads and muffins

Substitute 1/2 to 1 cup of the liquid in recipes with cider for apple breads and muffins.

Pancakes and waffles

The acidity of cider reacts with baking soda for extra fluffiness in pancake and waffle batter. Use up to 2 cups.


When making homemade applesauce, add 1/4 cup cider per 2 lbs of apples. It enhances the flavor.

Cider mimosas

For cider mimosas, fill champagne flutes 1/3 full with cider and top with champagne. Garnish with orange slice.

Mulled cider

Gently warm cider with oranges, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and honey for delicious mulled apple cider.

Safety Tips When Cooking with Apple Cider

When using apple cider in recipes that won’t be fully cooked, keep these tips in mind:

– Only use pasteurized apple cider, not raw cider, to eliminate the risk of food-borne bacteria.

– Check labels and look for “pasteurized” on the packaging.

– Don’t give cider-containing foods to pregnant women, infants, elderly, or immuno-compromised people, as they are more susceptible to illness.

– Add the cider at the end of cooking rather than at the beginning if the recipe won’t be thoroughly cooked.

– Discard any leftover cider-based marinades or dressings rather than saving them to reuse.

With pasteurized apple cider and proper food safety precautions, you can feel comfortable using this seasonal ingredient to add sweet apple complexity to all sorts of recipes. Experiment with swapping it into your favorite soups, braises, baked goods, and more for a tasty touch of autumn.


While apple cider and apple juice have some differences, apple juice can work as a substitute for cider in certain recipes, especially baked goods. For best results, use pasteurized cider and juice, and adjust other liquids to account for the substitution. Apple cider adds delicious sweet and tart apple flavor to a variety of savory and sweet dishes like soups, braises, doughs, and dressings. With proper precautions, cider is a versatile cooking ingredient that brings out the flavors of fall. Get creative with cider in your own kitchen and enjoy that true apple taste in everything from pancakes to pan sauces.