By Vanessa Greaves

Crisp days and cold nights call for steaming mugs of hot apple cider to warm you up from the inside out. We could leave it right there, but then you'd be missing out on all these other ways to enjoy it in some of the best fall-flavored dishes around. Take a look.

Photo by Meredith

10 Ways to Cook with Apple Cider

1. Hot Apple Cider

Let's start with the classic autumn warmer everyone wants when they want apple cider. Don't skip the step where you heat the cider to just below boiling and steep it with a mix of whole spices and citrus peel; it truly makes the recipe a 5-star favorite. Adults can slip a shot of apple brandy or calvados into theirs. We won't tell.

Find more recipes for family-friendly and spiked versions of hot apple cider.

2. Pumpkin Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup

As if pumpkin waffles weren't fall-ish enough, here's warm apple cider syrup to take them deep into autumnal bliss. You're going to want to drench French toast, pancakes, and ice cream with it, too.

Photo by lutzflcat

3. Apple Cider Doughnuts

If you're lucky enough to be within driving distance of apple orchards, especially in New England, you might find homemade apple cider doughnuts like these for sale. (Please send me some.) But if you're going to DIY, take the time to boil down the cider until it reduces into a super cider concentrate to flavor the doughnuts. Roll them in cinnamon sugar, or drizzle with a glaze of powdered sugar and a bit of apple cider.

Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki/Meredith

Learn how to make the best waffles and doughnuts.

4. Roasted Butternut Squash, Garlic, and Apple Soup

This thick, warm, sweetly earthy soup is a bowlful of comfort on a blustery day. And guess what—it's vegan. The recipe calls for cayenne pepper, but you can switch it up with the same amount of curry powder for a completely different flavor experience.

Photo by Arizona Desert Flower

Get smart tips to prep butternut squash for any recipe.

5. Slow Cooker Apple Cider Braised Pork

Sweet and tangy apple cider pairs perfectly with succulent pork cooked low and slow in your crockpot. The cooking juices from the pot is reduced at the end and whisked with Dijon mustard and herbs to make a sauce to pour over the meat. Autumn eating at its seasonal best.

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

6. Pork Chops with Apple Cider Glaze

Watch Chef John show you how to make crusty seared pork chops topped with a pan sauce of apple cider, Dijon mustard and rosemary. Try not to lick the screen.

7. Asian Pork Burger

And now for something completely different. An unusual blend of apple cider, teriyaki sauce, ginger, and other good things got a lot of people raving about these burgers. PPK says, "My head says it is a burger, but the taste buds say it is ribs."

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

Get more recipes for tender pork.

8. Apple Cider Beef Stew

This comforting dish is definitely for apple-lovers. Apple cider, apple cider vinegar, and fresh apples get together with potatoes, onions, and carrots to give an autumnal twist to a classic beef stew.

Photo by Shelley

9. Chipotle Barbacoa

This copycat version of a popular pulled-beef dish from a chain restaurant (guess which one) is made spicy with chipotle and serrano peppers. You'll sear the meat to concentrate flavors before putting everything in your slow cooker, but one note of caution: Adjust the seasonings and peppers to suit your tolerance for heat.

Photo by Chef Mo

Find more hearty beef stew recipes.

10. Chicken Apple Sausage with Cabbage

This hearty one-dish meal could figure large at an Oktoberfest celebration. After a quick 10-minute prep, it simmers on the stove while you slip into your lederhosen.

Photo by lutzflcat

Learn more about prepping and cooking cabbage.

What is Apple Cider, Anyway?

When we talk about apple cider in the United States, we mean freshly pressed apple juice that has not been filtered to remove sediment, which is why apple cider is cloudy while filtered apple juice is typically clear.

Wait, what about unfiltered apple juice? Is that the same thing as apple cider? Technically, yes. They are both made by pressing apples. But apple juice, whether it's filtered or not, is usually pasteurized to kill bacteria. Most commercially produced apple cider has also been pasteurized, but you still might be able to find raw, unpasteurized apple cider at a farm stand or farmers markets. The USDA recommends caution when consuming unpasteurized apple cider, especially for infants, pregnant women, and those whose immune systems are weakened.

But even when it's pasteurized, apple cider typically tastes earthier and tangier than regular apple juice. It has a limited shelf-life, too, making apple cider season short but oh so sweet.

Photo by Meredith

One more thing: Don't confuse non-alcoholic apple cider with its grown-up cousin called hard cider in the United States and just plain cider elsewhere in the world. Hard cider starts out as apple cider, but then goes through fermentation to develop its alcohol content. Hard cider can be further processed into apple cider vinegar and apple brandy. #themoreyouknow

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