spiced cranberry wassail

A mug of mulled wine wit steam rising from the top sits on a plate with pine branches and whole cloves.

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I find traditions so fascinating. I love hearing about different families and what they do to celebrate the holidays. There is something so comforting and cozy about the traditions that have been around for centuries and something fun and exciting about creating new traditions. I think it’s so fun that Babyface and I have traditions that come from his ancestors’ past and my ancestors’ past and we’ve thrown in some new fun things that are just ours.

One of the traditions that comes from my family is the drinking of wassail. From Wikipedia:

The word Wassail refers to several related traditions; first and foremost wassailing is an ancient southern English tradition that is performed with the intention of ensuring a good crop of cider apples for the next year’s harvest. It also refers to both the salute ‘Waes Hail’, the term itself is a contraction of the Middle English phrase wæs hæil, meaning literally ‘good health’ or ‘be you healthy’ and to the drink of wassail which is a hot mulled cider traditionally drunk as an integral part of the wassail ceremony.

We are big fans of wassail. Way back in the day, wassail was hot mulled cider with apples, but in recent years, it’s been adapted to have a whole lot of wine and fruit juice in it. Our family recipe uses dry red wine and cranberry juice.

For our family Christmas celebration, my Dad mixes up a giant batch of this punch and keeps it warm in the slow cooker. There are few things in this world as cozy as sipping on a mug of wassail next to a roaring fireplace. I’m a big fan.

A steaming mug of wassail sits on a plate beside a festive bell.

Spiced Cranberry Wassail

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Adjust the sugar content to your liking. I find that different cranberry juices have different sweetness levels, so it might be best to start off with 1/4 cup of sugar or less and work your way up.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 bottle dry red wine (I used Merlot)
  • 2 cups pure cranberry juice


  1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, water, cinnamon sticks and cloves and heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Reduce heat to low, add in lemon juice, red wine and cranberry juice.
  3. Simmer on low for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain to remove cloves and cinnamon sticks.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 211Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 0g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.
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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

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