Look, the best apple cider is fresh pressed at an apple orchard. You get it along with an apple cider donut or two after driving far too long just to pick 10 lbs of apples and take a pic for the ‘gram. But you’re not going to drive to that apple orchard every weekend—even in the fall. And that’s where the best store bought apple cider comes into play. Because you should still be able to sip on that classic autumnal beverage without paying to do manual labor.
Sadly, most store-bought apple cider (not apple juice—there’s a difference between apple cider and apple juice) is pretty darn lackluster. When I purchase cider, I’m looking for serious apple flavor. I want it to taste like watered down applesauce—not sugar water. It should be rich and earthy and sweet and probably opaque. Not only do I not mind a cloudy apple cider, I prefer it. Out of the nine apple ciders we tried, only three made the cut. Here’s the best cider to buy outside of an apple orchard.
- Martinelli’s Gold Medal Cider
Martinelli’s is the undisputed king of sparkling apple cider—three different Martinelli’s products made our ranking of the best sparkling apple cider. And while their honeycrisp apple cider was sadly disappointing (it tasted musty and muted), their standard bottle of apple cider was bright and zingy and crisp. Even though it’s not cloudy apple cider, it still has some of that fresh cider flavor. It’s made without additives and, let’s be honest, it comes in a really great bottle. If you’re looking for apple cider that straddles the line between apple juice and fresh-pressed cider, this is the best store bought apple cider for you.
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- North Coast Organic Apple Cider
If you don’t need your apple cider to be super sweet, this organic apple cider is the best apple cider to buy. It is rich and honeyed and it really tastes like fresh, cooked apples. It doesn’t have that zippy sugariness of some ciders, it’s much more mellow. For me, this was the coziest apple cider we tasted, which is why it’s the best apple cider to use for mulling. Pour the bottle into a pot and set it to simmer. Add mulling spices like nutmeg, clove, and allspice berries, and then just wait for the number one best fall smell to fill your kitchen.
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- Amazon Fresh Apple Cider
I cannot believe I’m ranking an Amazon Fresh juice as the best apple cider but here we are! This refrigerated apple cider tastes like a fresh-from-the-orchard apple cider dupe. It’s cloudy and has that fresh-pressed, skin contact flavor. It’s not quite as vibrant or intensely sweet as the apple cider you get from an orchard, but it’s pretty darn close and pretty darn good. Since trying it in this taste test, I’ve enjoyed it straight, mixed it with sparkling water for a spritz, and even used it in an apple cider Margarita. It was all great. Sometimes the big corps do good.
Credit: Merc / Amazon
Best Not Cloudy Cider
Best for Mulled Cider
Best of the Best
Other apple ciders we tried: Martinelli’s Organic Honeycrisp Cider, Great Value Spiced Apple Cider, Happy Belly Apple Cider, Kroger Apple Cider, First Street Apple Cider, Trader Joe’s Spiced Cider