Apple Pie Moonshine

This apple pie moonshine, made with vodka, apple cider, lemon, ginger, and spices, is strong, spectacular, and pretty high proof. Here’s how to make it.

A chipped pot filled with apple pie moonshine, apple wedges and whole spices with a tray of glasses filled with the moonshine beside it.

Curious about the story behind apple pie moonshine? According to author Vivian Howard, “When bootleggers had to hide their shine, they’d mix it with apple cider and store it in the cider jug. The juice-colored camouflage quelled suspicion and made white lightning easier to drink. Eventually apple pie moonshine, also called applejack, became a concoction moonshiners hung their hat on.” Words cannot contain the brilliance behind this. And it’s also brilliantly easy to toss together. Just combine apple cider, spices, vodka, and apples, wait a few hours, and then splash it in a punch bowl, pour it into Mason jars, or just keep it all to yourself and indulge in a nip every once in a while. This apple pie moonshine recipe makes a blissfully ginormous batch. You can easily cut the recipe in half for a smaller batch, although we do have to question, why would you want to do such a thing?! Originally published November 23, 2016.Renee Schettler Rossi

Apple Pie Moonshine

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 10 H, 30 M
  • Makes about 1 1/2 gallons (5.7 liters)
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Special Equipment: Mason jars



In a 2-gallon (7.6-liter) pot, bring the cider, sugar, lemons, oranges, spices, and ginger to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and let it cool completely.

Stir the moonshine and apples into the cooled cider. Cover and let it sit overnight at room temperature.

The next day, remove and discard the citrus. Take a nip and, if a stronger spice flavor is desired, leave the spices in the moonshine; otherwise, strain them out. Transfer the apple pie moonshine to 1-quart Mason jars with lids wide enough to contain the apples. Screw on the lids and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve or gift your apple pie moonshine. (If you can, put this apple pie moonshine together ahead of time and let it mellow in the fridge for a week.)

When you’re ready to impress friends or just get a little tipsy, serve your apple pie moonshine chilled over ice.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This apple pie moonshine is a highly flavorful spiced cider with a kick! It was a delicious addition to a friend's Halloween party. I thought the taste of the final product was delicious and so did many of the partygoers.

Since I was taking the drink to a party, I bought Martinelli's cider and repurposed to glass jug to transport the cider. This means I left the apples out for the party presentation because they wouldn't fit in the opening of the jug. For the rest that wouldn't fit in the jug, I put all the apples in two pint jars and poured the remaining liquid over them. I strained all the spices because the mixture was perfectly spiced after steeping it overnight. I used Gala apples and Palmetto White Lightning Moonshine.

Many partygoers found the smell of the drink too overwhelming. Even though the moonshine constituted only a fifth of the overall mixture, the moonshine smell is very strong. I've never used or drank moonshine before, so I don't know if another brand would have less of an aroma that would pair better in this drink.

A great make-ahead cocktail. I look forward to serving it as our signature drink to our Thanksgiving crowd. Although I was a little apprehensive to work with moonshine, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of this recipe and look forward to taking daily nips until it's gone. The apple cider, citrus, and spices make this moonshine a pleasant but still strong cocktail.

While making the recipe, I questioned whether I should turn all the citrus cut side down for the overnight soak. (I did). Also, after quartering the apples, I automatically cored them but probably could have left the core in and saved a step. I strained the moonshine and cider mixture through a colander with holes small enough to catch the citrus seeds and whole cloves. I divided the apples among the 3 quart-size Mason jars. I put a cinnamon stick and star anise in a couple of jars to see if the spice flavor increases with time. I also questioned whether I should give the citrus a squeeze to release the juices after the overnight soak. I did and mixed the juice in with the moonshine mixture.


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  1. I see star Anise listed in the ingredients but it is not mentioned as an ingredient that is added to the pot. Is the Anise really necessary?

    1. Steve, the star anise is meant to be included in the “spices” that are referenced in step 1. It provides a unique spice flavor, but if you’re not a fan, or simply don’t have any, the moonshine will still turn out great without it.

  2. I am allergic as hell to vodka. And, to me, this recipe screams for Rum. Perhaps 3 c. black rum 94%. Already spiced, too. Who puts vodka with these flavors? I just cannot see it. In the Fall, it’s always Rum, and in the Alaskan Winter, long and dark? Good Bourbons and Fortified Wines.

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