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This holiday simmer pot is a simple, homemade potpourri that fills the house with warm, spice-scented air. Made with fresh cranberries, sliced oranges, and fragrant whole spices it’s an easy, yet impressive, homemade gift idea that’s festive as can be!
Simmer pots are such a simple way to make your home feel warm, cozy, and comforting at Christmastime.
If you can fill a pot with water, you can enjoy a simmer pot! Make one for yourself (and make one to give away) and enjoy the fresh fragrance as it fills your home this holiday season!
Ingredients for a simmer pot
- Fresh Cranberries
- Whole Cinnamon, Star Anise, Allspice, and Cloves
- Fresh Rosemary
Making a Christmas Simmer Pot
- Add all the ingredients to a pot. I like to use a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, but a stainless soup pot also works.
- Add water. Enough to fill the pot up at least halfway.
- Bring to a simmer. As the water gently evaporates, it will carry the smells of Christmas through your home.
It really is so easy to make a simmer pot so that your house smells like the holidays. As a bonus, this homemade simmering potpourri will add moisture to the dry winter air!
This recipe is really just a foundation for you to build off of. It’s easy to customize the scent to your liking. Below you’ll find a few suggestions for other ingredients in a simmer pot.
Cranberries – Cranberries have a very light, bright, and fruity scent. They’re not totally necessary for the pot, so if you don’t have any fresh or frozen cranberries (yes, you can use frozen!), you can skip them.
Citrus – Orange is such a classic Christmas scent that I always include it in my simmer pots. The smell of fresh orange with spices like cinnamon and clove is so relaxing and one of my favorites. You can also use fresh lemons or limes, or a mixture of the three. I’ve also used clementines with great success.
Apples – If you’re not into adding cranberries, try slicing some fresh apples and adding them to your simmer pot instead! I like adding apples when I make simmer pots in autumn.
Spices – While I prefer using whole spices not only for their scent, but for their looks, you can use ground if it’s all you have.
Use ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon allspice, ⅛ teaspoon cloves, and a pinch anise if you like. Though it may take away from some of the visual delight of the simmer pot.
Herbs – Rosemary not only goes well with a lot of these ingredients while cooking, but is also a great addition to the simmer pot for a floral, herbaceous note. Substitute or add fresh thyme in addition to the rosemary for even more punch.
Vanilla Extract – If you like scents that are sweeter, and smell more liked fresh baked goods, add a teaspoon or two of homemade vanilla extract to the pot when you add the water.
An easy, homemade gift
If you’re attending a Christmas party or holiday function, a jar filled with all the ingredients for a simmer pot is a great hostess gift to bring!
Fill a 2-quart mason jar with all the ingredients – arranging them in pleasant layers. Tie a festive ribbon and tag around the lid of the jar. I like to write the instructions on the back of the tag, too.
Because this is made with fresh produce and not dried, it’s best to assemble the jar only a day before you plan to give it away, storing it in the fridge until gifting. Be sure to instruct the recipient that it should be used within two days and kept in the fridge until ready to use.
Can you drink the simmer pot water?
I’ve seen this question posed online a lot and while technically you can drink the water from a simmer pot, as everything is edible, that’s not what it’s intended for. The delicious smells don’t translate into taste.
I think some people expect it to taste like mulled cider or wassail or something of that ilk, but it’s going to taste like delicately flavored hot water, if anything. And it won’t be sweet! We’re not adding any sugar to it. So just stick to smelling the simmer pot, ok?
Other Great Homemade Gift Ideas
- Boozy Eggnog - This makes a big batch so you can enjoy some for yourself, too!
- Homemade Vanilla Extract - For the baker in your life!
- Homemade Chai Concentrate - great for homemade chai lattes and dirty chais, too.
- Vanilla Simple Syrup - great in lattes, iced coffee, cold brew coffee, and more!
Holiday Simmer Pot
- Large pot
- 2-quart Jar, optional
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 2 oranges sliced
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise
- 10 whole allspice
- 5 whole cloves
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 8 cups water
For the simmer pot:
- Add 2 cups fresh cranberries, 2 sliced oranges, 3 cinnamon sticks, 1 star anise, 10 whole allspice, 5 whole cloves, and 2 rosemary sprigs to a large Dutch oven and place on the stove.
- Add 8 cups of water to the pot and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low.
- Allow pot to very gently simmer, keeping an eye on it, for 6 – 8 hours. Make sure the pot never runs out of water, as this can be dangerous!
To give as a gift:
- Gently pack the ingredients into a 2-quart jar and cover with a lid. Tie a festive ribbon and tag around the lid and store in the refrigerator until ready to give to the recipient!
- The jar can be stored for two days, be sure to let the gift getter know to keep it chilled until use!