20 Ways to Use Holiday Mulling Spices

Oh, the sights, sounds, and smells that make the holidays—the holidays! Even without twinkling lights or familiar carols, the scents of the season can instantly put you to a festive mindset. 

For us, pine sap and evergreen needles summon memories of corner-lot Christmas trees. A whiff of woodsmoke smells like relaxed family visits around Uncle Alvin’s flagstone fireplace. And the combination of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and oranges never fails to feel like Mom’s kitchen, all December long.

It’s this “scents” of nostalgia (we just had to do it) that led us to make mulling spices part of our Spoonful of Comfort 2021 Holiday Collection. This custom blend of fruits and spices smells divine all on its own. But we thought we’d share our favorite ways to fill your home with olfactory delights—plus a few surprising ways to use your gift!

Discover 20 ways to use the mulling spices from our Holiday Soup & Scents package. With this many scent-sational ideas, you may need to order more! 

Please note: Spoonful of Comfort mulling spices include some granulated ingredients. For best results (especially in beverages), you may wish to steep the spices using a tea strainer. Or, place the desired amount of mulling spices on a 5-inch square of cheesecloth. Gather the edges and tie with kitchen string. 

A special thanks to Raw Spice Bar, PlumDeluxe, and Southern Living for recipes or inspiration.

1. Traditional Simmering

For home fragrance, add 2-3 tablespoons of mulling spices to a tea strainer. (Make your own by placing the spices on a square of cheesecloth and tie with twine to make a small packet.) Boil 8 cups of water in a saucepan, then add the spice packet. Boil for a few minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 hours. Discard remaining liquid and spices when cooled.

2. Potpourri

Pour spices into a small open or vented container. (A pretty holiday candy dish works well!) The more mix you use, the stronger the aroma will be. You can also add a few tablespoons to a linen or organza bag and use it as a drawer freshener. To freshen up the scent over time, sprinkle a few drops of olive oil or an essential oil to the mix and gently shake to distribute.

3. Bath Salts

In a resealable bag or container, add the following ingredients and shake to combine:

  • 1 cup epsom salt
  • 2/3 cup sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon mulling spices 

Pour into a food processor, coffee grinder, or spice grinder and process until fine. Pour about a half a cup into running bath water to relax and soak your cares away!

4. Hot or Cold Cider

Spiced cider is a holiday classic, whatever temperature it’s served. To make your own, combine the following in a large pan:

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 2 quarts cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 tablespoons mulling spices, in a tea strainer or spice bag

Bring ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to very low and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard spices before serving. Serve hot or cold.

5. Mulled Apple Cider 

A grown-up version of the classic cider recipe above. In a large pan or slow cooker, add the following ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons mulling spices, in a tea strainer or spice bag
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle dry white wine
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1/3 cup honey

Cover and heat on low for 2-3 hours. Add fruit and simmer another 20 minutes to an hour:

  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 apples, sliced

If desired, add a splash of rum, brandy, or bourbon just before serving.

6. Spiced Tea

Add more holiday mood to your tea by steeping 1-2 teaspoons of mulling spices along with your tea. Add it to loose tea in a strainer or make your own mini spice bag from cheesecloth to use alongside a tea bag in your cup.

7. Flavored Cream for Hot Drinks

No need to visit the coffee shop when you’ve got seasonal cream on hand! Use this recipe with any type of milk or cream you usually use in your tea or coffee: milk, cream, half and half, almond milk, and coconut milk all work well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cream, half and half, or milk of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon mulling spice, in a tea strainer or spice bag 

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring liquid to a simmer. Just before it starts to boil, remove from heat, add the spice strainer or bag, and cover. Steep for 30 minutes and discard spices.

Store infused cream in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Best if used within three days for maximum flavor.

8. Spiced Whipped Cream for Coffees or Desserts

Follow the recipe above using heavy whipping cream. Refrigerate infused cream for 6-8 hours or overnight. Pour cream and 2 tablespoons sugar into a large mixing bowl and whip with whisk or electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

9. Gluhwein

A German version of mulled wine, gluhwein can be called “glow wine” for the warm cozy feeling it brings! 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons mulling spices, in a tea strainer or spice bag
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 half an orange
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine
  • Rum or amaretto

Bring sugar and water to boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to medium high and add the mulling spices, orange zest and juice. Simmer until a fragrant syrup forms, about 1 minute.

Reduce heat to low and add wine. Simmer on low for 20 minutes up to a few hours.

To serve, remove the spice bag and serve in small mugs, adding a shot of rum or amaretto.

10. Spiced Apple Wine with Vanilla

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons mulling spices
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1 bottle apple wine

Pour apple juice into medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add mulling spices and vanilla bean and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Discard spice packet and add apple wine. Bring to a simmer (don’t boil) then remove from heat, pour into glasses, and serve immediately.

11. Holiday Sangria 

It’s not just for summer! If iced drinks are more your thing (even in the winter), add a holiday twist with this beverage refresher.

Sangria – Quick Method

In a saucepan, bring 1-2 cups of red or white wine to a simmer. Add 1 tablespoon of mulling spices to a tea strainer or spice packet and let steep for 3-5 minutes. (The longer you steep, the stronger the flavor.) Discard mulling spices and chill infused wine. To serve, pour over prepared fruit and herbs. We like sliced citrus, apple or pear, and fresh mint!

Sangria – Slow Method

We call this the “sun tea” method for wine. Pour a bottle of wine into a large lidded jar. Add 1 tablespoon of mulling spices to a tea strainer or spice packet, seal the jar, and place in a sunny, warm location. (The fridge will work too, but the spices won’t be as strong). Steep for 24-48 hours. Remove spices, pour over fruit, and let sit a little longer to infuse fruit flavors before serving.

12. Flavored Vodka

Simple and surprising! Wrap 1-2 tablespoons of mulling spices and zest of one orange and one lemon into a strip of cheesecloth. Tie tightly into a long, thin packet. Insert the spice packet into a bottle of vodka and let sit for at least 3-5 days, depending on how strong you like your flavors. Infused vodka will keep indefinitely.

Tip: No need to splurge! Spiced infusions up the flavor value of inexpensive vodka.

13. Spiced Ice Cubes

Spiced ice cubes make a pretty addition to any holiday punch or cocktail. Look for specialty ice cube trays in holiday shapes for an extra festive touch!

Make a strong “tea” by boiling 1 cup of water and steeping 1-1/2 teaspoons of mulling spices using a tea strainer or spice bag. Pour the infused water into an ice cube tray and freeze.

14. Warm Winter Toddy

A holiday twist on a winter classic. We think it’s best enjoyed with cookies or appetizers by a roaring fire.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon mulling spices, in a tea strainer or spice packet
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

Toast mulling spices in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, do not stir. Add water and honey and increase heat to medium. Cover and simmer until fragrant, 10-12 minutes. Stir in bourbon and lemon juice. Keep warm over lowest heat until ready to serve.

15. Spiced Breakfast Syrup

Just when you thought Christmas morning pancakes couldn’t get any better! Drizzle them with this spiced syrup and let the oooh’s and aaah’s commence!

Ingredients:

12 oz. maple syrup (we prefer pure maple syrup)

1 tablespoon mulling spices, in tea strainer or spice packet

Simmer syrup and spice bag in a saucepan on low heat for 5 minutes. Cover and chill for 24 hours WITH the spice bag to steep. Discard spice bag. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Serve warm with pancakes or waffles.

16. Spiced Vinaigrette

Wrap 1 tablespoon mulling spices and 3 large orange rind strips (about 3” x 1”) on a 5-inch square of cheesecloth. Gather ends and tie tightly with kitchen twine. Add the spice packet to 2 cups (16 oz) of apple cider vinegar and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let all ingredients stand for 3 hours. Discard spice bag and pour liquid into a jar or bottle. Store up to 2 weeks as a vinaigrette to toss with salads. 

Buy pretty glass bottles to fill with this vinaigrette for a unique holiday hostess gift!

17. Spiced Sugar

A spicy powdered sugar to use in tea or coffee—or to top waffles or rice pudding!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup mulling spices

Place spices and sugar in a food processor or spice mill and grind until fine. Mix sugar and spices in an airtight container. Seal and shake well to combine. Allow to sit for at least a few days, shaking once in a while.

18. Spiced Ice Cream

Make this easy ice cream ahead of time. The flavor improves after several hours in the freezer. Delicious with cookies, shortcake, or fruit!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons mulling spices, in tea strainer or spice bag
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can condensed milk

Boil water and let spices steep for at least 10-15 minutes while you prepare the whipped cream. Whip cream until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes on high speed with a mixer and cold mixing bowl. Pour in condensed milk and fold together. When water has desired flavor, discard spice bag. Fully cool the liquid and add to cream mixture.

Place in a covered container and put in the freezer for at least 2 hours, preferably 6 hours or overnight. Similar to homemade ice cream, this will be very stiff out of the freezer, but melts very quickly in the heat or on hot foods. 

19. Holiday Spice Pumpkin Bars

Recipe courtesy of PlumDeluxe

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

In a food processor or spice grinder, place 2 tablespoons of mulling spices and grind until fine. Use this as the mulling spices called for in the crust and filling recipes below.

FOR THE CRUST
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons mulling spices, ground fine
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine cookie crumbs, spices, and sugar. Drizzle in the melted butter and stir until well mixed but still crumbly. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the dish. Bake for 5 minutes, then set aside to cool while you make the filling. Leave the oven on at 350 F.

FOR THE FILLING
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons ground mulling spices
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl, blend together sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add in pumpkin, eggs, tea, and spices and continue mixing until well blended. Pour filling over crust, using the back of a spatula to spread it evenly. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until top has set (it only jiggles slightly) and lightly browned. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely, then chill it in the fridge for at least a few hours before slicing and serving with Spiced Whipped Cream).

Spiced Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high until stiff peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Spoon cream onto Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars before serving. Store any extra cream in the fridge in an airtight container.

20. Holiday Spice Shortbread

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons mulling spices
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

Grind mulling spices using a food processor, coffee or spice grinder. We prefer a coarse grind, but finely ground works just as well!

Combine the spices, flour, and salt in a food processor until evenly distributed. Add the sugar, vanilla, and butter and pulse until the mixture starts to form a dough. Drop the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, being sure to smooth out any unmixed portions; roll it into a log about 2.5 inches in diameter. Work quickly as the butter will start to warm from your hands. Wrap the plastic wrap ends tightly and put in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.

Before removing dough from refrigerator, preheat oven to 375 F. Slice the dough into 1/2-inch thick circles. Place circles on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, keeping them evenly spaced. Bake until edges are browned, around 12 minutes. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then move to wire racks to cool. Best enjoyed still warm with a cup of tea or glass of red wine.

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