What’s the Difference Between Apple Cider and Apple Juice?

What's the real difference between apple cider and apple juice? The two products sound similar—but here's what sets them apart.

When the weather turns crisp and cool each fall, there’s no doubt that it’s time to start baking apple desserts. But whether you’re at the apple orchard or the grocery store, it’s easy to get stuck on the choice between two popular beverages: apple cider and apple juice.

Here’s what makes each drink so special—and when to use ’em both.

The Difference Between Apple Cider and Apple Juice

It starts as soon as the apples are picked! In most cases, apple cider is raw pressed apple juice that has not been filtered to remove pulp or sediment. It’s a fresh product that you’re most likely to see at local apple orchards or farmers markets. But apple juice is always filtered to remove the apple solids and then pasteurized so it stays fresh at a supermarket.

The result is two apple beverages with a very different look and flavor:

Apple Juice: generally sweeter, with a clear and light color

Apple Cider: more tart and balanced, which is perfect for baking, with a dark and cloudy look

It’s not hard to find good apple juice at your grocery store. But to find real apple cider, we’d recommend looking at the best place to go apple picking in every state.

How to Store Cider and Juice

Most apple ciders are raw / unpasteurized and will need to be refrigerated ASAP. (You can also freeze the cider—leave 2″ or so at the top of the container so it has room to expand.) On the other hand, apple juice is always pasteurized and tends to be shelf-stable. Just refrigerate the container after opening.

When to Use in the Kitchen

Both apple cider and apple juice are delicious, but you’ll find more recipes that call for apple cider because of its rich apple-y flavor. You can make this mulled cider to stay cozy or incorporate fresh apple cider in everything from doughnuts to dumplings.

Our Favorite Recipes to Make with Apple Cider
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Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.