Apple Cider vs Apple Juice – What’s Their Difference?

Save for later!

apple cider vs apple juice

If you’ve just returned from a fun afternoon of apple picking, you may be tempted to make apple juice. Or maybe apple cider. To help you understand what the differences are, we’ve created this guide for you.

Apple Cider vs Apple Juice – What’s Their Difference? Both apple cider and apple juice are made from apples. They don’t have any other ingredients other than apples. And yet they are different. Apple juice is cooked in its processing steps and the result is a clear liquid. On the other hand, apple cider isn’t cooked, except in the final pasteurizing stage. It is cloudier as not all the impurities have been removed. Apple juice is quite sweet while the apple cider is tart. Both, however, can be enjoyed by everyone.

What is Apple Cider?

what is apple cider

First and foremost, apple cider is a non-alcoholic drink made from apples. While in some parts of the world cider is an alcoholic beverage, in the United States, it’s distinguished as hard cider.

Apple cider is liquid that is extracted from apples, and can contain all parts of the apple. This includes the flesh, skin, and core.

You can find some apple cider that is fresh and raw. It is just bottled juice that hasn’t been processed.

If you want apple cider that will last longer, it needs to be pasteurized, which kills any bacteria, thus prolonging its shelf life.

What is Apple Juice?

what is apple juice

Apple juice is quite literally the juice from apples. It is created when apples are macerated, or broken into pieces and the liquid is then extracted and cooked.

If you go to the supermarket you will find processed apple juice that is a clearer liquid. This is because of the commercial packaging process which removes starches and pectin.

If you purchase apple juice from a local farm, it will usually be a lot cloudier. It is less processed and therefore there are more particles that remain in the juice.

In the United States, apple juice is the most common fruit juice.

Can I substitute apple juice for apple cider?

If you’re really stuck and don’t want to head back to the grocery store, you could use apple juice as a substitute for apple cider. However, apple juice is quite a bit sweeter than apple cider and this taste will be reflected in your recipe.

If you need to make this substitution, try decreasing the amount of sugar that is used, if this is also an ingredient.

Difference Between Apple Cider vs Apple Juice

difference between apple cider vs apple juice

Type of Apple

There are many types of apples and almost all of them can be used for apple juice. McIntosh apples are one of the more popular choices for apples.

Not only are McIntosh apples a nice mix of sweet and tart, but their flesh is quite soft which allows it to release more juice. However, many people like using granny smith apples, which are not only tarter, but also crunchier.

Commercial-made juice usually uses sweeter apples. If you are making your own, homemade apple juice, you can use whichever apples you’d like, depending on if you want your juice to be sweet or tart.

Apple cider is the same. You can cater it towards your personal tastes.

If you would prefer sweeter apple cider, use apples such as Red Delicious, Fiji, and Gala. For tarter apple cider, use McIntosh, Braeburn, or Pink Lady varieties.  

When the Apple was picked (age)

Both apple cider and apple juice use ripe apples. They should not be mushy, nor should they be un-ripe as it will be harder to extract the juice.

If you’re not sure if the apples are ripe, you can cut one open and look at the seeds. They should be black in color; even dark brown means the apples still aren’t ripe.


While apple juice is readily available, it’s also fun to make it at home. To start with, select ripe apples and then wash them.

The apples need to be ground or crushed. Then, place the crushed apples into a large pot and simmer at a temperature between 180 F and 210 F.

Once the apple mush has reached this temperature, you can pour it over a bowl wrapped in cheesecloth. The cheesecloth acts as a strainer, catching the solids and letting the juice slowly drip through.

Do not squeeze the layers of the cheesecloth. Rather, let the liquid seep through overnight.

For cider, select and wash your apples. Then, grind the apples into small pieces.

It’s best to use a cider press, which is available at most home improvement stores. Observe your cider; if needed, remove solids and pasteurize the cider by heating the juice to 160 F.


While apple cider does not have sugar added there are some varieties of apple juice that have added sugar. However, apples are incredibly high in natural sugar.

Apple cider will have a sweet but tangy taste to it. On the other hand, apple juice is all sweet.

Freshly squeezed apple juice that hasn’t been processed will have a less sweet taste to it, but it is still not comparable to apple cider.

Consumer Preference

When it comes to the choice between apple juice and apple cider, apple juice is the beverage most consumed in the United States. Apple juice has long been a staple in most households and is the preferred juice drink of many.

However, apple cider has steadily gained a loyal following.

During Fall, apple cider is happy to compete with pumpkin spice in the world of flavorings. And year-round, apple cider is regularly enjoyed by people of all ages, especially those who don’t have a severe sweet tooth.

While apple juice may reign supreme when you’re a kid, once your taste buds develop in adulthood, you might want to give apple cider a try. Its sweet and tart mixture may be the new drink you’re looking for.

Which is better for you, apple juice or apple cider?

Apple cider and juice shouldn’t have any additives and instead be 100% made from apples. While they have different methods of processing, they have the same nutritional benefits.


When Fall arrives, who doesn’t love an apple-based drink? You can go for the tried and true sweet apple juice or a tarter glass of apple cider.

Related Articles:

Save for later!