Hard Cider Kits:
Get Started Fast!

Kits are a very easy and convenient way to get started making hard cider.  For a beginner, I would strongly suggest starting with a kit because it’s much easier and faster to get started, and it can keep costs lower.  Kits also make great gifts! If you need a great kit and don’t need the full analysis, buy this one… you won’t regret it!  For more options and comparisons, keep reading. There are 3 main types of kits when it comes to making hard cider:
  1. Hard Cider Kits – Hard cider kits are designed to include most or all of what a beginner needs to make their first batch of hard cider.  They typically include all equipment and ingredients to make a 1-gallon batch.  The ‘all-inclusive’ nature of these make them the perfect gift!
  2. Ingredient Kits – An ingredient kit is a group of items that will enable you to make a batch of hard cider without having to get individual ingredients.  It typically comes with an apple juice concentrate (that you will reconstitute), hard cider yeast, and maybe some additional components such as yeast nutrient or pectin enzyme.  It should also come with detailed instructions on how to make it as well.  These are perfect to use as ‘refills’ if you want to make another batch using the equipment you got in your hard cider kit.
  3. General Homebrew Equipment Kits – Equipment kits are groupings of pieces of equipment that are sold together for added convenience and cost savings.  They typically don’t come with any of the actual ingredients you will need.  Many home brewing equipment kits are targeted towards beer brewers, but most of the equipment is the same for making hard cider.  This is the best way to buy the equipment needed for larger batches (5-6 gallons).
If you are looking to learn about or buy individual pieces of equipment, visit the Equipment Page.

1. Hard Cider Kits

If you don’t have much experience in making hard cider, and don’t have any homebrew equipment, I would strongly suggest you start by buying a kit which includes most or all the pieces you’ll need.

Buying a hard cider kit reduces the complexity and cost of acquiring the things you’ll need to get started.  If you like cider making (which I think you will), it also gives you a head start on a bigger collection of equipment you may want in the future.

There are several to choose from, and they tend to fall into 2 price ranges: $80-$100 for the premium kits which have everything you’ll need, and $40-$50 for a standard kit, which gives the basics, but you’ll likely need to supplement with some individual purchases.  I’ve looked carefully, and here’s what I recommend:

Premium Hard Cider Kits

It was very hard to pick between the premier kits, but I tend to prefer the more traditional style of equipment (glass carboys, auto-siphon, standard capper, etc.).  These are tried and true pieces of equipment that will last for years

This is a very great kit, and the best kit to give as a gift (as it’s all inclusive).  It comes with advanced equipment such as a conical fermenter and is ready to make a batch right out of the box.

 

When looking for a hard cider kit to buy, it’s good to start with a list of ingredients and equipment you’d like to have.  A good baseline for making a 1-gallon batch of hard cider includes:

  • Sanitizing solution and cleaner
  • 1-gallon fermentation container
  • Airlock and stopper
  • Funnel
  • Yeast
  • Apple Cider
  • Auto-siphon, tubing, bottle filler
  • Bottles, caps, and a capper
  • Nice to Have: Hydrometer, test jar and carboy brush

This is the list we’ll be using to evaluate each option.  Let’s look at each of the picks in more detail:

Crooked Apple Hard Cider Starter Kit is simply the best hard cider kit available.  Period.  It provides a great set of equipment and ingredients at a very good value.  If you are new to making hard cider and looking to get started quickly and easily, this is the way to go.  

Let’s compare our “ideal kit” with the components included in this kit:

  • Sanitizing solution and cleaner – Come with oxygen wash cleaner and sanitizer.
  • 1-gallon fermentation container – This kit comes with a 1-gallon wide-mouth glass fermenter for primary fermentation, as well as a 1-gallon standard glass carboy for secondary fermentation.
  • Airlock and stopper – Comes with 2 airlocks and 2 stoppers (one for each fermenter).
  • Funnel – None, but not needed with the wide-mouth fermenter.
  • Yeast – Comes with 1 packet of yeast (enough for your first batch)
  • Apple Cider – Apple Cider concentrate included to make a 1-gallon batch.
  • Auto-siphon, tubing, bottle filler – Includes a mini-auto siphon, tubing and bottle filler.
  • Bottles, caps, and a capper – This kit comes with caps and capper, but no bottles.

Extra:

  • 2 adhesive temperature strips
  • 18-inch plastic paddle for stirring
  • Instructions

Individual items to augment this kit:

  • Bottles

Strengths:

  • This kit includes many items not available in other kits, such as 2 glass fermenters, an auto-siphon, and a capper.
  • All the equipment is very standard, meaning you’ll be able to use it for a variety of more advanced techniques should you continue to make hard cider.

Weaknesses:

  • You will need to get glass bottles in addition to the kit.  While this technically makes the kit not ‘all-inclusive’, it is usually better to get your bottles locally than buy online.  You’ll need about 10 pry-off style bottles, and you can reuse ones you’ve bought from the store (with beer, cider, etc. in them).
  • The instructions are pretty good, but confusing and non-standard in places (i.e.- using honey as a priming sugar).  I would recommend augmenting their instructions with the information on this site.

If you are looking for a one-stop shop for everything you’ll need to get started making hard cider, look no further!  The Brew Demon Hard Cider Kit Pro is a great hard cider kit and is the only kit currently available to come with a conical fermenter.  You don’t need to get extra ingredients or equipment to be up and running, and you can reuse the equipment over and over.  

This kit is also my top pick to give as a gift, since the giver doesn’t have to worry about giving an incomplete set or learning all about making hard cider to get the right thing.

Let’s compare our “ideal kit” with the components included in this kit:

  • Sanitizing solution and cleaner – Comes with one packet of one-step no-rinse cleanser.
  • 1-gallon fermentation container – This kit comes with a 2-gallon, conical fermenter and base.  The site doesn’t discuss conical fermenters too much.  They are like carboys except they trap the lees better and have a spigot for easy bottling.
  • Airlock and stopper – Yes.  Also comes with a venting as an alternative to the airlock.
  • Funnel – With a wide-mouth opening to the fermenter and spigot for bottling, you don’t need a funnel.
  • Yeast – Comes with 2 packets of hard cider brewing yeast
  • Apple Cider – Apple cider concentrate, and blueberry juice are included.
  • Auto-siphon, tubing, bottle filler – Tubing and bottle filler come in the kit, but an auto-siphon is not needed since the fermenter has a spigot.
  • Bottles, caps, and a capper – Comes with 8, 1-liter bottles and plastic reusable lids and labels.
  • Nice to Have: Hydrometer, test jar and carboy brush – None.

Extra:

  • Stick-on temperature gauge
  • Bottle labels
  • Plastic mixing spoon
  • Easy to follow brewing instructions

Individual items to augment this kit:

  • None for your first batch!  But you may want to get a hydrometer, test jar, and carboy brushes for future batches.

Strengths:

  • Best and most complete hard cider kit available.
  • The 2-gallon fermentation container gives you double the output of the 1-gallon options.

Weaknesses:

  • The equipment is great, but some people prefer a standard glass carboy to a conical fermenter.
  • While technically not a weakness, much of the equipment is made of plastic, and not glass.  While it is food-safe and doesn’t break as easy as glass, you’ll need to be very careful not to scratch it when cleaning it.  Tiny scratches can harbor bacteria in future.

Standard Hard Cider Kits

The Mr. Beer Cider Kit is one of the few kits that comes with bottles and full bottling capability, making it the top pick in the standard category.

The Craft a Brew Hard Cider Kit provides great value with standard equipment and ingredients to make 3 1-gallon batches.

At around half the price point of the premier kits, standard hard cider kits still provide most of the equipment needed to make your own hard cider, and a very good value.  These standard kits are a good option for those who aren’t sure if they are going to make more than a batch or two, or who already have some equipment.

The 2-gallon Cider Kit from Mr. Beer is a very good kit, and includes several components not typically found in the lower price range.  This kit doesn’t come with all the conventional equipment, but it does allow you to complete your first batch of hard cider using only the equipment and ingredients that come in the kit. 

Let’s compare our “ideal kit” with the components included in this kit:

  • Sanitizing solution and cleaner – A packet of no-rinse sanitizing cleanser.
  • 1-gallon fermentation container – This kit comes with a 2-gallon reusable lightweight shatter resistant fermenter with tap assembly.  It is made from FDA compliant plastic, BPA free, and imparts no taste or flavor migration.  This fermenter also has a spigot, secured with washer and nut.
  • Airlock and stopper – Come with airlock and screw-top stopper (not a more traditional rubber stopper).
  • Funnel –  Not needed since fermentation container has wide-mouth opening and spigot.
  • Yeast – Comes with 1 packet of yeast (enough for 1, 2-gallon batch)
  • Apple Cider – Comes with enough concentrate for 1, 2-gallon batch.
  • Auto-siphon, tubing, bottle filler – Not needed since the fermentation container has a spigot.  You can fill the bottles directly from the spigot. 
  • Bottles, caps, and a capper – Comes with 8 reusable 1-liter plastic bottles with caps and labels.

Extra:

  • Easy to follow brewing instructions

Individual items to augment this kit:

  • None for your first batch!  But you may want to get a hydrometer, test jar, and carboy brushes for future batches.

Strengths:

  • The spigot on the fermentation container make it very easy to bottle, eliminating the need for an auto-siphon, tubing, and a bottle filler.
  • The 2-gallon fermentation container gives you double the output of the 1-gallon options.
  • It’s the only standard kit that comes with all the items you’ll need to get started.

Weaknesses:

  • The equipment is great, but some of it is a little non-standard.  Some people prefer a standard 1-gallon glass carboy to a 2-gallon because many recipes and discussion is related to 1-gallon or 5-gallon batches.
  • While technically not a weakness, much of the equipment is made of plastic, and not glass.  While it is food-safe and doesn’t break as easy as glass, you’ll need to be very careful not to scratch it when cleaning it.  Tiny scratches can harbor bacteria in future batches.

Towards the bottom of the price range of the kits reviewed, the Craft a Brew hard cider kit doesn’t include everything you’ll need but provides a good value for the included items.  Notably, it is missing apple cider, a capper and bottles.  However, it does come with most of the equipment needed for your first batch at a good price.  If you get some apple cider and hinge-top bottles, you will be set for a while.  Unlike some other kits at this price point, it comes with enough yeast and sanitizer for 3, 1-gallon batches.

Let’s compare our “ideal kit” with the components included in this kit:

  • Sanitizing solution and cleaner – 3 packets of sanitizing cleanser.
  • 1-gallon fermentation container – 1-gallon glass fermenter.
  • Airlock and stopper – Comes with airlock and screw-top stopper (not a more traditional rubber stopper).
  • Funnel – Yes.
  • Yeast – Comes with 3 packets of yeast (enough for 3 batches)
  • Apple Cider – None
  • Auto-siphon, tubing, bottle filler – Includes a racking cane (not auto-siphon) and tubing.  Does not include a bottle filler (the instructions say to use a tubing clamp instead, which is not as easy).
  • Bottles, caps, and a capper – None

Extra:

  • Tubing clamp

Individual items to augment this kit:

  • Apple Cider
  • Auto-siphon
  • Bottles
  • Bottle capper and caps

Strengths:

  • This kit is amongst the cheapest offerings.
  • All the equipment is very standard, meaning you’ll be able to use it for a variety of more advanced techniques should you continue to make hard cider.

Weaknesses:

  • There are some items missing which you’ll need for your first batch, making this kit not ‘all-inclusive’.
  • The instructions are pretty good, but confusing and non-standard in places.  I would recommend augmenting their instructions with the information on this site.
 

The Brooklyn Brew hard cider making kit is nearly identical to the Craft A Brew kit.  The only difference is that it doesn’t come with a funnel and is a few dollars cheaper.  I would check the prices when you are ready to buy and see If they are comparable.  Decide how much you want a funnel or buy one to augment the Brooklyn Brew kit.

Individual items to augment this kit:

  • Auto-siphon
  • Bottles
  • Caps, Capper
  • Funnel 

2. Hard Cider Ingredient Kits:

Hard cider ingredient kits come in a variety of names such as ingredient kits, recipe kits, refill kits, but they all include the ingredients needed to make a batch of hard cider.  Typically, that includes a juice concentrate and hard cider yeast.  You will need to add water to reconstitute the juice, and most will instruct you to add sugar as well (to increase alcohol content).  

Juice and yeast are certainly available without buying a kit, but the benefit of a kit is that it gives you the right type of cider to make a great tasting hard cider.  Most store-bought juices are not made to make a full-bodied, robust hard cider.  They are designed to be highly sweet and appeal to a mass consumer.

Ingredient kits are perfect for someone that buys a hard cider kit and makes their first batch using the ingredients that are included in that kit.  An ingredient kit is a perfect option to make the next few batches, because you don’t have to deal with the complications of juice or yeast selection. 

The two types of ingredient kits are ones that aim to make a larger batch (5-6 gallons) and ones that aim to make a smaller batch (1-2 gallons).

Large Batch Ingredient Kits

Mangrove Jack’s is a very popular 6-gallon hard cider recipe kit!

Brew House Select offers lots of flavors to try and enjoy!

Mangrove Jack has several great flavors of hard cider available in their Hard Cider Recipe Kits.  Their kits all come with enough juice concentrate and hard cider yeast (Mangrove Jacks M02 Cider Yeast) to make up to a 6-gallon batch of hard cider.  Additionally, the kits come with a sweetener that can be used to make the hard cider sweeter (can you all, part, or none of the sweetener to meet your taste).  

List of flavors:

Brewer’s Best has a great set of hard cider ingredient kits branded as ‘Cider House Select premium craft cider kits’.  They come in a wide range of flavors, each of which is enough for making up to 6 gallons of hard cider with a 5.2% alcohol by volume content.  

The kit comes with a juice concentrate and hard cider yeast.  To make the hard cider, you will need to add water and 2 pounds of sugar (not included; dextrose recommended).  You will also need to get additional sugar for carbonation (if wanted).  The kits also come with instructions for how to make the cider.

List of flavors:

Small Batch Ingredient Kits

Mr. Beer offers a refill kit for their hard cider kit.  The refill kit comes with enough juice concentrate and hard cider yeast to make a 2-gallon batch (the same size as their equipment kit).  A packet of no-rinse sanitizing cleanser is included as well.

You don’t need to add any additional sugar when using this refill kit, but the result is a hard cider with only 4% alcohol by volume.  If you want a higher alcohol content, you can add sugar prior to fermentation (which many other recipe kits instruct you to do).

Brew Demon has a recipe kit that makes 2 gallons of hard cider, the same size as their hard cider kit uses.  The refill uses only 100% New Zealand apples and comes with hard cider yeast and no-rinse sanitizing cleanser.  Their instructions recommend adding 1.5 cups of white sugar, but you can use a different source of sugar if you’d like.

 

3. General Homebrew Equipment Kits

If you don’t have any brewing equipment, I would strongly suggest you buy a kit which includes most or all the pieces you’ll need (they also make great gifts!).  Buying an equipment kit reduces the complexity and cost of acquiring all or most of the hard cider equipment you’ll need to get started.  

There are quite a few to choose from, both at brick-and-mortar homebrew stores as well as online.  While many are very similar, there are some important differences to consider when selecting one.  I’ve looked carefully, and here’s what I recommend: 

The K7 kit from Home Brew Ohio is affordable and contains great equipment that will get you started on large batches in no time!

The Deluxe Kit from Northern Brewer has a higher price tag but offers the best equipment.  Perfect for a gift or to treat yourself to a high-quality set!

Strange Brew offers a winemaking kit that will double as most of the equipment needed to make hard cider.  Perfect for anyone wanting to make wine and hard cider!

When looking for an equipment kit to buy, it’s good to start with a list of equipment you’d like to have.  A good baseline for the equipment you’ll need to for making hard cider includes:

  • 6.5-gallon fermentation bucket with lid
  • 5-gallon glass carboy
  • Airlock and stopper
  • Hydrometer and test jar
  • Auto-siphon, hosing, bottle filler
  • Sanitizing solution
  • Beer bottles, caps, and a capper
  • Carboy brush

One thing to consider is that most brew kits are designed for brewing beer.  The good news is that most of the same equipment is needed for making hard cider as well.  2 of the elements common in the kits that you won’t need are:

  • A brew kettle
  • Ingredients and instructions for first batch of beer (malt, hops, etc.)

If you plan on making beer as well as cider, get a kit that includes those.  If you only want to make hard cider, I recommend finding one that comes without those.  Let’s look at each of the picks in more detail.

 

This is my overall recommendation as the best kit to get you started making hard cider.  While it is missing a few items, with a price tag under $100 (and free shipping), you can buy a few individual items and still have a great overall value.

Let’s compare our “ideal kit” with the components included in this kit:

  • 6.5-gallon fermentation bucket with lid – The K7 comes with a 7.8-gallon fermentation bucket, which is great to give extra room during primary fermentation.  It includes a lid, and even has a bottling spigot as well.
  • 5-gallon glass carboy – K7 comes with a 5-gallon glass carboy, which is not too common in equipment kits.
  • Airlock and stopper – The K7 includes a universal fit stopper and a 3-piece airlock.
  • Hydrometer and test jar – The kit includes a hydrometer but not a test jar.
  • Auto-siphon, hosing, bottle filler – The K7 comes with hosing and a bottle filler but includes a simple racking cane instead of an auto-siphon.  An auto-siphon and racking cane look very similar but a racking cane is designed to start a siphon and a racking cane isn’t.  The bottling bucket spigot will help with bottling but any transfer of the cider other than that will be much harder without an auto-siphon.
  • Sanitizing solution – Doesn’t include Star Sans but does include an 8-pack of c-bring sanitizer.
  • Beer bottles, caps, and a capper – The kit comes with a double lever, hand-style capper.  It does not come with bottles or caps.
  • Carboy brush – K7 includes a single bottle brush.

Missing:

  • Auto-siphon
  • Hydrometer test jar
  • Bottles and caps

Extra:

  • Brew handbook,
  • Adhesive thermometer strip (sticks to outside of carboy to tell you temperature of liquid inside)

Strengths:

  • I really like that it comes with a 5-gallon glass carboy.  Most kits either exclusively use plastic buckets, while some have a plastic (PET) and a higher price tag.  The glass carboy lets you see the cider as it ferments as well as keeps head space to a minimum.  You’ll want to be careful as glass is heavy and can break.

Weaknesses:

  • It comes with a racking cane instead of an auto-siphon.  While both these devices help you move the cider between containers, the auto-siphon is much, much easier to use.  I would strongly recommend buying an auto-siphon to complement this kit.
  • You’ll also need to buy caps and bottles.  Caps are very cheap, and I would recommend saving bottles and using them (you can buy empty ones for around $1/bottle or get them for just over that at a grocery store with beer or cider in them!).  If you must, you can order bottles online as well.

If you are more interested in a complete kit than the price tag, take a close look at this fantastic kit.  It comes with 2 carboys (6-gallon and 5-gallon) as well as a bottling bucket (most kits only come with a single carboy and a bottling bucket, or 2 carboys and no bucket).  It does come with some beer specific items such as a large brew pot, and a kit of ingredients for making a batch of beer.

  • 6.5 gallon fermentation bucket with lid – This kit comes with a 6-gallon glass carboy as well as a plastic bottling bucket with spigot.  Either of these make great options for primary fermentation, and both give extra room in making a 5-gallon batch.
  • 5 gallon glass carboy – This kit comes with a 5-gallon glass carboy, which is not too common in equipment kits.
  • Airlock and stopper – The K7 includes 2 stoppers and airlocks; for the 5-gallon and 6-gallon carboys.  It also comes with a blow off hose, which could be helpful if the primary fermentation is very active.
  • Hydrometer and test jar – No hydrometer included.
  • Auto-siphon, hosing, bottle filler – This kit comes with an auto-siphon, bottle filler, as well as tubing. 
  • Sanitizing solution – Doesn’t include sanitizing solution.
  • Beer bottles, caps, and a capper – The kit comes with a double lever, hand-style capper and caps.  It does not come with bottles.
  • Carboy brush – This kit includes a brush for cleaning carboys, as well as a smaller brush for cleaning bottles.

Missing:

  • Hydrometer, which is strange considering how important a hydrometer is in brewing.  You’ll need to buy one separately as well as a test jar for the hydrometer.
  • Bottles
  • Sanitizing Solution

Extra:

  • Instructional DVD
  • Funnel
  • Adhesive thermometer strip (sticks to outside of carboy to tell you temperature of liquid inside)
  • Chinook IPA Beer Recipe Kit
  • Carboy Dryer
  • Brewing Cleaner

Making hard cider is more like making wine than beer, so it makes sense to consider an equipment kit targeted at winemakers.  If you are also interested in making wine (or think you might be in the future), I recommend this great winemaking kit from Strange Brew.

  • 6.5 gallon fermentation bucket with lid – This kit comes with a 7.8-gallon fermentation bucket with lid and adhesive thermometer.
  • 5 gallon glass carboy – This kit comes with a 6-gallon glass carboy, which will allow for slightly larger batches.
  • Airlock and stopper – This kit includes 2 stoppers and 3-piece airlocks; one for the carboy and one for the fermentation bucket.
  • Hydrometer and test jar – A standard triple scale hydrometer with test jar is included.
  • Auto-siphon, hosing, bottle filler – This kit comes with an auto-siphon, bottle filler, as well as 5 feet of tubing. 
  • Sanitizing solution – Doesn’t include sanitizing solution but does come with 8 packets of c-brite cleaner.
  • Beer bottles, caps, and a capper – The kit comes with a double lever, hand-style capper and caps.  It does not come with bottles.
  • Carboy brush – This kit includes a smaller brush for cleaning wine bottles.

Missing:

  • Bottles
  • Sanitizing Solution
  • Standard caps and capper

Extra:

  • Adhesive thermometer strip (sticks to outside of carboy to tell you temperature of liquid inside)
  • Cleaner
  • 30 natural micro-agglomerated corks
  • Twin lever corker
  • De-gassing rod
  • 24-inch plastic spoon
Close Menu