I love when someone walks into my house and says, "Mmm! It smells so good in here!" Sometimes it's because I've been baking, and other times it's because I have a pot simmer going on the stove. These holiday pot simmer recipes will help bring extra holiday cheer into your home with their warm, comforting scent wafting from the kitchen and into every room.
4 Holiday Pot Simmer Recipes
I once had an old roommate tell me that the secret to having people think your house is clean, is to make it smell clean. Chances are they won't look close enough to see the dog fur and crumbs. They'll just trust their nose and walk away talking about how clean your house always is.
I've been using that little trick ever since--especially when guests stop by at a moment's notice. And one of my favorite ways to get a wonderful-smelling house is with pot simmers. These babies give off the scent of whatever ingredients you choose, so you can mix and match them however you like.
I'm a huge fan of herbs and spices, dried fruit, essential oils and coffee. But I'm always experimenting with new ingredients and trying out new scents so I don't get bored.
How to make your own Holiday Pot Simmer Recipes
Once I have the ingredients picked out, I package these up in little glassine bags so they are ready at a moment's notice. (And they're great for giving out as neighbor gifts - a nice change from sweets!)
All of the components I've used here are dried or preserved in some way, but fresh fruit can easily be used instead. They just won't last as long and should be used immediately so the ingredients don't spoil.
Once you've put your bags together, the contents can be emptied into a small saucepan along with a bit of water. Set it on your stove and bring it to a simmer to release the wonderful scent.
1. Spiced Coffee Pot Simmer
Ohhh, what smells better during the winter months than warm spices and coffee? This pot simmer smells just like your favorite coffee house. Bonus points for using this pot simmer while making sugar cookies.
What you need:
—¼ cup whole roasted coffee beans
—Whole spices (3-4 cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon whole cardamom pods, 4 star anise, and 1 teaspoon allspice berries)
2. Cran-Apple Spice Pot Simmer
This one reminds me of the holidays and is perfect for simmering when you have a houseful of hungry guests. How it smells: fruity and spicy, like wassail.
Feel free to swap out the apples for pears and add a couple cinnamon sticks for a warmer fragrance.
What you need:
—¼ cup dried cranberries (or ½ cup fresh)
—¼ cup dried apple rings (or ½ fresh apple, sliced)
—a few slices dried ginger (use equal amount of fresh)
3. Citrus Juniper Pot Simmer
This is one of my favorites because it looks just as good as it smells. How it smells: fresh, bright and woodsy
What you need:
—3-4 slices dried oranges
—1-2 tablespoons dried lemon peel
—1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
4. Grapefruit Cinnamon Pot Simmer
Cinnamon is a very clarifying and purifying aroma on its own. Even just boiling a couple of sticks by themselves does wonders for getting rid of smells and adding that gorgeous, spiced aroma to your home. Grapefruit peel adds a little bit of lightness to the cinnamon, but it’s also a fantastic air-clarifying smell.
What you need:
—A stick of cinnamon
—A peel of grapefruit
—A shake or two of allspice or nutmeg
Some other amazing natural aromatics that you can add are vanilla pods, cloves, and ginger.
How to use a pot simmer
Add ingredients to a large saucepan of water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Keep it on low, and make sure to add water when needed.
Just let it simmer all day. It goes without saying, but this is definitely something you only want going while you’re at home to keep an eye on it.
Keeping it on a low temperature also ensures that steam isn’t billowing out of it (it shouldn’t be!) since that can cause too much moisture and potentially lead to mold—not what we’re going for here.
The water releases moisture in the form of steam, the same way as a humidifier. To circulate the moist air, add a fan next to the stove to blow the air around a bit. This makes sure that the super-comforting aroma spreads throughout the house.
A little bit of added moisture in the air is great for the house—and your skin. Adding a little bit of humidity to the air makes a huge difference in the moisture content of your skin, bonus!
Photos by Ana-Maria Stanciu254