Easy Simmer Pot Recipes

Tis the season to make your home smell amazing. Here are my three favorite simmer pot recipes to try this season!

orange simmer pot rough and tumble farmhouse

What is a simmer pot?

A simmer pot is simply a pot of water with fragrant herbs, fruits, and maybe essential oils, that simmer away on your stove all day. They are a great way to celebrate the fall and winter season. Simmer pots are a natural way to make your whole house smell lovely without using artificial scents. 

Are simmer pots a new invention?

Nope! Simmer pots have been around for centuries. Historically they were used for the same reasons we do today, as aeromatic air fresheners.  Simmer pots weren’t limited to the winter season and were used year-round, as they were believed to have health benefits depending on which herbs were simmered together. 

Can I use dried simmer pot ingredients?

Yes! No need to use fresh ingredients if you don’t have them on hand. Dried oranges, apples, herbs, etc. can be used in simmer pot recipes. If using dried herb, use about 1/2 Tablespoon of dried herbs in place of fresh.  You can also use orange/apple/pear peels in place of whole oranges if you would rather eat the fruit 

Three Simple Simmer Pot Recipes

There are a ton of recipes about there but these are some of my favorite combinations. They use simple ingredients so it shouldn’t be too hard to track them down if you don’t already have them on hand.

Christmas Orange

This is probably my favorite simmer pot recipe! It is perfect at Christmas time to give the house a fresh festive scent. 

  • 2 Sliced oranges
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks 
  • Tablespoon of whole cloves or 3-4 star anise
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 2 Quarts Water

Fresh Apple Pie

When pie isn’t on the menu but you want your house to smell like one anyway, this is a simple way to get that cozy smell throughout your entire house.

  • 2 Apple Slices
  • 1, 1-2 inch piece of ginger root, sliced
  • 4 drops vanilla
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 Quarts Water
apple pie simmer pot rough and tumble farmhouse

Baked Pear

This one is a classic Christmas simmer pot for sure. I imagine it is what the house in Little Women would have smelled like at the holiday. Although I wouldn’t hesitate to use it as a fall simmer pot recipe either.

  • 2 Sliced Pears
  • 1/2 Lemon, sliced
  • 2 Drops Mint Extract
  • 4 Drops Vanilla
  • 2 Quarts Water

How to Use a Simmer Pot

Choose one of my favorite recipes above and add them to a medium or large pot that is 3 quarts or larger. 

Place the pot on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce to low heat. Allow the pot to roll at a low simmer as long as you want. 

The water level will go down as it simmers. You can add more fresh water if you want and keep it simmering away I find two quarts (a half gallon) of water will simmer just about the entire day.  I’ve also used the same pot of ingredients the next day and still had a wonderful fragrance.

using a simmer pot rough and tumble farmhouse

What do I do with leftover ingredients?

This is the one downside of a simmer pot, it might be seen as wasteful to boil fruits and a pot of spices to just toss them out later.

Personally, I find it is a good way to use up fruit that is a little past its prime or just plain gross. We’ve all had that bag of oranges that looked great but tasted like wood pulp. Guess what? They still will smell fantastic in a simmer pot.

Pears got too mushy too fast? Simmer those suckers up!

After the simmer pot is spent, I toss the scraps to my chickens. They love it. You can also throw it in your compost, or heck even see if your backyard birds want to snack on it. 

Will a Crockpot work?

Sure thing. If you don’t have the stove space you can certainly add all the ingredients to a crock pot and let it simmer away. Some folks keep the lid on and still get that great smell. I like to have the lid off to get all that good steam in the air. Part of the benefit of a simmer pot is getting moisture into our dry house during the winter months. 

Adding Essential Oils

I don’t like to add essential oils to simmer pots because we have pets. Some oils are highly toxic to cats and dogs and will make them very sick if inhaled for long periods. The ASPCA also has more information on this.

Additionally, humans may be sensitive to certain essential oils.

Rather than essential oils, I like to use extracts. You can get just about any scent in extract form and it doesn’t come with the risk factor associated with essential oils.

​Make Your Own Simmer Pot Recipe

It’s easy to experiment and make your own simmer pot recipes. 

Start with a base fruit. This could be orange slices, apple slices, lemon, pear, etc. Citrus fruits will give you a fresh, zesty scent. Fresh fruits like pears, apples, etc, will give you a deeper, earthy scent.

Next, decide if you want to add in another fruity scent. Are you wanting something that is just apple-y? Or do you want something with apple and a little zing? Start with two apples and add in one half a lemon or orange. You can try any combination of fruit you have on hand. 

Finally, decide on your aromatics. What kinds of fresh herbs might smell great? Rosemary gives a nice pine scent. Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom pods, and star anise will send you more in a baked goods direction. Check out any of the ingredients in pumpkin pie spice and experiment with those.

Other ingredients you might try are pine needles (make sure they aren’t too sappy) and cranberries. 

This is a place to really have fun with it. Start by slicing up your desired fruits, then smell some of your spices alongside the sliced fruits. Does it smell amazing? Toss some in the pot!

simmer pot ingredients rough and tumble farmhouse

Other Holiday Ideas

Looking for more holiday inspiration? 

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