Fill your home with the scent of the holidays with this easy stovetop simmer pot. With just a few fresh seasonal ingredients, a large pot, and water, your home can transform into a delicious smelling holiday haven.
This simmer pot recipe contains everything I love about the scent of the holiday season – pine, citrus, cinnamon, and all things cozy. It’s a great rainy day or snow day activity, and something you can also make with kids. Just throw everything into a pot, let it simmer, and enjoy the aroma while you curl up on the couch with a good Christmas movie.
Holiday Simmer Pot
What is a simmer pot?
A simmer pot, or stovetop potpourri, is an all-natural way to create a beautiful smell throughout your home by simmering fresh ingredients and spices in water over a large pot. I like to use my Le Creuset dutch oven, but any large pot will work.
Although you can easily light a candle to make your home smell like the holidays, there’s something special about a simmer pot and the use of fresh ingredients. It’s kind of like the scent of fresh-baked cookies, although I’m sure you can find a candle like it, we all know the real thing smells superior.
Ingredients for Your Holiday Simmer Pot
You can use a variety of ingredients and spices for your holiday simmer pot. Choose from as many or as little from the following:
My favorites to use in a simmer pot are cinnamon sticks and whole cloves because they give off a delightfully fragrant aroma, and to me, they’re the foundation of a great holiday scent. Other spices you can use include star anise, all spice berries, and event ground nutmeg.
One great thing about simmer pots is that they are highly flexible, and you can use what you already have in your house.
Oranges are probably the most traditional citruses for the holidays, but we have a lemon tree in our backyard and so I sliced up one of those for good measure. Heck, I even added an almost mealy apple into this mix! (Not a citrus, I know, but still worked.)
You can also try mandarin oranges, grapefruits, and even kumquats.
Toss in some seasonal herbs for that touch of earthiness: rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaves.
Cranberries, while probably the least fragrant of the ingredient bunch, are more for the visuals of your holiday simmer pot. The red adds a fun burst of color, an ever-so-light fragrance, and they’re simply just a holiday staple.
I used fresh cranberries, but you can also use the frozen kind.
If you have a fresh tree, snip a sprig or two to add to your Christmas simmer pot. The added boost of fresh pine is like a little cherry on top of your concoction.
How to Make a Holiday Simmer Pot
Making a holiday simmer pot is super easy. Grab your ingredients, a large pot, and follow these simple steps:
- Fill a large pot about ½ – ¾ full with water
- Add all fresh ingredients and spices to the pot
- Stir, then bring to a low simmer
- Simmer as long as you’d like over low heat, adding water as needed
IMPORTANT Simmer pot Tips
As your simmer pot simmers, the water will evaporate over time. Be sure to check the water level every couple of hours, and add more water as needed so that the pot is always about ½ – ¾ full of water.
I don’t have exact measurements for the ingredients because it really depends on what you have on hand, but here’s a rough estimate:
- Cinnamon sticks: 3-4 sticks
- Cloves: a tablespoon or large pinch
- Citrus: about 1-2 fruits, cut into slices
- Herbs: a few sprigs
- Cranberries: Enough to cover the water’s surface
You want to make sure you have enough stuff in your simmer pot so that its aroma can fill the air, but it shouldn’t be too stuffed. If you stir your pot and your spoon isn’t running into things, add more. If you’re unable to stir what’s in your pot, you have too much in there.
Re-Use Your Simmer Pot
Don’t throw out your pot after just one use! Depending on how long you use your simmer pot, you can get 2-3 days out of it. When you’re done for the day, remove the pot from the heat, let everything cool completely, then cover it until the next day. Be sure to add more water each time you re-use your simmer pot.