Christmas Simmer Pot (Easy & Simple Stovetop Potpourri)


Make your home smell like the holidays with this easy and simple stovetop simmer pot. Did you know you can infuse your space the most wonderful scent just by simmering some simple ingredients in a pot? Use a variety of fresh ingredients, such as the ones we’ve listed here. We like to use orange slices, cranberries, rosemary, pine branches, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, whole cloves, and nutmeg for a wonderful holiday fragrance. This combination of ingredients, when kept on a low simmer in a large pot, gives off the most beautiful aroma for all of your holiday and winter gatherings.

Overhead view pot filled with all ingredients for Christmas Simmer Pot, fresh cranberries, orange slices, pine sprigs, and cinnamon sticks.

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Christmas Stovetop Potpourri

We love the smell of a burning Christmas candle, but we don’t love what scented candles might release into the air around us. This simmering pot of Christmas potpourri is a natural way to replace those fragrant candles you love with a non-toxic, non-burning solution. Think of it as “real food for your home,” and the way our Grandmas and Great Grandmothers used to scent their homes. We also love how easy it is to change the scent simply by selecting different ingredients to simmer. Below we share a list of ideas and swaps you can make for your Christmas simmer pot.

Recipe Highlight: Simmer Pot

  • Fills your home with a beautiful spiced, cranberry-orange aroma which is perfect for the holidays
  • Easy to make in just a few minutes and with simple ingredients
  • Change up the ingredients to create your own unique fragrance
  • It’s a safer and non-toxic way to make your home smell like your favorite Christmas scented candle
Overhead view all ingredients for Holiday Simmer Potpourri arranged on wooden cutting board.

Ingredients To Make A Christmas Simmer Pot

This combination of ingredients gives up the most beautiful aroma as it simmers. It will fill your home with cheer and good spirits. Here is our version of Stovetop Christmas Potpourri:

  • Fresh cranberries – you could use frozen, too
  • Oranges – fresh or dried slices
  • Cinnamon sticks – may substitute ground cinnamon
  • Whole cloves – may substitute ground cloves
  • All spice berries – may substitute ground allspice
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Rosemary sprig
  • Fresh evergreen – an optional ingredient. If you have a fresh Christmas tree in your home, you could use some clippings from that tree or an outdoor one
  • Water – can substitute apple juice or apple cider

Find the ingredients list with exact measurements in the printable recipe card below.

Overhead view large pot filled with water, fresh cranberries, orange slices, evergreen sprig and spices for holiday potpourri.

What is a Simmer Pot?

A simmer pot is a pot of fresh ingredients and liquid that give off a beautiful aroma from your whole home. As the liquid and fragrant ingredients heat, they release a natural and wonderful aroma into the air that makes your home smell cozy and perfect for the holidays.

All Christmas Recipes

A hand placing a cinnamon stick and fresh rosemary sprig into a pot filled with water, cranberries, and orange slices
A white pot filled with Christmas Potpourri of fresh cranberries, orange slices, evergreen sprigs and water on a stovetop.

How to make A simmer pot Recipe

Making a simmer pot is so simple. And it’s a great way to use food scrapes, such as citrus peels and fruit rinds instead of throwing them out.

  1. Fill a large pot 3/4 full with water.
  2. To the pot, add all of the stovetop potpourri ingredients
  3. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer
  4. Simmer as long as you would like, adding water as needed.

How to Make Simmer Pot Video

A white Caraway pot on the stovetop filled with holiday potpourri of fresh cranberries, orange slices, and fresh rosemary.

Our Favorite Pot for This Simmer Pot

We love Caraway Home Cookware and Bakeware. Not only are they beautiful but most importantly they are made with naturally smooth, super slick, ceramic instead of synthetics like polytetrafluoroethylene (such as Teflon®) which is a chemical that can leach toxic substances into your food and the air.

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Crockpot Simmer Pot

Yes, you can make a simmer pot in a slow cooker! Follow the instructions as written but instead use a slow cooker. Turn on high. When it starts to steam, remove the lid and switch to the low setting. Add water as needed.

Close up view Christmas simmer pot ingredients, fresh cranberries, orange slices, pine sprigs, and cinnamon sticks.

How to change up the aroma

There are so many delightful options when it comes to simmering pots and stovetop potpourri. You can use the list below to make your own combination to simmer. Leave out ingredients you don’t have on hand, or add more of one if you really like the scent.

  • Cranberries
  • Citrus fruits – fresh or dried slices of oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruit
  • Apple slices or peels – dried or fresh
  • Pear slices or peels – dried or fresh
  • Spices – ground, fresh, or dried cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamon, star anise, pumpkin pie spice
  • Herbs – dried or fresh rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, bay leaves
  • Pine or Evergreen
  • Dried lavender
  • Vanilla extract
  • Essential oils
  • Apple juice or cider
Close up view pine sprig floating in water with fresh cranberries and orange slices around.


How to make Christmas simmering potpourri gift bags

Here’s how you can turn this stovetop simmer into a gift that everyone will love.

  • From the list above, choose a combination of ingredients you love or use the ingredients listed in the recipe below.
  • Use ingredients that are dried and/or have a long shelf life if able. If not all of the ingredients are shelf-stable, simply add to the gift, “simmer within 2 weeks”.
  • Place the ingredients in a clear cellophane bag or clear box. Add a bow or pretty twine to make it festive.
  • To a tag or card, write the instructions for simmering.
A white Caraway pot filled with fresh cranberries, orange slices, and pine sprigs in water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will the simmer pot last?

That depends on the ingredients you use, fresh or dried, and how much liquid is in your pot. Typically, we enjoy the scent of a simmer pot for 2-3 days. We simmer it for a few hours each day. Then turn off the heat. When the liquid is done steaming, cover the pot and let it sit on the turned-ff stovetop until you simmer it again the next day, adding more fresh water as needed. For a longer lasting simmer pot, up to 7 days, refrigerate the pot between uses (after it has cooled). Add fresh ingredients and water as needed.

What are the benefits of a simmer pot?

A stovetop potpourri is a natural way to fill your home with a beautiful aroma. It’s also a great way to use leftover foods scraps, such as citrus rinds, fruit peels and cores, and fresh herbs. Instead of throwing the scraps or aging herbs away, give them a second life by making a fragrant simmer pot of natural fragrance!

What should I do with the ingredients in my simmer pot when I’m done with it?

When you are done with your simmer pout, strain the water off and compost or dispose of the ingredients.

What is in Christmas potpourri?

They are many ways you can make a beautiful smelling Christmas potpourri. In our version of a Christmas stovetop potpourri we include whole cranberries, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice berries, ground nutmeg, rosemary sprigs, and pine sprigs.

Can you drink a simmer pot?

This recipe isn’t created for sipping, but rather as a natural fragrance to fill your home. However, as long as you use only food-based ingredients, you could drink the liquid from a simmer pot. If you do plan to drink it, we recommend using apple juice or cider as the base and add food-based ingredients that produce a desirable flavor you would want to sip on, similar to a homemade simmering apple cider. You would also want to drink it during the first use.

Overhead view pine sprigs, fresh cranberries, and orange slices with spices in water for a holiday simmer pot.

More Christmas Inspiration

All Holiday Inspiration

When to Make a Simmer Pot

Simmer pots are something you can enjoy year round. By changing up the ingredients you can make a simmer pot that’s suitable for any seasons or occasion. For this particular simmer pot recipe, we like to make it during the holidays so our Thanksgiving and Christmas guests can enjoy the wonderful seasonal scent, too.

Overhead view white pot filled with ingredients for Christmas Simmer Pot, sitting on red and white striped towel.


Christmas Simmer Pot (Stovetop Potpourri)

This simmering pot of Christmas potpourri takes the place of the scented candles we all love to burn, but in a more natural way. It’s like real food for your home, filling the air with a beautiful aroma the way our Grandmas used to scent their homes.

Prep: 5 minutesCook: 10 minutesTotal: 15 minutes

Servings: 1 simmer pot 1x


  • Large pot
  • Water (may substitute apple juice or apple. cider)
  • 12 cups whole fresh or frozen cranberries (enough to cover the surface of the water)
  • 1 large orange, sliced (may substitute dried orange slices or another citrus)
  • 24 rosemary and/or pine sprigs 
  • 46 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 12 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 


  1. Fill a large pot 3/4 full with water and place over high heat.
  2. To the pot, add all of the ingredients.
  3. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on low for 2-3 hours. 
  4. Add more water, as needed, so there is always some liquid in the pot.

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This simmer pot will last 2-7 days:

After simmering for a few hours, allow to cool, then cover the pot and let it sit on the turned-off stove until the next day. Remove the lid and bring it to a simmer again then next day. Add fresh water as needed so there is always liquid in the pot.

For a longer lasting simmer pot, up to 7 days, refrigerate the pot of ingredients (after the liquid has cooled) between uses. Add fresh ingredients and water as needed.

When you’re done with the simmer pot, strain out the liquid and compost or dispose of the ingredients. 

© The Real Food Dietitians

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Overhead view pot filled with cranberries, orange slices, pine sprigs, cinnamon sticks and water for a stovetop potpourri.

For ultimate success, we highly recommend reading the tips in the full blog post above. All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish a recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words. Link back to the source recipe here on The Real Food Dietitians. Thank you!

Stacie Hassing

Stacie Hassing

Stacie is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian from rural southern Minnesota where she, her husband and daughter reside with their two pups. She’s a co-founder of The Real Food RDs and content creator of simple and wholesome recipes. She loves all kinds of fitness and has a passion to inspire as many as she can live a healthier and happier life both in and out of the kitchen – the driving force behind the co-development of the The Real Food RDs brand.

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