Like homemade foodie potpourri!

homemade simmering spices - how to make your house smell amazing during the holidays! I

Growing up, my mom had this little crockpot that she filled with potpourri and liquid or spices. NOTHING filled the house with scent quite like that did.

This is my spur-of-the-moment version. And you can totally use a crockpot!

homemade simmering spices - how to make your house smell amazing during the holidays! I

There are zero rules here: use whatever you’d like. You just add it all to big pot of water and simmer it on low heat. It works for sure – a few years ago I walked into a house and was hit in the face with the most holiday-like scent ever. Turns out it was just a big pot of simmering spices on the stove. Craze.

I used what I had on hand, which included orange peels, dried orange peel, an apple, cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, fresh ginger and star anise. I was super tempted to use a vanilla bean but they are such precious commodities around here that I couldn’t bear it. Possibly at Christmas time!

I really love exclamation points today, by the way.

homemade simmering spices - how to make your house smell amazing during the holidays! I

so.freaking.simple. And natural too.

I love using it in the crockpot since I have a gas range. It’s just easier and then I don’t have to think about it for a few hours. If you give it a shot, let me know! Fake foodie candles for the win.

homemade simmering spices - how to make your house smell amazing during the holidays! I


Homemade Simmering Spices


5 cups water
2 navel oranges, peeled
1 apple, sliced in half
3 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
1 teaspoon-sized knob of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cardamom pods
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel


Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan and heat over low heat until simmering. I have kept this going for a few hours, adding additional water when needed. You can also throw everything in the crockpot and set it on low or high with the top off.

homemade simmering spices - how to make your house smell amazing during the holidays! I

It’s so pretty too. I kind of want to eat everything in there.

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88 Responses to “How To Make Your House Smell Amazing During The Holidays.”

  1. #
    Shundara@SavyNaturalista — November 27, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

    I usually do it in the crock pot and always want to bake something that smells just like it.. Lovely scents! I wish I was at your house right now :) All those spices


  2. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — November 27, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

    I wish I had a scratch and sniff screen because I can almost smell it now! It’s gotta be pure heaven! Who needs Yankee candles :)


  3. #
    Maggie — November 27, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

    PRO TIP: Set a timer or SOMETHING – a reminder on your phone, etc. to help you remember to either ADD MORE WATER or TURN THIS THING OFF. You know, so that you don’t forget about it and then leave the house for a couple of hours and then come back home to a smoky house and ruined pan full of scorched potpourri ingredients. Not that I speak from experience or anything…. Also holy terrifying :(


    • Kandra — April 19th, 2015 @ 4:16 pm

      A lady told me at the store the other day that if you burn food in a pan add a couple teaspoons of cream of tartar and boil some water in the pan and it will come clean.. not that you need this advice or anything lol.


      • sylvia — September 22nd, 2015 @ 7:58 am

        I have done this for years only I use baking soda. Let it boil for a few minutes, check the water and see how loose the burnt on food is. If not loose yet add more water, if needed, let boil for a few more minutes. This works really well.

  4. #
    Laura — November 27, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

    I just did this when I got home from work today! I used rosemary, vanilla, cinnamon and orange. Mmm! Happy thanksgiving!


    • Barbara — November 12th, 2014 @ 12:18 am

      how much of each, thanks


  5. #
    Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs — November 27, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

    Ooooh, I bet this smells delicious! Great idea for a holiday party!


  6. #
    Katerina — November 27, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

    How cool is this??Thanks for the tip!


  7. #
    Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate — November 27, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

    I can only imagine how amazing this smells. Nothing like some home made holiday popurri!


  8. #
    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — November 27, 2013 @ 7:07 pm



  9. #
    Two Red Bowls — November 27, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

    I LOVE this idea! I poached pears a few weeks ago in a mixture that made the apartment smell out of this world… It didn’t occur to me to do something like this just for the smell! So worth it. Love this idea, thanks so much for posting!


  10. #
    Melissa — November 27, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

    What a great idea! I love this alternative to candles, which is typically how I make my house smell nice, but it’s always good to have another idea.


  11. #
    JulieD — November 27, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

    Love these photos so much!!! :)


  12. #
    Tieghan — November 27, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

    These photos are so pretty!! I wish I could smell through the screen!


  13. #
    Becki's Whole Life — November 27, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

    This is such a great idea! I used to simmer potpourri in water on the stovetop, but I burned it a few times so I stopped. I like the crockpot idea for that very reason. I actually have one of those mini crocks so maybe I will pull it out tomorrow for this!


  14. #
    Kristin — November 28, 2013 @ 12:12 am

    I can almost smell it now! Thank you for your post and beautiful pics!


  15. #
    ThisBakerGirlBlogs — November 28, 2013 @ 3:22 am

    I wish cameras could also capture scent because I bet that smells just divine! :)


  16. #
    Jenna — November 28, 2013 @ 4:50 am

    If you put some sugar in the mix then surely you could use it as some kind of syrup mixer for drinks? I would just want to eat it too and would be a bit sad if I couldn’t!


  17. #
    Gaia — November 28, 2013 @ 5:51 am

    Fab idea!
    I had the same yesterday night when caramelizing clementines.
    The citrus scent spread in the kitchen donating happiness to all.
    next time I use yuor idea!


  18. #
    Barbara | Creative Culinary — November 28, 2013 @ 11:29 am

    This is what I do too; so much nicer than too sweet candle smells and I can vary it up a lot. I actually use a little crockpot I bought just for simmering spices; takes up little counter space and works like a charm.

    Happy Thanksgiving Jessica!


  19. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — November 29, 2013 @ 9:55 am

    Diggidy done.


  20. #
    Molly @ Bakelette — November 29, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

    Gorgeous pictures, bet it smelled out of this world!


  21. #
    Natalie @ In Natalie's Shoes — November 30, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

    And you say you don’t craft! This is totally crafty. Cannot wait to have this smell wafting through my house.


  22. #
    Dina — November 30, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

    Would it be weird to use the left over water to make oatmeal?


  23. #
    Nellie — December 4, 2013 @ 10:49 am

    This is an awesome idea! I can’t wait to try it!


  24. #
    Brenda — December 4, 2013 @ 11:06 am

    At the end of Christmas season I go to the local Lowe’s and buy several bags of the cinnamon scented pine cones. I put them in water on the stove with clove or fruit skins. It makes the house smell so good and your mouth waters.


  25. #
    Rachel — August 13, 2014 @ 1:43 pm

    Can you tell me how long this lasts? Like, do you have to throw it all out at the end of the day, or can you reuse it for a few days? I’m wondering in particular if the apple and the orange peel get icky.


    • Ginger Norvell Richter — October 24th, 2014 @ 9:11 pm

      I’ve been using this technique for awhile now…another way is to make your concoction pour into a mason jar and set it on a candle warmer…rememeber to heat the brew first to give it a kick start…I do one with lemon thyme and mint…one with orange cinnamon and cloves…one with rosemary and eucalyptus and lime…there is no limit to variety and so much better than having to spray all the time…love it…*Ginger*


  26. #
    April — November 6, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

    Pinned this on pinterest and added it to my blog for fall “crafts” I want to do! :) YUM


  27. #
    Jules — November 23, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

    Guys, if you´re smart, you can DRINK it too!!!! ;) I´m from Germany and we have, besides mull wine/hot wine punch, something called “FEUERZANGENBOWLE” which smells pretty awesome and also tastes like Christmas too :)) And besides, it´s really pretty too :) You can have blue fire :) One recipe is right here and maybe just google it and look at some pictures – you will love it :)


  28. #
    Glen — November 26, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

    Since vanilla beans are so expensive try a few drops of pure vanilla extract.


  29. #
    nina — August 1, 2015 @ 1:33 pm

    Try using apple cider smells great and taste great to


  30. #
    Jordan — September 21, 2015 @ 7:46 pm

    We love this at our home, too! As a Pastor’s wife, we often visit the home bound and I love making little bags of simmering spices for them.


  31. #
    sylvia — September 22, 2015 @ 8:04 am

    I do this every year. As it boils down and the smell gets weaker you can just add more spices or fruit or both to the mixture. I like this better than candles because it is safer than candles, especially with small children.


  32. #
    Chris — September 30, 2015 @ 9:07 pm

    Please forgive this stupid question: do you eat the stuff after, or is it just for aroma?


  33. #
    Marie — October 12, 2015 @ 2:34 pm

    I love putting a big pot of this on top of my wood stove! I also always want vanilla in it but don’t want to waste a vanilla bean, so I usually just add a glug or two of vanilla extract and it seems to do the trick!



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