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Simmering Potpourri Recipes to Make Your Home Smell Amazing

Cooler months mean more time curled up inside. Simmering potpourri recipes are a great way to make a home cozy and inviting. They’re just one way to get your winter hygge on!

What Is Simmering Potpourri?

When I say potpourri I’m not talking about the strange, artificial scented bowls collecting dust in older relative’s bathrooms. Simmering potpourri is made with naturally fragrant items heated in water, juice, or tea.

You can use a pot on the stovetop, a crockpot, or the slow cooker function on your Instant Pot. I’ve even seen small crockpots and wax warmers that would work. If you’re using the stove though, be sure to not leave it unattended!

What Do You Put in Simmering Potpourri?

There are a lot of options here and you can combine ingredients to make your own scents. Spices, tea, herbs, and fruits are popular choices.

Simmering potpourri can be really economical too if you use scrap lemon peels, orange peels, and apple peels and cores. Lemon peels also make tasty lemon pepper seasoning. Just don’t use peels that are mushy, brown, or in any way starting to go bad. Stinky rotten apple smell mixed with cinnamon isn’t what we’re going for here.

Simmering Potpourri Ingredients

Apple peels, slices and/or cores
Orange peels or slices
Lemon peels or slices
Grapefruit peels or slices
Tangerine peels or slices
Lavender (dried or fresh)
Mint (dried or fresh)
Pine or fir needles
Fresh ginger
Cinnamon sticks
Star anise
Cranberries (dried or fresh)

The Health Benefits of Potpourri

Aromatherapy is a powerful tool for emotions, mental health, and physical health. We use essential oil diffusers in our home for their health and mood-boosting benefits. When simmering potpourri is heated, the volatile oils travel through the air, creating an inviting scent. These are the same volatile oils present in essential oils.

A 2009 clinical trial reported students showed less stress when they were inhaling bergamot essential oil. A 2020 animal study found essential oils can reduce anxiety, depression, and inflammation caused by oxidative stress. These are just a few of the studies highlighting the emotional benefits of volatile plant oils.

Not only does simmering potpourri create an inviting atmosphere it also has antimicrobial benefits. There are other potent antimicrobials (like garlic and onion) that don’t smell so cozy as part of a potpourri mix.

Lavender relieves stress and is antibacterial.
Rosemary improves memory, relieves stress, and is antibacterial.
Orange peel relieves stress and anxiety, uplifts the mood, and is antimicrobial.
Spices like cinnamon, clove, and ginger have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

Simmering Potpourri Recipes

These aren’t really recipes with strict measurements, more like ingredient lists and guidelines. It’s easy to mix and match to create your own custom scent, but here are some ideas to get you started.

Orange, rosemary, and mint
Apple, cinnamon, and clove
Cranberry, orange, cinnamon, and star anise
Lavender, lemon, and orange
Orange, pine needles, and pine cones

Turn It Into a Gift!

DIY skincare products are often my go-to for homemade gifts, but it’s also nice to DIY something a little different. Simmering potpourri makes a great gift – just put some in a mason jar or a cute bag. Some of the ingredients would even work in a cloth bag as a drawer freshener.

Be sure to skip the fresh fruit, fresh peels, or fresh herbs if making it as a gift. These ingredients can easily be dried though for a shelf-stable version.

Get ideas for other heartfelt DIY gifts for the holidays here.


3.54 from 13 votes

Simmering Potpourri

These tantalizing recipes help make the home smell inviting and cozy. Even better, they cleanse the air and boost the mood!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 batch
Author Katie Wells

The ingredient links below are affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.

3 cinnamon sticks6 clove buds1 orange, sliced1 apple, slices1/2 inch piece fresh ginger or 2 tsp dried1/4 cup fresh cranberries dried will also work1 quart water

Combine all of the ingredients into a pan, crockpot, or Instant Pot.

Add the water and bring everything to a boil. If using an Instant Pot use the saute setting.

Reduce the heat until the water is at a slow simmer. For the Instant Pot, use the slow cooker button.

Enjoy the scent, replacing any evaporated water as needed.

Shelf Life: This will last on the heat for up to several days, depending on which herbs and spices are used. Fresh fruit won’t last as long as dried spices. 
You can make simmering potpourri jars with dried spices and fruit that will store in a cool dark place for about a year. 
Storage: Compost the ingredients after use. 

What are your favorite scents to use in your home? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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