How to Make Stovetop Potpourri: Delicious Simmer Pot Recipe Ideas (2024)

Last Updated on December 27, 2023

If you’re looking for a natural, non-toxic way to make your home smell amazing during the holiday season, give stovetop potpourri a try! Stovetop potpourri, also known as simmer pots or simmering spices, can be used to create enjoyable aromas any time of year – not just the holidays. Yet the popular combinations of citrus, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove are absolutely perfect to enhance those fall, winter, or Christmas vibes.

Read along to learn how to make and use stovetop potpourri to add a delightful scent to your home. (It’s ridiculously easy.) I’ll share a list of simmer pot ingredient ideas to use, along with 5 deliciously-scented simmer pot recipes and combinations that we love.

Related: See 5 dry stovetop potpourri recipes for mason jar gifts here.


What is a Simmer Pot?


Simmer pots are created by combining water and natural ingredients (such as fresh or dried fruit, herbs, and spices) and heating them together on the stovetop. Like other forms of potpourri, the goal is enhance pleasant aromas in a space. Often simmering for many hours, simmer pots release scented steam that fills the air with delicious smells.

How to Make Stovetop Potpourri: Delicious Simmer Pot Recipe Ideas (1)


Why Use Stovetop Potpourri?


To make the house smell good… duh!And why would we want our homes to smell nice, especially around the holidays? So that we feel nice. Plus, simmer pots are a great non-toxic alternative to burning scented candles, especially for folks with asthma or allergies. Finally, whipping up homemade simmer pots is very inexpensive and sustainable compared to using scented candles, especially if you use ingredients you already have available in your home or garden.


Smell good, feel good


Did you know that over all other senses, our sense of smell has the strongest influence over emotions and memories? It is ingrained in our anatomy. When a smell enters our nose, it flows through the olfactory bulb in our brains. The olfactory bulb has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory: the amygdala and hippocampus. No other senses (such as sight, touch or sound) go through those centers of the brain!

Yet there are many ways to make your home smell great, right? Candles, room sprays, plug-in air fresheners, essential oils, the list goes on… In our home, we prefer to avoid synthetic chemical fragrances, including most scented aromatherapy candles.

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Are simmer pots better than scented candles?


Simmer pots are far more healthy than burning candles, especially if you stick to only natural and organic ingredients in your simmer pots. While scented candles admittedly produce a stronger, long-lasting smell than simmer pots, that’s not all they’re emitting! Traditional paraffin (petroleum-based) candles release toxic substances when burned – including VOCs, benzene, and other carcinogens.

Even candles made with natural waxes (such as coconut or soy wax) still pose a health risk, contributing to indoor air pollution by emitting smoke, phthalates, and artificial fragrance. In addition to the “yuck, no thank you” factor, scented candles give me a gnarly headache! We like to burn natural unscented beeswax candles instead, which give off a very mild honey-like aroma.


How to Make & Use Simmer Pots


Now on to the fun part! When it comes to creating stovetop potpourri, the options are endless. There are zero rules, so feel free to get creative with the materials, spices, and combinations you put together. Most people simply use what they already have available at home. Or, you could pick up a few special ingredients to spice things up!See ingredient ideas and simmer pot recipes below.

  • Once you have your chosen simmer pot ingredients, combine them in a pot of water. About half full is good.
  • Start with a small handful of each chunky ingredient such as lemons, apples, or oranges, and a few dashes of spices. Once the mixture begins to heat up, you can always adjust and add more if you find the aroma not as strong as you’d like.
  • On the stovetop, turn up the heat to bring everything to a light boil, reduce to a simmer, and then sit back and enjoy the smell that will soon infuse in your home!
  • Keep an eye on your simmer pot, and perhaps set a timer if you’re forgetful. You don’t want all of the water to evaporate and let the pan run dry.
  • Top off with more water as needed to keep your stovetop potpourri going for many hours. I often use the same simmer pot and ingredients off and on for several days!
  • Alternatively, you could throw everything together in a slow cooker, crock pot, or your trusty Instant Pot and let it simmer with the lid off.
How to Make Stovetop Potpourri: Delicious Simmer Pot Recipe Ideas (4)


Simmer Pot Ingredients and Ideas

  • Orange slices, fresh or dried
  • Lemon slices
  • Orange, lemon, lime or any other citrus peels, zest – or even lemon powder. See how we re-purpose lemon peels into homemade lemon powder here.
  • Fresh or dried rosemary, mint, thyme, oregano, or other aromatic herbs
  • Fresh cranberries
  • Apple slices, halves, or chunks
  • Bay leaves
  • Sprigs of pine or cedar, or fresh sappy pine cones
  • Cinnamon sticks, or ground cinnamon powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Fresh ginger, or ginger powder
  • Cloves, whole or ground
  • Cardamom pods
  • Star Anise
  • Fresh Peppermint
  • Lavender buds
  • Chamomile flowers
  • Loose-leaf chai tea
  • Maple syrup
  • Pumpkin Spice Seasoning
  • Vanilla beans, or vanilla extract. If you’re going to get fancy and use whole vanilla beans, scoop out the inside to use for baking and only simmer the outer pod/skin. There is no sense in wasting all the good stuff, since the skin alone provides a rich sweet aroma!
  • A couple drops of essential oils. We like these certified organic essential oils.
How to Make Stovetop Potpourri: Delicious Simmer Pot Recipe Ideas (5)


Our Favorite Simmer Pot Recipe Combinations

  1. Fresh orange slices, ginger, star anise, clove, cinnamon, and vanilla. I hate to play favorites, but we’ll just say this one is listed at the top for a reason!
  2. Apples, ginger, lemon peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove
  3. Rosemary, lemon peel or slices, sprigs of fresh cedar or pine, star anise, and bay leaves
  4. Apples, pumpkin spice seasoning, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks
  5. Fresh lavender buds, dried chamomile, and a dash of vanilla extract. This simmer pot recipe is great for any season!


*Any simplified version of these combos is wonderful as well – such as simply rosemary and lemon, or orange and cloves.

How to Make Stovetop Potpourri: Delicious Simmer Pot Recipe Ideas (6)
How to Make Stovetop Potpourri: Delicious Simmer Pot Recipe Ideas (7)


Can you smell it through your screen?


No, probably not… I guess that means you better get busy and go make a simmer pot of your own! If you’re into green living and maintaining a toxin-free home, you will probably also like this homemade natural vinegar and citrus household cleaning spray recipe.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and even more – enjoy your soon-to-be amazing-smelling home. If you come up with some unique stovetop potpourri combinations, be sure to report back and share your secrets with all of us! Please feel free to ask questions, and spread the love by sharing this post.


You may also like these related posts:

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  • 9 Sustainable Ways to Use or Dispose Of Pumpkins After Halloween
  • How to Make a Fall Beeswax Leaf Garland
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  • DIY Grapevine Wreath (or Other Vines) + Wreath Decorating Ideas
  • How to Make Pressed Flower Pumpkins (Decorate Botanical Leaf Pumpkins)

How to Make Stovetop Potpourri: Delicious Simmer Pot Recipe Ideas (8)

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Stovetop Potpourri: Simmer Pot Recipe Ideas

Learn how to use beautiful and natural ingredients like citrus, herbs and spices to create homemade stovetop potpourri. It will make your house smell amazing, and lift your mood! Get inspired with dozens of ingredient options, plus 5 of our favorite simmer pot recipe combinations.

Prep Time5 minutes mins

Equipment

  • Sauce pan or pot for the stove, OR

  • Crock pot or Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • Use any of the following ingredients to create whatever combinations sound appealing to you, or use what you have available on hand!

Fruit Ideas

  • Any citrus including orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit – slices, rinds, zest, or citrus powder
  • Apples – halves, slices, or diced
  • Fresh cranberries

Fresh Herbs

  • Rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, peppermint, or other aromatic herbs

Spices

  • Cinnamon sticks or powder
  • Ginger, fresh or powder
  • Cloves, whole or ground
  • Cardamom pods
  • Nutmeg
  • Star anise
  • Pumpkin spice seasoning

Other Plant Material

  • Bay leaves
  • Sprigs of pine or cedar
  • Lavender blooms
  • Fresh sappy pinecones
  • Rose petals

Other Ingredient Ideas

  • Essential oils (a couple of drops)
  • Maple Syrup
  • Vanilla Extract (or the skin of used whole bean pods)
  • Loose-leaf chai tea

Instructions

  • Combine your ingredients of choice on a pot of water on the stove, or in a crock pot or Instant Pot with the lid off.

  • Start with a small handful of each chunky ingredient such as orange slices, sprigs of rosemary, or lemon peels – plus a little splash of any liquid, and few dashes of spices. Once the mixture begins to heat up, you can always adjust and add more if you find the aroma not as strong as you’d like. There are no rules here!

  • Turn the heat up to bring everything to a light boil,reduce to a simmer, and enjoy the smell that will soon infuse in your home.

  • Keep an eye on your pot, and perhaps set a timer if you’re forgetful! You don’t want all of the water to evaporate and let the pan run dry.

  • Top off with more water as needed to enjoy your simmering spices for many hours.

Notes

Our Favorite Simmering Spice Recipe Combinations

  1. Fresh orange slices, ginger, star anise, clove, cinnamon, and vanilla. I hate to play favorites, but we’ll just say this one is listed at the top for a reason!
  2. Apples, ginger, lemon peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove
  3. Rosemary, lemon peel or slices, sprigs of fresh cedar or pine, star anise, and bay leaves
  4. Apples, pumpkin spice seasoning, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks
  5. Fresh lavender buds and a dash of vanilla extract

*Any simplified version of these combos is wonderful as well – such as rosemary and lemon, or orange and cloves.

How to Make Stovetop Potpourri: Delicious Simmer Pot Recipe Ideas (9)
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