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DIY Stovetop Potpourri: It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas

It’s amazing how scents whisk you away to another world: a memory or place recognizable by how it smells. Even during those days that I haven’t had my oven working overtime, it’s nice to fill my house with the welcoming aromas of the holidays, so I made up a few jars of stovetop potpourri to have on hand for the occasion.

stovetop potpourri

Stovetop potpouri, also known as simmering spices, are easy to make by combining any fragrant botanicals, spices, and herbs and adding them to boiling water. This releases an all-natural fragrant steam that scents the air in your home.

You can simmer them on the stovetop or even use a crockpot, and the possible scent combinations are endless. You could make comforting, cozy scents to bring cheer to a cold, dreary day, decongestants to help with a cold or flu, or festive fragrances that will have your house smelling like the holidays in a jiffy.

This post will cover…

stovetop potpourri ingredients in glass bowls
If you’re making a bunch of stovetop potpourri, measure out your ingredients beforehand.

What Scents Smell Like Christmas?

Christmas has a smell, perhaps like hot apple cider mixed with pine trees, oranges, and clove. At least, that is what it smells like for me.

You can use fresh or dried ingredients to make this Christmas simmer pot. If you’re making them to use for later or as a gift, only include dried ingredients. Fresh ingredients are good to use right away.

Here are some ingredient ideas for Christmas potpourri that are probably already in your spice rack, refrigerator, or pantry:

ingredients for Christmas simmer pot
Cinnamon sticks and star anise are great for their visual impact.

How to Make Stovetop Potpourri

To make the stovetop potpourri, mix all of your chosen ingredients together. Since this is all about scent and not taste, measurements don’t have to be exact. I usually toss in the ingredients as I see fit.

But here’s an overall guideline you can use to help you determine how much to add depending on the ingredient:

  • 1-2 sprigs for fresh herb or evergreen clippings like mint, rosemary, cedar, or pine.
  • 2 cinnamon sticks or vanilla beans
  • 1 tsp extracts (i.e. Vanilla)
  • 2 dried fruit slices (i.e. apple, orange, lemon)
  • 1 tbsp of spices, whole or ground

When using whole vs. ground spices, you’ll find that ground spices release their scent faster. However, they do collect at the bottom of the pot, so you do need to stir them now and then to prevent burning. Otherwise, whole spices will release their scent, but it will just take longer.

When you’re ready to use your stovetop potpourri, add the mixture into a pot of boiling water. Simmer on low heat and enjoy the scent! You can leave the mixture simmering all day long if you add more water now and then as it evaporates.

6 Stovetop Potpourri Recipes

You can stir up endless combinations of stovetop potpourri. Here are some of my tried-and-true Christmas stovetop potpourri recipes.

It’s Like Snowflakes Melting on Your Nose

This blend is cool, crisp, and fresh, like a woodland stroll in a winter wonderland. This is great for those who enjoy the crisp smell of fresh Christmas trees.

Sleepy Time

These soothing scents will help you relax and get ready for bed. Make a pot of this Christmas potpourri while you and your guests are winding down for the night.

Christmas potpourri jars
Add instructions to your stovetop potpourri gifts so the receiver knows how to use them.

Pumpkin Spice

Make the whole house smell like yummy pumpkin spice with this blend. Fair warning: guests will think you have a pumpkin pie baking in the oven!

Apple Chai

Hot apple cider and Chai tea both have the coziest, most comforting scents. This blend combines the two spices to honour the cozy winter drinks.

Cold Virus Relief

Perfect for when you’re feeling stuffy and congested. Simmer this spice blend on the stove and pop a eucalyptus shower steamer in your morning shower. You’ll be feeling better in no time!

Holiday stove-top potpourri
You can use stovetop potpourri all throughout the winter season.

It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas Potpourri

Last but not least, this is my go-to blend to put on the stove for Christmas day before everyone comes over. This comforting blend of spices and savoury herbs smells just like Christmas!

Christmas potpourri that smell like the holidays
Combine fresh and dried ingredients if you plan on using a batch right away.

Stovetop Potpourri as a Homemade Gift

A package of ingredients for a Christmas simmer pot is one of my favourite gifts to give out during the holiday season, especially for hostesses. You can customize them based on the person and add some gift wrap to really personalize it.

If you’re gifting them, don’t include any fresh ingredients. Fresh ingredients are only meant for use right away.

For my stovetop potpourri packages, I put mine in 250 ml Mason jars. On top of the jars, I designed some labels and tags on Evermine. You can make your own, too, customizing the canning labels and favour tags.

I also have some free printable labels you can download and print yourself. They come in lots of colours and allow you to write down the names of your own stovetop potpourri blends.

To top it off, I tie around some twine. You can then wrap it or add a gift tag. I have some great recycled gift wrappings ideas you can try out.  

Christmas simmer pot ingredients in Mason jar. Tag reads: Add to boiling water, reduce heat, simmer all day, top up as needed.
The packaging is what makes the gift so cute!

Frequently Asked Questions About Stovetop Potpourri

Can You Use Potpourri in a Slow Cooker?

Yes! You can make this Christmas potpourri on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. Add boiling water and let the potpourri simmer on low heat. The smell will quickly waft through the house and turn it into a festive wonderland.

Add water as needed when you notice the levels getting low. And never leave it plugged in and unattended.

How Long Does Christmas Potpourri Last in a Jar?

In the jar, you’ll need to use dried ingredients rather than fresh ones. When done this way, your stovetop potpourri will last as long as your dried spices and herbs are good for. Generally, ground spices last 1-2 years and dried herbs last up to 3. The date of your oldest spice in the blend is how long it will be good for.

But because you won’t be consuming the spices, it’s also okay to use old spices. The younger the spices, however, the more fragrant it will be.

Once boiled, your potpourri can last 3-4 days as long as you keep topping up the water. Never leave it unattended!

Christmas stovetop potpourri
Make a couple of different variations of stovetop potpourri to try out. Find your favourite scent!

More Ways to Make it Smell Like Christmas


  1. Thank you so very much – this is the perfect gift for people at work – I’m 70 and started working at the YMCA 2 months ago. You are one amazing young woman. Have a joy filled and blessed Christmas.

  2. I love your simmering spices for gifts. I want to use them for thank you gifts for people who volunteer in the Book Alcove at my church.
    Do you have the wonderful labels for us to download?
    Thank you, Rhonda


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