Simmer Pots

Fill your home with the scent of spring.
a woman smelling essential oils and citrus peels in her kitchen

As you get ready to open your windows for some much-needed air after the dreary days of winter, why not boost the fresh scents of the season with simmer pots?

If you haven’t heard of them, you’re in for a pleasing olfactory experience.

What are Simmer Pots?

Simmer pots, also known as stovetop potpourri, freshen the air naturally. Fragrant ingredients like fresh fruits and herbs are simmered in water over the stovetop, infusing a space with gentle aromas.

Simmer pots also act as a natural humidifier, as they bubble away on the stove and release steam into the air.

Why Use a Simmer Pot?

While candles, room sprays, plug-in fragrances, and incense are typical favorites for adding scent to the home, many of these options contain toxic and synthetic fragrances and chemicals that can damage your health and contribute to poor indoor air quality. 

Simmer pots are a natural way to add fragrance to a room. They’re sustainable, and cut down on the single-use plastic packaging typically found with air fresheners and room sprays.

The natural ingredients used in a simmer pot can even be composted when you’re finished.

Making a Simmer Pot

To start simmering, look to the fresh fruits and herbs and other ingredients you may have on hand.

Some options to try include:

  • citrus peels
    • lemon
    • lime
    • orange
    • grapefruit
  • sprigs of fresh mint, thyme, or basil
  • pure baking extracts
    • vanilla
    • almond
    • peppermint

Fresh fruit peels create the same aroma as whole slices when simmered, so it doesn’t matter which you use.

Reduce food waste by saving apple peels, fruit cores, and citrus rinds in resealable bags. Store them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them in a simmer pot.

Using Your Simmer Pot

Customize your simmer pot to the season by experimenting with scents that remind you of spring. Who knows? You may come up with your own signature blend to welcome family and friends to your home.

At the very least, simmering natural fragrances can help cover up funky smells—especially those in the kitchen.

To capture the season, consider the scents of:

  • lemon
  • lime
  • grapefruit
  • ginger
  • rosemary
  • vanilla
  • rose
  • mint

When spring blooms become available outside, add unsprayed varieties to a simmer pot.

As the season progresses, look for fresh lavender or rose petals to infuse the fragrance of a lush garden indoors.

How to Fill a Simmer Pot

  1. Fill a stovetop pot with water until it’s three-quarters full. 
  2. Bring the water to a boil. 
  3. Add desired ingredients (see recipe ideas below). 
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer. 
  5. Add more water as needed, making sure the water level stays at least half full.

Using a Slow Cooker

A slow cooker can also be used to simmer fragrant ingredients.

  1. Fill a slow cooker with water until it’s about three-quarters full. Add desired ingredients, cover the cooker with its lid, and turn to High.
  2. When the cooker starts to steam, turn it down to Low. Remove the lid.
  3. Check the slow cooker every 30 minutes to make sure the water level doesn’t get lower than half full. Add more water as needed.

Keep in mind that most simmer pot sessions last about two hours.

Reusing Ingredients

You can use simmer pot ingredients (also known as aromatics) more than once. Drain the water from the pot with a strainer.

Store the aromatics in the refrigerator for up to three days. When ready to use again, add fresh water to a pot and simmer away.

Simmer Pot Recipes for Spring

Here are some recipes that fit the season. They’re easy and inexpensive to make, and they help add pleasing aromas and comfort to the room you’re in.

  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 6 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

  • 1 lemon, sliced 
  • 3 sprigs fresh or dried lavender
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 grapefruit, sliced
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 2 tablespoons sliced fresh ginger
  • 6 sprigs fresh mint

  • 3 lime slices
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • Handful of mint

Using Essential Oils

Some people add drops of essential oils to their simmer pot recipes. Essential oils add concentrated aromas as well as therapeutic benefits.

For the fresh, floral scents reminiscent of springtime, consider essential oils of:

  • lemon
  • lime
  • orange
  • lavender
  • basil
  • eucalyptus
  • bergamot
  • jasmine
  • ylang-ylang

The choice is yours. Just remember that essential oils are strong, so use them sparingly.

Here’s a recipe featuring essential oils:

  • 12 cup dried lavender or 6 drops lavender essential oil
  • A few drops eucalyptus essential oil
Click to See Our Sources

“4 simmer pot recipes that’ll make your home smell heavenly” by Katy Spratte Joyce,, 12/5/23

“10 natural simmer pot recipes for a fresh smelling home,” by Barbi Gardiner,, 11/1/23

“How to make a simmer pot to fill your home with seasonal scents” by Patricia Shannon, Better Homes & Gardens,, 11/8/23



Lisa Fabian

Contributing Editor

Lisa Fabian is an award-winning freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience in the publishing industry. She's enjoyed covering topics as diverse as arts and crafts, boating, food, and health and wellness.