Brighten holiday spirits with Cranberry Simple Syrup. Made with fresh cranberries, this syrup tastes wonderful mixed into all kinds of holiday drinks or drizzled over desserts.
Cranberry Simple Syrup recipe
Whenever I see fresh cranberries at the grocery store, I know the holiday season is right around the corner.
When cranberries are in season, it’s an excuse to make all the cranberry drinks. A great way to do that is to make cranberry simple syrup that you can mix into your favorite recipes.
Cranberry syrup is my new favorite way to bring festive flavor to drinks and desserts this time of year.
Why you’ll love this recipe
This syrup is full of cranberry flavor and I think your taste buds are going to be so happy when you taste it. Here are some reasons to love it:
- It’s an easy recipe that only requires three ingredients.
- Though you can buy cranberry syrup, making it yourself means you know exactly what’s in it. No corn syrup here!
- It’s a festive addition to holiday cocktails to serve at Christmas and Thanksgiving, and all winter long.
What is simple syrup?
Simple syrup is an easy-to-make liquid sweetener that is used in all kinds of drinks and desserts.
Homemade simple syrup is super easy to make with just sugar and water. To make a flavored syrup, it’s infused with fruit, herbs and spices. (In this case, we’re using cranberries!)
Sweetening cocktails, tea and coffee drinks are the most common uses for simple syrup, but it can also be drizzled over desserts like vanilla ice cream or poured over breakfast foods like French toast (in lieu of maple syrup).
See the section below called “Uses for cranberry simple syrup” to see some other ways to use this festive syrup.
Homemade cranberry syrup comes together with just three simple ingredients. Here’s what to grab at the grocery store:
Cranberries are the key ingredient in this recipe. Though you can use frozen cranberries in this recipe, fresh fruit has a stronger flavor, which is why I prefer them to using frozen cranberries or cranberry juice. (I also like having leftover cranberries for garnishes on my drinks, too!)
However, it’s totally fine to use frozen cranberries instead. It really does not matter since the cranberries are cooked.
If you only have access to cranberry juice, simply do this:
- Warm ½ cup cranberry juice and ½ cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Give it a good stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Let cool completely to room temperature. Store in a mason jar or other airtight, food-safe container.
While tart cranberries are the star of this recipe, the type of water you use will make a difference.
If your tap water is safe to
When mixed with berries and spices that can go bad, the purer water will help to make your syrup last longer in the fridge.
You can make cranberry sugar syrup with either brown sugar or white sugar. Cane sugar will also work.
Brown sugar will have more of a butterscotch undertone and white sugar will have more caramel and molasses notes.
Which sugar you use does affect the color. I used white sugar in this recipe to give it a lighter color, but brown sugar syrup has a much darker color.
How to make Cranberry Simple Syrup
Place cranberries and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a low boil.
Lower heat to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t let the cranberries pop. The mixture will turn red.
With a fine-mesh sieve, strain mixture into a measuring cup. Discard the solids.
Pour the liquid back into the saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar until dissolved, but don’t boil. Remove from heat.
Store your delicious cranberry syrup in an airtight container such as a bottle or mason jar.
How to thin Cranberry Syrup
Cranberries naturally contain pectin, which is a substance that causes fruit to thicken up, à la jams and jellies.
The trick is not letting the cranberries get so hot that they pop. When they pop, the skins are broken which is what releases the pectin.
Once you mix it with sugar, you pretty much have a super thick syrup.
If you do wind up with a thick cranberry syrup, you have a couple of options. You can either warm it slightly before mixing with it, but if it is going to meet ice… it will likely seize up and become jam-like again.
The other, better option is to add some more hot water to the syrup before you use it. This is the same method we use for honey syrup to make honey runnier.
Variations and substitutions
Cinnamon Cranberry Syrup: Add a cinnamon stick to the cranberries while they cook with water to infuse a cinnamon flavor.
Spiced Cranberry Syrup: Add a few allspice berries, whole cloves and chopped ginger into the cranberries while they cook.
Cranberry Orange Syrup: Add two 1-inch pieces of orange zest into the cranberry-water mixture while it cooks to infuse some citrus flavor. Lemon zest or lime zest would be nice, too!
Cranberry Apple Syrup: Use apple cider instead of water to make a flavorful syrup with tons of fall flavor.
Uses for cranberry syrup
Stir it into iced tea for an easy holiday libation.
Add it to vodka sodas for a lighter cocktail.
Use it to make a festive cranberry margarita.
Add it to a glass of champagne to make a cranberry champagne cocktail.
Mix it with club soda to make an Italian soda, which is a super easy mocktail.
More simple syrup recipes
- Spiced Apple Simple Syrup
- Pumpkin Spice Syrup
- Vanilla Simple Syrup
- Cinnamon Simple Syrup
- Caramel Simple Syrup
- 1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- Place cranberries and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a low boil.
- Lower heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the cranberries begin to pop, remove from heat. The mixture will become bright red.
- With a fine-mesh strainer, strain the liquid into a measuring cup. Discard the solids.
- Pour the liquid back into the saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar until dissolved, but don’t boil. Remove from heat.
- Store in an airtight, food-safe container such as a bottle or mason jar.
If your syrup is too thick
Cranberries naturally contain lots of pectin, which is a substance that causes fruit to thicken up, à la jams and jellies.
The trick is not letting the cranberries get so hot that they pop. When they pop, the skins are broken which is what releases the pectin. Once you mix it with sugar, you pretty much have a super thick syrup.
If you do wind up with a thick cranberry syrup, you have a couple of options. You can either warm it slightly before mixing with it, but if it is going to meet ice it will likely seize up and become jam-like again. The other, better option is to add some more hot water to the syrup before you use it. This is the same method we use for honey syrup to make honey runnier.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 ounce
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 73Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g