Fresh Cranberry Syrup (for drinks!)

By Amanda Paa – Updated November 3, 2023
5 from 4 votes
This vibrant cranberry simple syrup is great for mixing into cocktails and mocktails! It's sweet and tart, with lovely cranberry flavor, brightened with fresh orange peel. All real ingredients used, easy to make in 30 minutes. I love to stir cranberry syrup into sparkling water and Italian sodas, as well as the base for making margaritas, mimosas, and gin & tonics.
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cranberry syrup in a clea bottle with fresh cranberries

I make several batches of Rhubarb Syrup in Spring, and it makes the best cocktails and additions to sparkling water. I wanted to create something similar for the holidays, so I worked on this fresh, vibrant Cranberry Simple Syrup! It’s very easy to make and ready in 30 minutes.

Cranberries are very tart on their own (just like rhubarb), so they make a great simple syrup because the sugar balances the sour, giving it a well-balanced, pronounced cranberry flavor.

When developing this recipe, I found the ratio of cranberries to sugar to be very important. An equal ratio syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water, 1 part cranberries) did not result in a strong enough cranberry flavor. It was too faint to be recognized. Increasing the cranberries to 2 parts was the winner, as well as a bit of fresh orange juice for acidity to bring out the cranberry flavor.

Orange and cranberry are the BEST partners (they also work well together in homemade cranberry sauce); making for a fruity, tart and sweet, and a wonderful base for cocktails and mocktails.

Delicious ways to use homemade cranberry syrup:

  1. Mix with seltzer water or club soda for a refreshing mid-day drink
  2. Replace cranberry juice with this syrup for a vibrant & fresh tasting Cosmopolitan cocktail
  3. Replace plain simple syrup with this cranberry version to make old fashioned cocktails
  4. Use it in mimosas for weekend brunch. Instead of orange juice, add 2 ounces of cranberry syrup to each glass, then top with champagne/prosecco/cava
  5. Love French 75’s? Swap cranberry soda for the strawberry puree in this recipe.
  6. Use it to make Italian sodas for the kids or girls night in

Ingredients for Cranberry Simple Syrup

  • fresh cranberries (frozen will work)
  • granulated sugar
  • water
  • orange (you’ll use the peel and a small amount of juice)

How to Make Fresh Cranberry Syrup

  • Add cranberries to a sauce pot with water, sugar, salt, orange peel, and salt.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cranberries will start to pop and break open.
  • Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Then strain syrup into bowl, pressing down lightly onto cranberry mixture to get juices out. Pour 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice through strainer into syrup.
  • Pour into a beverage bottle for storage. I like to use glass bottles that have a swing top, or I reuse glass liquor bottles.

To note:

Cranberries are naturally high in pectin, which is what makes jams and jellies set, so you won’t simmer the mixture for a long time OR at a hard boil. If you did so, the syrup would be thicken too much while refrigerating.

fresh cranberry syrup straining over glass bowl
making cranberry syrup with a strainer

Can you freeze cranberry syrup?

Yes! Cranberry syrup can be easily frozen to preserve it for 6 months. Simply pour the finished syrup into a glass storage bottle or jar, leaving about 2 inches from the top to leave room for expansion when it freezes and thaws. To use, simply remove bottle from freezer and let thaw on the counter.

More Cranberry Recipes

cranberry syrup in clear bottle with berries to the left of the bottle
fresh cranberry syrup in a bottle
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cranberry simple syrup in a glass bottle

Easy Cranberry Syrup (for drinks!)

This vibrant cranberry simple syrup is great for mixing into cocktails and mocktails! It's sweet and tart, with lovely cranberry flavor, brightened with fresh orange peel. Just 3 ingredients and so easy to make. I love to stir it into sparkling water or as a base for cocktails like margaritas and Cosmopolitans!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time :5 minutes
Cook Time :5 minutes
Resting Time :15 minutes
Yield: 1 cup
Author: Amanda Paa

SCALE:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 orange (you'll use some of the peel and juice)
  • pinch of salt

Instructions 

  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel 2, 2-inch pieces of orange peel. Add cranberries to a sauce pot with water, cinnamon, sugar, salt, orange peels, and salt.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a low simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture will bubble and foam, cranberries will start to pop and break open. (Do not cook longer or too much pectin will release and the syrup will be more like jelly.)
  • Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Then strain syrup into bowl, pressing down lightly onto cranberry mixture to get juices out.* From your orange, squeeze 3 tablespoons of juice and pour through strainer and press down lightly again.
  • Pour into a beverage bottle for storage in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. I like to use glass bottles that have a swing top, or I reuse glass liquor bottles. Shake before using, as it can thicken in the fridge. If so, not to worry, shaking will return it to syrup.

Notes

*The cranberry mixture that remains in the strainer can be used as a topping for yogurt or oatmeal; it’s absolutely delicious!
*I get fresh organic cranberries from Ruesch Century Farm, local to Wisconsin, but they ship! You can also find their berries in many local Mpls and WI coops. 

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November 2, 2023

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4 comments

  1. Stacee

    5 stars
    Sooo good!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay, thanks for making the recipe!

  2. Kaitlyn

    5 stars
    So good!

  3. Suzanne Sears

    5 stars
    Like all of Amanda’s recipes this was easy to make and delicious. So far I’ve added this to sparkling water, gin and tonic and I also added a cheeky splash to Prosecco to make a champagne cocktail.