How to Make Spiced Cranberry Simple Syrup for Holiday Drinks

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Give your holiday cocktails and sodas a little festive flair with this homemade cranberry simple syrup recipe! This version uses fresh cranberries, fresh orange peel, and spices for a timeless flavor.

glass bottle of cranberry simple syrup on a wooden surface.

If you’re a fan of all things cranberry, don’t miss this Cranberry Apple Crisp! It’s one of my favorite recipes on the blog and tastes amazing with a little maple whipped cream.

I love working with seasonal produce! It’s so much fun to take what’s available and find new ways to use it. This cranberry syrup recipe is such an easy project, but it can be used in so many different ways. It’s a great option to serve at your holiday party or any seasonal gathering!

What is cranberry simple syrup?

This is a traditional simple syrup infused with fresh cranberries, spices, and orange for an extra level of flavor. It has the bold red color from the cranberries and a lovely sweet, citrusy flavor with notes of warm spices.

It can be used to make homemade sodas, cranberry lemonade, or cocktails and bakers, it’d be delicious brushed onto your cake layers!

Why you’ll love this cranberry simple syrup recipe


  • QUICK & EASY – If you’ve never made your own simple syrup before, now’s the time. They’re so easy to make! This one has two extra steps, as you need to chop up the cranberries and strain the mixture. It’s very low effort for a high reward!
  • FESTIVE FLAVOR – This homemade cranberry syrup has a sweet, tart flavor from the cranberries with a little citrus note and warm spices. The flavor is more complex than just using regular cranberries, but you can easily adjust it to what you have on hand!
  • GREAT FOR ENTERTAINING – If you love to entertain during the holiday season, this is the recipe for you. The sweet cranberry flavor is perfect for adding to cocktails and mocktails!

Equipment

To make this homemade simple syrup, you just need:

  • Medium saucepan
  • Food processor or cutting board and knife
  • Wooden spoon
  • Fine mesh sieve
  • Funnel
  • Airtight container (bottle or mason jar)
ingredients to make simple syrup with fresh cranberries, spices, and orange.

Ingredients

  • Cranberries: You can use either fresh or frozen cranberries for this cranberry spice syrup. If you’re using fresh, be sure to pick out any soft or old berries.
  • Sugar: Plain simple syrup is made with an equal ratio of sugar and water. Keep it simple with regular white sugar.
  • Fresh orange zest: Either use a zester to grate off the peel or use a paring knife to remove a strip of the peel. Avoid the bitter pith as much as possible.
  • Spices: I added a cinnamon stick, some cardamom pods, and a few allspice berries for a really festive syrup.

How to Make Cranberry Simple Syrup

  1. Pulse or chop the cranberries into fine pieces.
  2. Add ingredients together in a medium saucepan.
  3. Heat over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool in the pan until it reaches room temperature (usually about an hour).
  5. Strain and store in an airtight glass bottle or jar.
  6. Refrigerate for 2-3 weeks. 

Storing

Homemade simple syrups should be stored in the fridge to keep them fresh, especially when they contain fresh fruit like this super-easy cranberry syrup. It’ll last for approximately 2-3 weeks this way.

How to Use Cranberry Simple Syrup

Use this simple cranberry syrup anytime you want to add a little seasonal flavor to your Christmas cocktails or drinks! You’ll typically add about 1-2 ounces per drink, but start with one, taste, and adjust until your drink tastes just right.

I like to serve this in a homemade soda with a little seltzer water and a squeeze of fresh orange juice. You could easily add a shot of vodka, gin, or bourbon if you’d like!

Cranberry Simple Syrup Cocktails

You can also try adding this syrup to your favorite classic cocktail, like these options:

step by step instructions for how to make cranberry simple syrup.

Tips & Variations

  • Add more spices. This mixture can take even more spices! Add 1-3 whole cloves, 1-2 star anise, a few black peppercorns, etc. At a bare minimum, I’d add a cinnamon stick.
  • Make a double batch. If you want to make a lot of syrup for an event, you can easily double or triple this recipe.
  • Bottle it up. This would be a sweet little homemade gift to share with a host at a holiday party! Add it to a glass bottle and add a handmade label.
  • Give it some heat. Feel free to simmer 1-2 coins of fresh ginger for a bright heat.
  • Add herbs. Add a sprig of fresh sage, rosemary, or mint for an extra layer of flavor. Great for cocktails!

FAQs

What’s the difference between cranberry juice and cranberry simple syrup?

Although they’re both sweetened cranberry drinks, they’re a little different. Cranberry juice is usually made by heating cranberries in water with sugar, which is similar to making syrup. However, the syrup has a much more concentrated flavor, so you can add just a little for a lot of flavor.

Can you make cranberry simple syrup with frozen cranberries?

Yep! I love freezing cranberries. They’re so easy to add to different recipes, and they’re especially perfect for making this cranberry sugar syrup.

Can you add more water to this recipe?

When you see the mixture in the pan, you’ll definitely think there isn’t enough water. The cranberries will cook down, though, and give the whole mixture a really saucy appearance. A traditional simple syrup uses equal proportions of sugar and water, which this recipe follows. You can add more water, but you won’t exactly have a simple syrup, and the cranberry flavor will end up being a bit more diluted. 

Related Recipes

vintage mason jar with cranberry simple syrup recipe next to vintage cookie cutters, cinnamon sticks, and dehydrated orange slices.

Spiced Cranberry Simple Syrup

With notes of citrus and warm spices, this spiced cranberry simple syrup recipe is perfect for holiday cocktails, mocktails, sodas, lemonades, and more. It's also incredibly easy, but it tastes like you worked on it all day! Bottle it up to give as a thoughtful hostess gift or tuck it in the fridge to sip on all season long.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, cocktails, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 oz
Calories 71 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 small food processor (or a cutting board and knife)
  • 1 Medium saucepan
  • 1 funnel
  • 1 airtight container

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 3-4 allspice berries
  • 1 orange zest

Instructions
 

  • Pulse or chop the cranberries into fine pieces.
  • Add ingredients together in a medium saucepan.
  • Heat over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool in the pan until it reaches room temperature (usually about an hour).
  • Strain and store in an airtight glass bottle or jar. Store in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 weeks.

Notes

The cranberry flavor becomes stronger the longer the mixture sits! I like to let it cool for up to 2 hours before straining.
Feel free to scale this recipe up or down. If you’re hosting a party and want a lot, make 3-4 times as much.
Get creative with the spices! You can easily add more spices, like star anise, whole cloves, black peppercorns, etc. At the bare minimum, I recommend adding a cinnamon stick if you can. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1ozCalories: 71kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 0.1gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.01gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 14mgFiber: 1gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 10IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword cranberry simple syrup recipe, cranberry syrup recipe
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