Blog, Booze Recipes, Recipe Box, Sweet Stuff Recipes

Recipe Box: Spiced Cranberry Cordial

Amber Shehan December 31, 2013

Tart cranberries are excellent for more than just Thanksgiving dinner. These sweet treats make an excellent liqueur.

cranberry cordial 2014

Ok, frugal booze hounds, here’s a tip from the Pixie: watch out for cranberries on sale at your grocery store between December and January – RIGHT NOW!

This is the prime time to find cranberries on sale – they hit the shelves around Thanksgiving but after Christmas, the prices here in Western North Carolina drop from $5 per bag down to $2. I buy them up and freeze them – they’ll keep well for many months! One day I’ll save enough to make a jug of wine…

Cranberries are tart, potent, and can be used to make many delicious things. Luckily for us, they are also full of antioxidants, vitamin C, and tannins!

I was poking around in my freezer the other day and found one long-lost bag of cranberries tucked in the back corner. I let them thaw overnight in the fridge and started them as a cordial the following morning.

Here’s how I made my spiced cranberry cordial, but feel free to play with the recipe, add things, and make it your own! If you have never made a tincture, cordial, or elixir before, this post might be helpful to you. It is easy, I promise!

Cranberry Cordial Recipe

Now, this cranberry cordial recipe is quite malleable. More than an exact recipe, I’m sharing a technique with a few simple guidelines.

The variations are endless. Add ginger root, star anise, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and any other herbs or spices that you think might blend well with the tart, astringent cranberries.

You can also play with the sugar syrup to change the end flavor of the cordial – white sugar makes a very neutral, highly sweet simple syrup, while brown sugar adds a depth of flavor from the molasses. A honey simple syrup is more cloying and rich but gives a great buffer to the tart berries.  It is worth it to make this a few times, and try experimenting! Here are a few recipes for simple syrups to get you started.

jar of cranberry cordial


  • 3 cups Cranberries (or 1 12oz bag of cranberries)
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • 1 piece Star Anise
  • 1 piece Dried Orange Peel (I dry them myself year-round for teas and recipes!)
  • 1 pint of Vodka (or Brandy, but you won’t get the lovely red color from the cranberries)
  • Other spices (Ginger, cloves, fennel…anything can go here that you wish to add!)


Wash and pick through the cranberries to ensure they are in good shape. Toss out any gross berries and put the good ones in a quart jar.

Mash the cranberries in the jar using a wooden spoon. It might take some work, but it’s a good way to get rid of stress! Add a half cup of sugar, stir it, shake it up, and let it sit for a bit. The sugar will draw the moisture out from the cranberries.

Add the cinnamon stick, anise, orange, and other spices into the jar. Cover it over with your booze of choice.

Put a cap on the jar and label it with the date and ingredients. Stash the jar in a cabinet and wait for at least a week to let the flavors meld. I prefer leaving mine for a month or more!

Strain the vodka from the jar through a muslin bag or cheesecloth, and don’t forget to mash the cranberries so you don’t miss a drop!

Make a sugar syrup to add to the strained cranberry cordial and sweeten it to your taste.

Label, bottle, and enjoy your delicious cordial throughout the year!

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Amber Shehan

Hi! I'm Amber Pixie, and this is my site. Enjoy the recipes, information, posts, and please feel free to message me if you have questions!


  1. […] meal, and they blend so well with both cinnamon and something sweet. I have a tradition of making a cranberry cordial every year, but this autumn I decided to try something a little different. Following my […]

  2. tessa on December 9, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Amber, did you do a redesign? It looks fabulous! So did the other one, of course, but this is slick! I have a question – we’re not drinkers, is there any other way to make this? Or something similar? Its look so yummy!

    • Amber Shehan on December 9, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks, Tessa! I didn’t do a full redesign, but I am always tweaking the site here and there. 🙂 There is a new header, and the menu’s a bit cleaner (I hope!).

      Regarding the cordial – I don’t know how to make something that will *last* without alcohol. The steeping time is so long that maybe a mild vinegar would work, but not water or anything else that would encourage mold/mildew growth…so maybe a cranberry shrub, instead? (

      Oh, I know! Maybe make a simple syrup out of cranberry juice/spices to store in the fridge to add to other beverages!

      Even if you do make it with alcohol, the sugar syrup that is added in dilutes it some, and you can always pour a bit here and there into fizzy water or soda to dilute it even further.

      • tessa on December 10, 2014 at 10:00 pm

        Thanks for those suggestions! I’ll go check out that link right now…it’s a religious tenet so no fudging, but I love homemade syrups.

      • Kimberlee on May 23, 2020 at 8:39 pm

        I know this is a very very late reply, but I wanted to second Amber’s notion of using vinegar to accomplish a similar result. In fact, using vinegar with sugar to preserve fruit is called a shrub (a complementary savory herb is also often added), and it was actually a common preserve in the pantries of early Americans. We like to make one with blueberries and thyme in balsamic vinegar. The shrub can be used as a mixer in cocktails, we like it with gin and soda over ice, but it is equally delicious with just soda or sparkling water over ice! For a cranberry shrub, perhaps try white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, or just play around with different vinegars until you find a combination you like!

  3. Connie Flint on December 11, 2014 at 6:09 am

    Nice pictures! How much cordial does this recipe make? XO

    • Amber Shehan on December 11, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Just around a pint…you lose some vodka to the fruit, and then replace it with sugar syrup to taste, so it evens out!

  4. kim on November 18, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Hi Amber,
    Love love your post’s and thank you for a great source of info!!????
    I was wondering if you have mad a cranberry and elderberry remedy??
    Do u think it would be going over board?? I am so very Susceptible to getting sick, last year I made your elderberry remedy wonderful stuff.

    • Amber Shehan on November 19, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Kim! I have not combined the two, myself, but I don’t see why not. Cranberry is really good for urinary tract health, and elderberry is more for lungs and colds, but I bet they’d taste good together. 🙂

      I hope your immune system keeps up with your winter, and take care! <3 🙂

  5. Marshena on November 17, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    Does the orange peel need to be dried? Just wondering if fresh would work? ?

    • Amber Pixie on November 18, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Fresh would work, I’d do a whole fat slice of an orange though, since the aromatic oils are more concentrate in the dried version. I bet it will be delicious! <3 Cheers!

  6. Wendy on December 15, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    Hi Amber, I’ve been doing a lot of homemade presents this year (since we’re all stuck at home anyway), and I used your recipe to made a spiced cranberry cordial for my household and my grandparents’ household 😀 I also just made a blueberry syrup to go with it today. The cordial has been infusing for a couple weeks, and as soon as I get some good glass bottles, I’ll be straining it and bottling it up. Thanks so much for the recipes!

    • Amber Pixie on December 30, 2020 at 10:01 pm

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy the cordial, it’s one of my longtime faves! 🙂 Cheers!

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