Homemade Cranberry Liqueur with Orange Zest is easy to make, delicious to drink and a beautiful gift to share over the holidays!
This might be one of my favorite things to make for the holidays but because I put it on my blog several years ago, it has for the most part languished in the nether world of being there but no one knowing it.
As I finished this years batch of Homemade Cranberry Liqueur with Orange Zest along with the Coffee Liqueur (Faux Kahlua!) I bottled last week I decided this was one of those ‘have tos.’
Meaning I have to take some new photos, I have to re-post this article and then most importantly? You have to make it!
I’ve mentioned I make my Christmas gifts and each year there is a greater challenge to make something more unique than the last.
When I made this several years ago it was one of my first forays into the making of a liqueur. As it turns out they are pretty easy.
Some inexpensive vodka, sugar, and your choice of flavors and you’ve got your own brew. How cool is that?
This favorite seasonal liqueur is simply cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, sugar and vodka.
Simple ingredients but added together and given a couple of weeks to age and you’ll have something amazing to share…or squirrel away if you must!
In the past couple of years I’ve started making Homemade Cranberry Liqueur in time for Thanksgiving; it’s really perfect for the entire holiday season so you need a bit of a head start since it has to age for a couple of weeks.
These cranberries were frozen from last year; I take NO chances on being able to find them in time! I’ll store a bottle in the freezer and a small sip is the perfect after dinner drink.
I save the cranberry fruit after the liqueur has been bottled and those little liquored up pieces of fruit are fantastic on top of some vanilla ice cream or pound cake with a drizzle of the liqueur.
Still, the star attraction for me is this Sparkling Cranberry Cocktail. It’s seasonal, so simple and elegant and yet from the making of the liqueur to the final cocktail, it is so easy no one would imagine you only labored for a few minutes. Perfect right?
With a touch or orange in the mix it’s such a great flavor which is sure a nice bonus when first impressions are all about how beautiful it is; there is nothing homemade looking about this Homemade Cranberry Liqueur.
Though I’ve labeled the cocktail as a champagne one, the truth is I most often use either Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava.
A friend of mine in Australia that I met on Twitter it seems like a million years ago wanted to make this recipe but as it turns out, no fresh cranberries to be found.
We take them so for granted in the US; might it be because the majority of the world’s production is in Canada and the United States? Most of the world only has them available as a frozen product.
As it turned out, the year that Amanda wanted to try this recipe, she couldn’t even find frozen berries so went on a hunt for some dried one.
Not Craisins, either, but actually dried cranberries. She was successful and made a version that looks beautiful and tasted great…in case you are also located somewhere that is not overflowing with cases of fresh cranberries everywhere we turn this time of year!
For a version using dried cranberries, please visit Amanda’s blog, Lambs Ear and Honey…tell her Barb sent you. 🙂 And cheers Amanda!
Making liqueurs is easy and delicious; here’s a few more I’ve tried with great success:
PIN IT! ‘Homemade Cranberry Liqueur with Orange Zest’
Homemade Cranberry Liqueur
For the Cranberry Liqueur
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 3 Tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
- 2 cups vodka Use decent vodka but top shelf not required
For the Champagne Cocktail
- 1 & 1/2 oz Cranberry Liqueur chilled
- 4 oz Champagne Prosecco or Cava, chilled
- Combine sugar and water in heavy saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer sugar syrup for three minutes, making sure all of the sugar has dissolved in the water.
- Add cranberries, orange juice and orange rind.
- Remove syrup mixture from heat and cool slightly.
- Add mixture to Cuisinart and chop just slightly to open up berries; cool completely.
- Add vodka and mix thoroughly.
- Pour into container; glass or plastic. Cover and store in a dark, cool location for 3 weeks. (I put mine in the garage).
- Stir ingredients every couple of days.
- Once the mixture is ready, strain through fine metal sieve lined with cheesecloth (I like butter muslin; it's much finer and is sure to catch every seed); saving the berries; they are great on french toast, pancakes, or ice cream.
- Pour liqueur into glass containers; serve chilled in liqueur or shot glasses or use to make the Cranberry Champagne Cocktail.
- Time does not include the 3 weeks for 'brewing.'
To Make the Cocktail
- Pour 1/2 to 1 ounce of the cranberry liqueur into chilled champagne glasses; top with your choice of chilled sparkling wine.
- I found the bottles I used the first year I did this at The Container Store; I've since seen them at World Market too but all retail bottles get pricey if making this for gifts.
- Now I buy bottles from Specialty Bottle; they have multiple styles and sizes that are inexpensive for gift giving.
- Butter Muslin is used in cheese-making and is a much finer weave than regular cheesecloth. Once you strain it you can wash it and use again. I usually strain twice to insure I get rid of any sediment!
Way to sweet for me. I should have thought it through before using 2 cups of sugar. I will try again using less, maybe 1/3 cup.
Hi Barb, love your web site and the great many recipes you’ve provided us. I made your cranberry liqueur this past holiday season to give as Christmas gifts and enjoy in my own home. I’ve found many ways to use the liqueur in various drinks and all have been fantastic. I found some really cool inexpensive decorative bottles at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx stores and ended up with a great looking, and cost effective, gift for neighbors and friends. I made two batches of the liqueur and had a large amount of leftover cranberries. I just couldn’t stand the thought of throwing out these perfectly good chopped berries so I used them in my favorite cranberry-orange bread and it was AWESOME. Plus it provided an additional food gift to give out with the liqueur. Thanks for making our lives more delicious!
I love hearing this Geoff…after all, the love I put into sharing isn’t so these recipes can just languish; I want people to make and enjoy them too!
I still have some of the chopped cranberries; I put them in the freezer because I didn’t want them to go bad (which I doubt they would have considering they are half vodka at this point!). I need to follow your lead this time and do the same and use them in a bread…umm, that sounds GOOD!
Thanks so much for your kind comment; much appreciated.
I love your site — so classy! 🙂
I would like to try this out this Christmas season! When you say, “Add mixture to Cuisinart and chop just slightly to open up berries; cool completely”, do you mean put them in a blender or food processor and chop them coarsely? I apologize for this query as I this will be my first time to make a liqueur.
Thanks in a advance!
Thanks so much Atasha; your kind comment means the world to me!
And yes, that’s exactly what I mean. You don’t want mush, but want them broken up; coarsely chopped is perfect. So perfect I think I’ll just change it to those words! I hope you enjoy it; it’s delicious and so beautiful; sort of perfect right?
Many thanks for your prompt reply, Barb 🙂 Now I can make this gorgeous liqueur in time for Christmas!
Happy Thanksgiving! I also wish you advance Merry Christmas — may it be as awesome as you are!
Oh how sweet you are…thanks so much!
Mine is done and I want to drink some now…but I know I best wait. Which is hard. 🙂
This is fantastic – I am absolutely going to make this!!
That’s funny, I just did a post last week about cocktail infusions – this one is definitely more of a cordial and I can just imagine it would be lovely to put a slurp of this into a glass of prosecco!
It is fantastic with Prosecco! I haven’t done much else with it because that combination is so perfect.
This looks gorgeous! And the champagne cocktail looks very festive (not to mention tasty!). I’ve never made my own liqueurs or even infused vodkas — really need to get into it. Anyway, thanks for this.
what is the yield (in cc’s or ounces) from one recipe? I want to make a total of 1 gallon to give as gifts. It would really help if I knew from the start how much of each ingredient I would need.
Thank you so much!
I don’t have an exact measure Marilyn but I just added the quantities in the recipe and figure that the end output would be a bit more than a quart per recipe. Since a gallon has four quarts I would estimate you would have to quadruple the ingredients to make sure you had a gallon.
I was smitten with this recipe as soon as I saw it! Made a batch this morning and can’t wait to try it next month! Don’t know if I’ll be generous enough to give it away as gifts! Haha! Thank you, Barb!
You have inspired me to try this…and, possibly, others as well. I love that you give bottles of liqueur at the holidays. That’s a great idea.
I am so proud of how far you have come with your pictures. The original was lovely but the current ones are gorgeous!
We always make special product in special holidays 🙂 I love your idea! I’ll definitely try your style
Making this, even as I type. specialtybottles.com carries a very reasonable range of bottles for bottling these special gifts. I’m trying them this year.
I know…they have saved me a fortune as I used to buy at Crate and Barrel or Cost Plus and the stupid bottles were the priciest part of the gift! I hope you love it too; it’s a gorgeous liqueur.
Well, the results are in! 🙂 The family and friends loved the cranberry liqueur and are already “hinting” that they would be open to receiving more for Holidays 2013. I did make a second batch and added a couple of cinnamon sticks while it was infusing. That was quite nice as well. Thank you Barbara for helping me be one step ahead for 2013! 🙂
So good to hear…I know I love it! It is simply the prettiest liqueur ever and doesn’t hurt that it tastes so good either does it. Here’s to 2013!
Barb, you are a genius! I recently embarked on a slivovitz adventure and a vanilla bean extract adventure and happen to have a bag of frozen cranberries and an extra bottle on my counter that could easily accomodate another flavored vodka project. I’m glad this works with frozen cranberries. Thanks so much for sharing. Wishing you happy holidays! 🙂
You are too sweet but I’ll take it! This is so easy and so good; not to mention SO beautiful! Hope you love it like we do. All I know is I got bottles back from gift baskets in the hopes they would be refilled…that says something huh? 🙂
how much does one batch of the Cranberry Liqueur make?
This looks wonderful! Have you ever tried it with blackberries?
I have not but I would in a heartbeat…maybe substituting lemon juice for the OJ? I’ll have to try it!
I made your cranberry liqueur and brought it to Christmas dinner. It was the hit of the dinner. One person declared it the best after dinner drink he had in his life. Thank you for sharing. I have some cranberries left; I think I will make another batch.
Somehow I missed your comment in December on the cranberry liqueur of mine that you made and what a pleasant surprise to read it now; so very happy you enjoyed it as much as we do. Cheers!
Seems to be something of a cranberry crisis here in Australia this Christmas & frozen cranberries are just not available. I’ve used the whole dried ones and they seem to have worked out well – with huge thanks to Barbara for her suggestions & support.
Merry Christmas from down under!
I love your spirit and more than that…love that it created such success. Thanks for sharing Amanda.
How awful would it be if this (and the coffee liquor) only had two weeks to brew?
Not awful at all; the more time, the more the vodka mellows but I assure you; it has been tasted early and it is fine! Enjoy.
Bugger – kicking myself! Wish I’d looked more closely at this recipe a week ago. I wanted to make it for gifts, but now don’t have enough time. Fresh cranberries a bit like hens teeth here in Oz. How would dried go, do you think?
See if you can find some frozen cranberries first before experimenting with dried OK?
I totally made this for Christmas gifts last year. It’s so funny, as now we’re part of the recipe swap group (and twitter friends) and it’s all coming together now. I love this recipe, and definitely drank my fair share of this liqueur with champagne last year! It was SUCH a good Christmas gift, so thank you for the idea…I’m loving the updated photos and cocktail recipe.
Oh, I love cranberry, and I love champagne. I must make this! Unfortunately, I’m a bit late for gifts I need this year, so my first try will just have to be for me only. (That will be tough, but I’ll make do.) Everyone else in 2012…
I am going to be making this tomorrow!!!! What a neat idea! I have extra cranberries from Thanksgiving and we have a Christmas party coming up in a few weeks so this will be perfect!
Perfect! Funny I just added this recipe to my list for using Thanksgiving ‘leftovers’ thinking someone might have cranberries to use but thought it might be a stretch. Guess not! Make sure to come back and let me know how it turns out; it is the most gorgeous liqueur…a bonus that I love the taste!
I think I am most definitely going to make this over the weekend. A quick question though…How much will this make? I’m just trying to figure out what to store it for the 3 weeks. Also, I live in Illinois and I’m sure we’ll have freezing temps over the next few weeks (sooo not ready for that, but not much I can do about it!). If I store it in the garage, will this freeze or will the vodka prevent that?
One recipe makes about 4 cups of finished product. The batch in my photo? I’ve probably quadrupled that because I give this as gifts. Or because I like to drink it? Both!
I put mine in the garage and I’m in Denver. No matter how cold it gets outside it never freezes there and as you indicate, the alcohol in the mix raises the freezing point as well. I think you should be fine. Just remember to go stir it every day or so…and enjoy!
Well..I made this today! Found slightly different bottles as World Market (thanks!) and went to town. I doubled the recipe (we are in New Orleans) and crossed my fingers that it turns out as beautiful as yours. Only 3 weeks to go! Thank you for sharing..this is right up my alley!
Yay! I’m sure it will Heather; hope you’ll take a pic after you bottle yours. You know what’s killer? Those vodka soaked berries after it’s all done. Amazing. You should sample every now and then; it’s interesting to see how both the vodka mellows and the depth of flavor builds. So excited you tried it!
Today is bottling day! I’m so excited. I have been sampling along the way and you’re right..the vodka mellowed so much! I’ve spread the word about my “project” to family and friends and they are happily awaiting the results. I’ll snap a finished photo. 🙂 thank you again for this recipe!
So glad to hear of your good results Heather. The truth is it can be used immediately…but that time spent aging, like the making of any liquor just adds so much to the end results. Hope your family loves it and I would LOVE a photo; please don’t forget!
Wow! This sounds so yummy. I saw this on twitter, what a great idea!
Thank you and thanks for stopping by…have a good holiday.
What a very cool recipe and am I ever glad you shared it again! I have just enough time to make this for the Christmas holidays and I know plenty of people that would love a drop or two. We love the Cava and Prosecco here too. Bubbles are good anyway they come!
Now, to find some cool bottles. No World Market or Container stores here…*sigh*
YAY!! I’ve been thinking I need to save bottles and the best ones would be olive oil or vinegar bottles…not as large as wine bottles (I would have to start this process and make gallons to fill enough of those) but still with a nice shape. The bottles are the priciest part of the gift; I need a ‘renewable’ resource of my own.
You made it look so easy dear. The only ingredient missing from my pantry – vodka. It’s extremely crucial now that I can’t wait to try this recipe 😀
It’s easy to make it look easy simply because it really is easy! That’s the magical part; I do hope you try it and be sure to let me know; we’ll sip one together!
These look so perfect for the holidays! And I love the old/new photography comparison…gives me hope 😉
You want hope? Take a peek at the photo on this one. https://creative-culinary.com/avocado-tomato-and-mozzarella-pasta-salad-with-pine-nuts I think my all time worst but also right before point and shoot died. I don’t even like it’s replacement but will have to wait til summer for good tomatoes to do another revision. I don’t do recipes again just for photos but some are just dishes we love so I get a 2nd and 3rd chance. Whew!
I think you are doing fine…it’s a lot of work if your passion is cooking isn’t it?
this would be a great homemade gift. I need to start making this, Christmas is just few weeks away. Thanks for sharing Barbara 🙂
You have plenty of time or I should say just about enough time. I might sneak a sip a bit early but the longer it can age, the better it gets. Then it will disappear. And you are most welcome; I love the sharing…only hope that readers enjoy it too.
Such a wonderful idea, I know anyone would love to receive this for the holidays!
Happy Thanksgiving, my friend!
I do think they do Liren! Now if I could only figure out how to give them a nudge to give me the bottles back if they want refills. 🙂
My husband and I make brandy from fruits on our trees and any fruit I can barter for at the farmers market all summer, and we have our friends trained…if they want more, they have to bring the bottles back!! We actually end up getting boxes of different bottles from some of them, LOL!!
I am going to try your cranberry liqueur next winter, it sounds wonderful, and a great gift for the holidays.
Smart friends you have. This past year I resorted to using plain old Ball jars…the cost of the bottles were just too much and most everyone was just getting a refill anyhow.
Oh to have some of my own fruit trees. I want to try so much more and brandy is on that list. Blackberry and peach to start and from there…well, first the room addition to store the results. 🙂
The new photos are gorgeous. I’m feeling very holiday-ish after reading this post. Hope you have a special Thanksgiving.
Thanks Andrea…I sort of enjoy seeing some before (When I hadn’t a clue about what I was doing) and after (when I still need to learn so much more). Hope you have a good holiday too and are still my friend after seeing the Driscolls post. Yes, I included the shot of our ‘tweetup.’
I am in love with these delicious gift ideas. I was set on trying the coffee liqueur and now I may need to try this gorgeous cranberry liqueur first. Your photos are amazing. The color is just beautiful. I even like the older photo (cute bottles!:)
Nothing wrong with both of them, right? You are too sweet but I can’t get rid of the old photos…I will forever see that first photo and remember the frenzy of that day. In a good, holiday spirit sort of way!
I say call it a champagne cocktail, so much sexier than a sparkling wine cocktail. I would love to be your friend and get all these terrific Christmas gifts. Love the blog and the happy hour drink navigation link. Very smartly done.
I agree…beside the old adage ‘if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it must be a duck’ applies. This looks and tastes like champagne so champagne it is!
Love this!! I know I was really excited about the coffee liqueur… and, I still am! But, cranberry? So fabulous. I need to make this for Christmas.
I say do them both Jen. The cranberry is so seasonal and good I couldn’t not make it but I wanted to give out something different this year. Double batches of both? Less than two bottles of vodka!
Looks divine! Might have to add it to the list…
So easy to make and a gift like this from the kitchen? Priceless.
I love the ease of this recipe (‘cept the 3 week brewing time LOL) and I love your gift bottles, very cute. I was just thinking, perhaps people can ask at their local wine and beer brewing places to bottle their home-made liqueurs there? You could purchase the wine bottles directly from them (jumbo size gift!) and then for a small fee they may let you cork them on-site using their equipment. Just a thought.
Heck I’ve got plenty of wine bottles I could use…but I would have to increase my brewing capacity…these smaller bottle are a good size. I need more of a flask size booze bottle. Hmm, now wondering where I could find those beyond checking the side of the road. 🙂
I told you I was going to make this as soon as I replenish our ever diminishing supply of vodka:) What else can I do with all those cranberries I collected from the neighboring bog (kidding, but they are so available and cheap now:)
You have come a long way since those early photos! Congratulations!
Not cheap enough for me…heading to Costco today to get a bushel. I love them that much! And thanks Lana…I don’t even want to think of the money and time it’s taken but as long as the results are evidence of growth, I’m OK with that. I really enjoy the photography; more so now that the injury I suffered in early 2010 doesn’t limit me so much. There was a time when I was lucky to be able to stand on that bad leg for 2 minutes…that did not bode well for most of my pics!
Wow your Cranberry Liqueur looks beautiful…I wouldn’t mind a bottle of that for Christmas…hint hint 🙂
really fun, love the bright red color 🙂
The color is gorgeous isn’t it. Well, with the right camera settings. Once I get some done enuf to make a cocktail that original pic is going to be relegated to the bottom as an example of a ‘before.’
Ooooh this must be amazing! I love cranberry juice and this must be cranberry juice with a kick. Damn, another reason for us to move near you, those homemade holiday gifts!
It is so good Jamie and takes all of about 10 minutes to put together. I want to do limoncello but it is so time consuming; having to peel all those lemons. I’ll do cranberries, thanks you very much!
I used to make liqueurs. That was years and years ago. Why in the world did I stop doing that? Digging out old recipes even now.
They are so easy…publishing coffee liqueur this Friday; it’s a winner too. Would love to hear about what you’ve made.
It seems like you have an extra one. Here is my address.
I just started some cranberry liqueur and can’t wait to taste it in 3 weeks … this would have been lovely to share at Thanksgiving … oh well…. Christmas is just around the corner! I’m going to keep my eyes open for some pretty bottles so I can give some as gifts to some lucky friends! 🙂
You might be able to sneak some out before then. The longer you wait and the longer the vodka ages, the more mellow the flavors become.
I got my bottles in previous years for bottling the cranberry liqueur at The Container Store but just saw the same ones at World Market…I’m sure they were cheaper there. Lucky friends indeed.
I’ve been thinking about doing a cranberry liqueur as well. First I need to go buy some berries. And vodka. Much, much more vodka.
I make Christmas everything – liqueurs, too – and this looks really yummy! It is definitely on the list. Pretty!
Just finished my batch of the cranberry liqueur for this year and made coffee liqueur yesterday. What do you make?
I would also like to know if frozen berries would work, has anyone tried it?
I think frozen would work just fine. I haven’t made it that way but don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
Any specs as to how long this will last? Do I store it in the fridge? SO excited to make this!
Well, I just happen to have some I did not refrigerate and I just tasted it and it’s fine. The combination of alcohol and acid from the fruits makes for a natural preservative. So..suggest keeping cold but that little bit I have leftover is from last year at this same time. Best gift ever!
Thanks! And gift? I think I may be keeping this to myself. 😉
ok, just saw your comment on where you found the bottles 🙂
This is awesome! What a great gift idea! Where do you find those cute little bottles?
Hi Denver Wine Girl–I’m in Denver too! I was just at the Sunflower on 38th yesterday and they had plenty of fresh cranberries!
Yes Juliana it gets mixed in when you put in the eggs, herbs and onion. I’ve made a note in the recipes; thanks.
I’ll have to check the Sunflower closer to me; I’m south off Orchard Road…but thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!
loving this idea. i know this post is a year old, but it was just highlighted on thekitchn, so expect some comments! any idea where i can buy bottles like that? thanks!
Well, this will never go out of style! Actually making again this year…just not shipping it all off. It’s mine this time!
I’ve picked up bottles like that at Sur La Table.
I found these bottles last year at The Container Store; I haven’t been there yet this year but they usually have a lot of interesting bottles to use for packaging like this.
This looks amazing…hope I can still find some cranberries. Could I use frozen?