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Fresh Cranberry Sorbet

This recipe was given to me by a high school classmate with whom I recently got in touch with at our 20 year reunion. After he found out I had a food blog, he mentioned a family recipe for cranberry frappe that he would share if I was interested. He said they usually serve this instead of cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. I’ve never cooked with cranberries before and I had been looking for other interesting sorbet flavors to make, so this cranberry frappe recipe really interested me. At the time it was August, so I knew I would have to wait a few months before fresh cranberries would be readily available at the store. A little over a month ago I was finally able to spot fresh cranberries at my local supermarket.

The texture of this sorbet is incredibly smooth and reminded me a lot of the raspberry sorbet I make. A frappe has more of a slushy texture, so I renamed this recipe as a sorbet since that is how I was going to serve it. If you wanted to make this into a frappe, you could under-freeze it or partially thaw and blend the mixture. I also added limoncello to this recipe to help keep the finished sorbet soft. I did want a little orange flavoring to balance out sharpness of the cranberries, so I added some orange zest to the cooked cranberries. Although the orange zest is only with the cooked cranberries for a few minutes in the blender before being caught in the chinois, the orange flavor is still perceptible. I’ll be making this recipe again for Thanksgiving and plan to substitute Grand Marnier for the limoncello.

Even if you aren’t a huge cranberry fan, this recipe will surprise you—it’s pretty good. After making this recipe I definitely think cranberries are underrated. I’m eager to try pairing them with other fruits for new sorbets.

Ingredients for making Cranberry Sorbet.

Rinse 4 cups fresh cranberries and remove any stems or oddly colored or shaped cranberries.

Boil cranberries in 2 cups of water for 8 minutes. Cranberries can pop when cooked, so cover slightly to reduce splattering.

Add 2 cups of sugar and zest from one orange to the cooked cranberries (do not drain) and purée.

Use a chinois or sieve to separate the skins from the cranberry purée.

Place hot purée in ice bath and begin to chill. Once mixture is no longer hot, add juice from 2 lemons.

Add 1/4 cup of limoncello and continue to chill mixture until it is less than 45° F.

Pour chilled sorbet base into ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker’s instructions.

Transfer finished sorbet to dedicated container and let ripen in freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery can be found on the Cranberry Sorbet recipe page.

  • I’m willing to bet that it’s that quarter cup of limoncello that is making the sorbet so smooth. Any more than that and it probably wouldn’t freeze!

  • Hi Elise, I think I might just take you up on that bet! 😉 I’m using about 1/4 cup of liqueur in all my sorbets and haven’t had any issues with slushiness. This recipe, like the raspberry sorbet, is very viscous–even before freezing–thanks to the fruit puree. I really didn’t expect the cranberries to yield such a thick base, but they really thickened up after cooking. I’ve noticed that some sorbets, especially citrus ones, can have a more icy feel after a couple days in the freezer. For those sorbets, I really think the alchohol is a must unless you plan on eating it all the same day (which I could do for meyer lemon sorbet!). Thanks so much for stopping by–and thanks for the link, too!

  • Janice

    I tried cranberry sorbet at 2 Amy’s restaurant in Washington DC last year and found it to be a bit mouth puckering and bitter. But that may have been the ginger they added to it. Did you find it to have a certain astringency?

  • Hi Janice, this sorbet is actually not too harsh or acidic. I think boiling the cranberries might help to mellow out their flavor a little. I have seen some sorbet recipes that call for raw, blended cranberries, and perhaps that could also be an explanation. Ginger might also act to heighten the cranberry flavor, whereas the orange zest in this recipe is intended to do just the opposite. Thanks for commenting!

  • What a beautiful frozen holiday treat. Goes perfect with the season!

  • Now that does sound good. We make Limoncello from scratch so we have plenty of that but where I am we don’t normally have cranberries freshly available. Would strawberries work for this?

  • Kristen: It was a bigger hit with the kids on Thanksgiving than I ever imagined.

    Paula: The limonello in my recipes is made from scratch by a friend who has a meyer lemon tree. Yum. This recipe would need some pretty major alterations for strawberries. Less sugar and more lemon juice, and of course, no cooking. At some point I may make a strawberry sorbet, but in the meantime I bet there are a lot of resources in the blogoshphere you could check out. Best of luck!

  • jMo

    Now that is something else. Good all year round. Would be great for Christmas.

  • What a great recipe blog everything so looks delicious…

  • Brian,

    The cranberries sorbet looks amazing and this is something I would really like to try.

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