Pickled Cranberries

December 15, 2014(updated on November 14, 2022)

These pickled cranberries are ideal for the holiday season. The berries are perfect for serving with roast meat or with a charcuterie plate, and the brine is delicious in cocktails (or a glass of sparkling water).

pickled cranberries pint

I am a devoted to the belief that when it comes to holiday giving, a homemade gift (preferably edible), is best. I come by this attitude honestly, as my parents have a tradition of pairing my mother’s homemade jams with quart jars of my dad’s famous pancake mix to share with their friends, family, and neighbors.

I’ve been filling little flat rate boxes to send off some of my favorite far-flung people, and when my local family gathers on Saturday for our annual Hanukkah party, I’ll be carrying a sturdy crate full of jams and pickles so that everyone can pick their favorite.

pickled cranberries pint horizontal

This post was initially written in partnership with Ball Canning to share a seasonal recipe as part of their 25 Days of Making and Giving campaign. However, that campaign is long since over, so I’ve revised this post to focus on the best part. These pickled cranberries.

I initially wrote a recipe for pickled cranberries back in the days when I was writing about pickles for Serious Eats. However, I’ve found that the yield wasn’t perfectly consistent and readers sometimes struggled to find some of the ingredients I called for.

This new and improved version makes exactly 4 pints of preserves (which you can either can in pint jars, or spread across half pints, for an increased gifting yield) and uses things you should be able to get at the grocery store or local spice shop.

pickled cranberries

The finished pickled cranberries are a lovely thing to serve alongside roast meat or with a cheese plate, and if you’re going to pack it up in a box to ship across country, I highly suggest that you include a note telling the recipient to stir the liquid into sparkling water or a gin and tonic.

4.67 from 3 votes

Pickled Cranberries

Ingredients

  • 3 12- ounce bags of cranberries
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup filtered water
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 inch segment of fresh ginger sliced
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

Instructions

  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and four pint jars and new lids.
  • Wash cranberries and pick over for any stems or bad berries.
  • Combine vinegar, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add cinnamon sticks to the brine.
  • Place fresh ginger, allspice berries, whole cloves, and black peppercorns in a spice bag or tie them up in a length of cheesecloth. Add them to the brine.
  • Once brine is boiling vigorously, add the cranberries. Stir to combine and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the cranberries begin to pop and the brine has returned to a rolling boil.
  • When cooking time has elapsed, remove pot from heat. Pull out the spice bag and cinnamon sticks. Break cinnamon sticks in half and set aside.
  • Using a slotted spoon, ladle cranberries into prepared jars. Cover berries with brine, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Place a cinnamon stick segment into each jar.
  • Wipe jar rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  • When time is up, remove jars from canner and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and check seals. Any unsealed jars should be kept in the refrigerator.
  • Let jars sit for at least 24 hours before eating to all the flavors to settle.

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31 thoughts on "Pickled Cranberries"

    1. Serve them with roast meat or poultry. Put them out with a cheese board. Pour them over a slab of cream cheese, the way you would pepper jelly. Toss them in a salad. Use them as part of your braising medium when you make pulled pork.

  • I made this the other day and served it over cream cheese at Christmas. So pretty, and was very good, although I think I prefer the jalapeno jelly over cream cheese. I do quite like the cranberries in cottage cheese or yogurt. Yum!

  • What can I use instead of sugar. I have been using Xylitol and Stevia. Can I substitute one of these? Happy New Year! Brenda

    1. Sugar substitutes don’t behave in the same way that sugar does. Neither xylitol or stevia will work appropriately with this recipe.

  • Ball needs a better copy editor. The very first recipe I looked at on the 25 days website had a bad mistake in it: it left out the oats and doubled the sugar apparently.

  • I make these every November/December, and they are always hugely popular. I love adding them to “seasonal” cheese plates to bring to various holiday soirees. My favorite pairing is a couple of the berries with a little bleu cheese on a cracker. So, so good.

  • Cranberrys have such structural integrity that I used some from the freezer. (last year’s berries). They were too tart for me while cooking, so I added more sugar. Now I have a tasty but still tart cranberry jelly. The frozen cranberries held up just fine by the way.

  • This looks intriguing! Thanks for sharing. Two questions:

    1. Does 12 ounces refer to weight or volume? I’m camping RIGHT NOW and frantically picking to see if I can get enough to make this! 🙂

    2. If I don’t pick enough, can the recipe be halved?

    1. The 12 ounces refers to weight, because that’s how cranberries are most often sold. However, this is a high acid recipe so you can improvise safely. There’s no way to make a combination of cranberries, vinegar, and sugar unsafe unless you added several cups of onions and garlic. So use what you have and enjoy it!

  • This is ridiculously easy and delicious…will make another batch for gift giving! I was a little apprehensive because I thought tart and tart??? But it is amazing…thank you Marisa!

  • I made these last year and loved them! I want to make them again but don’t have any full allspice berries. Is it ok to put all the other spices in the cheesecloth but to add the allspice as powder?

    1. If I were to make that swap, I’d use coconut sugar. It contains true sugar and will help with the set. Monkfruit doesn’t lend any set assistance.

  • I can’t wait to try this! I have been enjoying a lot of pickled fruit SO much more than expected. The first thing I tried was cherries. That was so good I had to try plums, tomatoes and pears. I love a little bit on a salad and maybe a little bit in my salad dressing. Any great ideas for replacing whole clove? I am not a fan. I thought I could put a few pieces of star anise in.

  • 5 stars
    I had almost, but not quite, an extra fifth pint jar of berries and brine so I used them, with ketchup and a little maple syrup, as the sauce for cocktail sausages. Yum! My cranberries were gorgeous but profoundly tart- different cranberries might not have needed the maple syrup.

  • 4 stars
    I reduced the recipe because I didn’t have enough cranberries and boiled the berries for 6 min. It came out more like a jelly than separate berries/brine. It tastes good, just not what I was expecting. Did I cook it too long or over too high heat? Thank you!

    1. It could be that the cranberries you used were a bit softer than the ones I’ve used for this pickle. If you make it again, boiling it gently just until you see the first couple berries start to pop. Then pull it off the stove. You should get something less jelly-like that way.

  • 5 stars
    This is absolute brilliance! The cranberries are mouth puckering, but the brine is warm and spicy, the smell is absolutely divine! Will be making again to gift. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!