Cranberry Curd Tart. From Blossom to Stem |
dessert, fall, favorites, pies and tarts, recipe, vegetarian, winter

Cranberry Curd Tart, a garnet-hued delight

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Cranberries are the under-appreciated fruit of fall and winter.

They’re often relegated to a sad cylinder of canned cranberry sauce at the edge of the Thanksgiving table, an afterthought to the apples and pumpkins taking up the dessert space.

Cranberries. From Blossom to Stem |

Which is a shame, because when strategically deployed, cranberry desserts not only bring a welcome burst of color, they bring a lovely puckery acidity to punctuate a big meal.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a classic apple pie. But it’s not the only way to celebrate fall and winter.

This cranberry curd tart is the cold-weather dessert you didn’t know you needed.

Easy Shortbread Tart Crust

The curd itself is a deep-red garnet color, with a silky smooth texture and the tart cranberry flavor gets rounded out with vanilla and orange (and not a small amount of butter and sugar and eggs). 

It comes together in a few minutes on the stove, and it doesn’t even require you to set up a double boiler.

Cranberry Curd Tart on a cake stand

And honestly, the curd itself is worthy of licking off the spatula.

But this dessert gets even better.

It sits on a super-easy press-in shortbread crust that doesn’t need any resting time, making this even easier than most pies. 

Cranberry Curd Tart. From Blossom to Stem |

And, because the curd leaves a couple of egg whites behind, I like to top it with a bit of Italian meringue that I hit with a blow torch.

Which, honestly, is a totally unnecessary bit of showing off and you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.

(You know you want to.)

Cranberry Curd Tart. From Blossom to Stem |
Yield: 8 servings

Cranberry Curd Tart

Cranberry Curd Tart. From Blossom to Stem |

This cranberry curd tart uses a press-in shortbread crust inspired by one Alice Medrich uses in everything. This one has a bit of orange zest and powdered sugar to keep it tender. The cranberry curd itself is a riff on one I've been making for years that's rounded out with a generous splash of vanilla, some freshly squeezed orange juice from the orange you just zested, and an optional splash of any orange liqueur you like (but don't bother going out to buy Grand Marnier or Dry Curacao just for this). The tart crust can be made and baked up to two days ahead, and the curd can be cooked and chilled up to a week in advance, you can then assemble and bake the tart on the day (or day before) you want to eat it. The meringue is totally optional, but because the tart leaves you with extra egg whites from the curd, it's easy to go that extra step and add the meringue. The amount of meringue isn't as much what you would typically do for a towering lemon meringue pie, but it's plenty for piping decoratively on the top (and enough to cover the whole top with dots like you see pictured if you wanted to do that). You'll need a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom for this recipe.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


For the crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one orange

For the cranberry curd

  • 12 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier (optional)

For the Italian meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water


Make the crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Add the flour, powdered sugar, and salt to a small bowl and whisk together. Melt the butter in a small saucepan (or in the microwave), add the vanilla extract and orange zest to the butter and stir, then pour into the dry ingredients and stir together until thoroughly moistened. 
  2. Press the dough evenly along the bottom and sides into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Make the cranberry curd

  1. Heat the cranberries and orange juice in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the cranberries split. Strain through a food mill or fine mesh sieve and discard the skins.  
  2. Return the strained cranberry mixture to the saucepan and add the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, butter, vanilla, and orange liqueur (if using) to the pan and give everything a good stir. Heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and registers 170°F on an instant read thermometer (this usually takes about 8-9 minutes). Immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl (ideally with a pouring spout) and then pour into the prepared crust. Bake (still at 350°F) until the curd is set (it should jiggle but not slosh), about 10 minutes.
  3. Let cool at room temperature for about 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill. You can serve this chilled or at room temperature.

Make the Italian meringue topping (totally optional)

  1. Add egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat. When the sugar mixture registers about 220°F turn on the mixer and begin beating the egg whites on medium speed. When the sugar mixture registers 240°F remove from heat and carefully pour into the mixer over the egg whites. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag (or zip top bag) and pipe onto cooled tart as desired. If you want, torch the meringue with a kitchen torch. (But since it is cooked, this is totally optional).


Tart is best on the day it is made, but keeps well, refrigerated, for up to two days.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 312Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 203gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 164mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 3gSugar: 56gProtein: 9g


  • This is such a gorgeous tart! A total show stopper!

    • Thanks so much, Jessica!

  • This seems like a wonderful dessert! I totally agree that cranberries are completely underrated and should be the star dessert the whole winter season!

    • Glad to have another cranberry fan around!

  • What a delicious looking dessert! I bet it tastes even better than it looks 🙂

    • Thank you!

  • This tart would be a stunning centerpiece for any holiday meal. So pretty and I’m sure it tastes wonderful too!

    • Thanks, Jill!

  • I have never heard of this wonderful dessert, but it looks amazing. I will definitely give this recipe a try.

    • Let me know how it turns out!

  • I made this this weekend and although it looked beautiful, it was way too sweet. I added pomegranate syrup (1 tsp)/which helped cut the tartness of the cranberries and the flavor was great. When I took it out of the oven after 10 minutes, it was way too jiggly so I put it back in for 10 more minutes and I may have over cooked it as it came out a bit cloudy. Should it be so jiggly after 10 mins? Anyway, everyone was impressed with how it looked and I will definitely try this again. I added sugared cranberries and blueberries along with the meringues, so pretty! The crust was soooo delicious! Wish I could upload a photo.

    • The sugared berries sound beautiful! I’m surprised you found it too sweet, that’s not something I’ve heard from anyone else who’s made it (when the curd is warm, it should taste a teensy bit too sweet because when it is chilled the sweetness is suppressed).
      There should be some jiggle but not much after 10 minutes. Every oven is slightly different, so there’s always a possibility it could take longer to set.
      Being slightly cloudy is normal and I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  • How far in advance can you make the curd? I’m hoping to make it and keep it refrigerated for a few days. Will it be okay?

    • Danielle,

      Yes, it will be fine! It should keep for at least a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You may need to bake it a few more minutes for the tart to set when baking from chilled, but that’s the only adjustment.

  • Does the curd have to be baked, i.e., can I make just the cord part and use it as a dip?

    • The curd doesn’t need to be baked, just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator!

  • I just made mini these last night. Incredible! Taste amazing. Note: torch definitely adds a special touch. But I did want to ask on the straining, I felt it was hard to get the cranberry for a smooth consistency. Didn’t want to over cook them and removed the skins. If I added more oj it helped but would take away the beautiful red color. Any tips? Can I use a processor? Time limit on heating? Is the split cranberries more drastic?

    • The straining does take some elbow grease! You really have to push the cranberries through the strainer with a spatula.

      You can’t really overcook the cranberries themselves in the first step. The splitting should be pretty obvious—there will be a line along each cranberry where the skin has burst. Sometimes they make a faint popping noise. But it should only take about 5 minutes for them to split.

      You could put the cooked cranberries into a blender or processor before straining. I haven’t tried it, but it wouldn’t hurt.

      • I put it through a foley food mill and it worked great.

  • Hi ! I’m making your pie now and for some reason once I placed the cranberry juice in it lost it’s color.. not sure what I did wrong it’s cooking now but it looks more pink than red, originally the color looked beautiful. Any tips for next time ? Thank you!

    • I’m not sure what happened. Cranberries are naturally a deep pink-red color, so a dark pink color would be normal. My guess is that your berries were just on the pinker end of the normal cranberry spectrum.

  • I love this recipe!! Should the meringue be fresh or can that last as well at room temperature

    • The meringue lasts well at room temperature for about a day.

  • I can’t wait to try this recipe, but I’m concerned because my tart pan does not have a removable bottom. Why is that type of pan recommended?

    • I recommend a tart pan with a removable bottom because it makes it easy to remove the tart from the pan.

      It’s tough to remove a tart from a one-piece pan.

      That said, you could serve it in the pan if you want to go ahead and make it in the tart pan you have.

  • I think it would be good to specify what amount of orange juice to use in the curd since all oranges have a different amount of juice. I’m in the middle of making this. I think my orange had about 1/2 cup of juice. Thanks! Can’t wait to try it!

    • The curd is flexible enough to work with the typical range of juice in most oranges. Anywhere from a 1/3 cup to about 3/4 cup is fine.

  • Thinking of making this recipe for a Christmas dinner in a week. How think should the curd be before pouring it into the shell?

    • The curd will be the right thickness if you cook it to 170°F. It should coat the back of a spoon.

  • Can I make the tart shell ahead of time and refrigerate it?

    • You can make the tart shell ahead of time and keep it at room temperature for a day or two. There’s no need to refrigerate just the shell.

  • i have made this tart twice and it’s amazing! although i find that the crust is never enough dough. i tried the recipe as is twice and had to make 50% more each time. anyone else?!?

    • When it seems like there isn’t enough dough, you just need to keep pressing it thinner. Just keep pushing and spreading it with your fingers and it will cover the whole pan eventually, I promise! It’s supposed to be quite thin!


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