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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 scattered on a counter

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.(Sort of the way this lemon ginger tart does.)

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
Cranberry Curd Tart on a sheet pan

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 black 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 with Italian meringue, untorched

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 with toasted meringe, vertical orientation
Yield: 8 servings

Cranberry Curd Tart

Cranberry Curd Tart with toasted meringe, vertical orientation

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. The crust will look wet. Let cool for a few minutes until it firms up slightly.
  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.  [Edit: this mixture is thick and takes some muscle to press it through a fine mesh sieve. It's easier with a food mill, but if you're struggling with this, put the mixture in a blender and then pass it through a sieve.]
  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

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Friday 25th of November 2022

Just pulled this beauty out of the oven. I found that the crust totally slumped into a flat cookie but went ahead and used it anyway. Am keeping my fingers crossed that once it has chilled in the fridge it will be set enough to hold its shape without the tart form. The curd that I licked off of the spatula was delicious!


Thursday 24th of November 2022

I love this recipe! I have made it 3 times and it always turns out beautifully! Make sure you warm the curd to 170° before baking. I process the cranberries and OJ in my vitamix before straining through a sieve, so much easier for me. I also get about 2/3 cup juice from my fresh orange. The color of this tart a stunning! Thanks for a delicious recipe!


Wednesday 23rd of November 2022

Really disappointed in this recipe. Followed exactly and after baking for twice the specified time, it's still really sloshy and boiling over the sides of the tart pan.

Mary Kasprzak

Thursday 24th of November 2022

This sounds overbaked. In the future when baking curd pies, err on the side of a little more sloshy than you were thinking here. It will set as it cools.


Thursday 24th of November 2022

I bake a ton and haven’t had a curd tart (or any dessert for that matter) fail that spectacularly. I can only assume I missed the sweet spot between sloshy and jiggly :( pretty bummed as the curd did take a bit of time, this is gonna be embarrassing to serve. I might be able to save with merengue but it’s going to have to travel and sit for a while so I originally wasn’t even going to do that step


Thursday 24th of November 2022

@Erin same! Mine was really sloshy for 15-16 mins and then puffed up a ton (while still sloshing) and went over the sides, although it was all below the sides when it started baking. Plus cracking at the edges


Wednesday 23rd of November 2022

Has anyone ever forgot to put the butter in the curd like I just did? It still looks good, but we’ll see how it tastes tomorrow


Wednesday 23rd of November 2022

I just put this in the oven and realized that I left out the butter. Duh! Hope it sets up. I did tast the filling and it was very delicious

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