Thanksgiving Cranberry Curd Tart Recipe

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Last Updated on October 11, 2022 by Share My Kitchen

Have you ever found a dessert that makes you so incredibly happy, and you wonder why you haven’t made it years before? That’s how I feel about this cranberry curd tart. It is one of the most memorable desserts I’ve ever made and I think any self-respecting cranberry lover would adore it.

Cranberries are a fall and winter fruit that is often overlooked. They are often left to sit in a can of canned cranberry juice on the Thanksgiving table as an afterthought to all the pumpkins and apples that occupy the dessert space.

The curd is a deep-red, garnet color. It has a silky smooth texture. The tart cranberry flavor is enhanced with vanilla and orange (and plenty of butter, sugar, and eggs). It takes only a few minutes to put together and doesn’t require you to set up a double stove.

It is placed on a super-easy, press-in shortbread cookie which doesn’t require any resting time. This makes it even more simple than other pies. Because curd can leave behind egg whites, I like to add a little Italian meringue, which I made using a blow torch.

Cranberry Curd Tart Recipe Recipe Card

This cranberry curd tart is made with a shortbread crust that has been pressed in. It was inspired by the one Alice Medrich used in every recipe. To keep it tender, this one uses a little orange zest and powdered sugar. This cranberry curd is a variation of one I have been making for years. It’s made with vanilla and freshly squeezed orange juice. 

You can also add a splash of any orange liquor you prefer (but don’t go out and buy Grand Marnier, Dry Curacao, or anything else just for this purpose). You can make the tart crust up to 2 days in advance. The curd can also be prepared and chilled up until a week before baking. Once the curd is chilled, the tart can be assembled and baked on the day you choose. Although the meringue can be left out of the tart, you can add it because it contains extra egg whites. 

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 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 the oven to 350°F. Mix the flour, sugar powder, salt, and milk in a small bowl. In a small saucepan or microwave, melt the butter. Add the vanilla extract and orange zest and stir. Finally, pour the butter into the dry ingredients. Stir until well combined. The crust will appear wet. Allow it to cool down for a while so that it firms up.
  2. Place the dough in a 9-inch tart pan. Bake the tart pan for 20 minutes on a baking sheet.

Make the cranberry curd

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the orange juice and cranberries over medium heat until they split. Strain the mixture through a food mill, or fine mesh sieve. Discard the skins. This mixture is very thick so it takes some effort to push it through a fine mesh sieve. You can make it easier by using a food mill. However, if you have trouble with this, blend the mixture and then put it through a sieve.
  2. The strained cranberry mixture should be returned to the saucepan. Add the orange liqueur (optional), sugar, eggs, and yolks, to the pan. Give everything a stir. Stirring constantly, heat gently on medium-low heat until the mixture thickens to 170°F (usually takes between 8 and 9 minutes). Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and transfer to a bowl. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until curd is set. It should not jiggle, but it should still be firm.
  3. Allow cooling to room temperature for approximately 1 hour before transferring to the fridge to chill. This can be served chilled or at room temp.

Make the Italian meringue topping (totally optional)

  1. Use an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar in a bowl. 
  2. Over medium heat, heat sugar and water in a small saucepan. Turn on the mixer when the sugar mixture reaches 220°F. Then, start beating the egg whites at medium speed. Once the sugar mixture reaches 240°F, turn off the heat and slowly pour the mixture into the mixer. 
  3. Turn the mixer on high until the egg whites form a stiff peak. Transfer the mixture to a zip-top bag or piping bag and pipe it onto the cooled tart. You can torch the meringue using a kitchen torch if you wish. This is completely optional, as the meringue is already cooked.

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