Christmas/ Cocktail Recipes/ New Year's Eve/ Party

Christmas Sangria (Cranberry Orange Sangria)

19 December 2021 | Last Updated: 31 December 2021 By Aleksandra

Christmas sangria is a holiday version of a popular Spanish cocktail. It’s flavored with fresh cranberries, oranges, and aromatic winter spices. It would be perfect for your Christmas celebrations.

If you would love a similar drink but in a warm version, try this cranberry orange mulled wine recipe!

Two glasses with Christmas sangria in a black board. A pitcher and Christmas decorations in the background.

What is sangria?

Sangria is a Spanish chilled alcoholic beverage, traditionally made with red wine and chopped fruit such as apples, oranges, and lemons. Spirits, such as brandy, are often added.

Sangria is such a delicious drink so it’s not surprising that it’s so popular nowadays in many countries in the world. There are many variations of sangria, including apple cider sangria (white wine sangria), rose sangria, summer sangria with strawberries, peach sangria, or even Thanksgiving sangria or this spooky Halloween sangria.

Labeled ingredients for Spätzle.

Ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Christmas sangria.

Red wine – you can choose medium-cheap wine for this sangria, you want the wine to taste good but you won’t be able to taste all the nuanced flavors of the wine when there are so many other flavorful ingredients involved. Sangria is a Spanish drink so I tend to choose Spanish wine to prepare it. Rioja wine is particularly popular in Spain to make this drink.

Brandy – is used to make the drink stronger by adding a liqueur with more alcohol content. Brandy is the most popular liqueur in sangria. You can also use cognac which is a French brandy produced in the Cognac region. Brandy can be produced anywhere in the world. Just like with wine, you don’t have to buy expensive brandy for sangria.

What to do with leftover brandy – you could also use it to make this Sidecar Cocktail or just simply mix it with some apple cider and you’ll have a wonderful 2-ingredient drink!

Orange liqueur – Cointreau is my favorite orange liqueur. Orange liqueur adds more alcohol to the drink and an orange flavor. You can substitute it with more brandy and orange juice.

Orange liqueur is a great liqueur to have in your pantry. It is so delicious and you can use it to make many drinks such as Cosmopolitan or Cranberry Mimosa

Spices – I used aromatic spices that are used to make gingerbread spice mix to make this drink taste more Christmassy (cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, cloves). I usually use just cinnamon sticks for a classic sangria.

Cranberry juice – use cranberry juice cocktail (cranberry juice sweetened with sugar) or cranberry juice sweetened with other fruit juices for this recipe. Do not use unsweetened 100% cranberry juice which would be too tart for this recipe. If this is what you have, you can just add simple syrup to the drink.

Check out all my cocktail recipes with cranberry juice to see how you can use up the leftovers.

Orange juice – I used store-bought.

Cranberries – you can use fresh or frozen. Do not use dried cranberries.

Oranges – I always use oranges with cranberries. These two flavors are meant for each other!

Sugar – is used to sweeten the drink. I’m using brown sugar for that sweet caramel flavor but you can also use just granulated sugar. I’m making simple syrup with brown sugar to ensure that the sugar is dissolved.

Some recipes for sangria call for something fizzy – you could top your sangria with ginger ale or club soda/sparkling water/sparkling wine if you prefer your sangria fizzy. During our trip to Spain, we drank sangrias that were made without anything fizzy so I prefer my sangria flat. I also think it just takes away the red wine flavor and tastes mostly of ginger ale. If you want to use it, add it just before serving to retain the bubbles.

Step by step instructions

A collage of 9 photos showing how to make Christmas sangria step by step.

STEP 1: Make cranberry orange syrup (photos 1,2,4): add orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom pods, cloves, and 1/2 cup of fresh cranberries into a small pot. Using a sharp knife peel 1 orange and cut the peel into strips. Lay the zest strips on a cutting board orange side-down and cut off the white pith (discard it). Add the orange zest and the juice from the peeled orange into the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes until all the cranberries have burst. Strain the syrup and add to a large pitcher. Reserve the cinnamon stick and also add it to the pitcher. You can discard the cranberries, orange zest, and spices.

STEP 2: Add the liquid ingredients (photos 3,5,6,7): Add wine, brandy, Cointreau, and cranberry juice to the pitcher.

STEP 3: Add the fruit (photo 8): Add 1 orange cut into cubes. Stir with a spoon and taste the drink. Add some lemon juice if it’s too sweet (I added 1 teaspoon). Add the remaining cranberries (1/2 cup) just before serving or for up to 2 hours (if left for longer in the drink, they can make it bitter).

STEP 4: Let chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge then enjoy!

Storage

The longer you chill the sangria the better it will taste. Keep the cranberries in sangria no longer than 2 hours – they can make it bitter. I’m using them only for decoration, the drink is already infused with cranberry flavor by using cranberry orange syrup and cranberry juice. Keep the oranges in sangria no longer than 12 hours – strain your drink and put it back in the fridge, discard the fruit.

You can store sangria without fruit for up to 2 days in the fridge.

Two glasses with cranberry orange sangria on a black board.

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

Christmas Sangria (Cranberry Orange Sangria)

Christmas sangria is a holiday version of a popular Spanish cocktail. It’s flavored with fresh cranberries, oranges, and aromatic winter spices. It would be perfect for your Christmas celebrations.
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Two glasses with Christmas sangria.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 203kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 bottle red wine 750ml
  • 1/2 cup brandy 120ml
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau orange liqueur
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberry juice sweetened
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or to taste

Instructions

  • Make cranberry orange syrup: add orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom pods, cloves, and 1/2 cup of fresh cranberries into a small pot. Using a sharp knife peel 1 orange and cut the peel into strips. Lay the zest strips on a cutting board orange side-down and cut off the white pith (discard it). Add the orange zest and the juice from the peeled orange into the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes until all the cranberries have burst. Strain the syrup and add to a large pitcher. Reserve the cinnamon stick and also add it to the pitcher. You can discard the cranberries, orange zest, and spices.
  • Add wine, brandy, Cointreau, and cranberry juice to the pitcher.
  • Add 1 orange cut into cubes. Stir with a spoon and taste the drink. Add some lemon juice if it’s too sweet (I added 1 teaspoon). Add the remaining cranberries (1/2 cup) just before serving or for up to 2 hours (if left for longer in the drink, they can make it bitter).
  • Let chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge then enjoy!

Notes

  • Chill the sangria for at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight.
  • You can store sangria without fruit for up to 2 days in the fridge.
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/8 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!
Course Drinks
Cuisine American, Spanish
Diet Vegan, Vegetarian
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