Thanksgiving sangria is a delicious twist on the classic sangria. Think white wine sangria with a fall twist – it has real pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, and fall fruit. It is so good – slightly sweet, perfectly spiced, so quick and easy to make. Definitely a crowd-pleaser!
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 white wine sangria, apple cider sangria, rose sangria, summer sangria with strawberries, peach sangria, or even Christmas sangria (cranberry orange), or this spooky Halloween sangria.
Below you will find information about the ingredients and how to prepare the recipe. For the measurements and detailed instructions scroll down to the printable recipe card.
Here’s what you need to make this easy recipe:
White wine – you can choose an inexpensive wine for this sangria, but it should also be something that you would drink on its own. There is surely no reason to overpay because you won’t be able to taste all the nuanced flavors of the wine when there are so many other flavorful ingredients involved.
I used a Californian chardonnay to prepare this drink and it was great. Dry, crisp wines such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, or pinot grigio are great choices because they counterbalance the sweetness of the apple cider, orange liqueur, and maple syrup. Sweeter wines such as Moscato or a medium-sweet Riesling can also be used (if your drink comes out too sweet you can always add some lemon juice to it).
Spiced rum – is used to make the drink stronger by adding a liqueur with more alcohol content since there are so many fruit juices/pulp added that dilute the drink. Brandy is the most popular liqueur for sangria but in this recipe, I opted for spiced rum which goes perfectly with fall ingredients such as pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice.
Fruit – I used an apple and a pear. I prefer them to be firm, because they will soften in the drink and have the perfect texture to scoop out with a spoon from your sangria to snack on. Softer fruit will turn out too mushy to enjoy in this drink, they would only lend the flavor to the drink.
Orange liqueur – Cointreau is my favorite orange liqueur. Orange liqueur adds more alcohol to the drink and an orange flavor which works here perfectly. If you don’t have it you can add orange juice, but I would REALLY recommend buying it – it adds an amazing flavor to the drink and also sweetens it. If you won’t use it you may need to add more maple syrup to the drink.
Apple cider – you can use apple cider or just apple juice. Apple cider will have more flavor and will be less sweet. You can use this recipe to make homemade apple cider. Spiced apple cider would also work here very well! Make sure to buy fresh apple cider made without added sugar.
The difference between apple cider and apple juice: Apple cider is less processed, it’s more cloudy because it contains a small amount of apple pulp. Apple juice is usually sweeter, it’s completely filtered and pasteurized to increase its shelf life.
Apple cider is a non-alcoholic beverage. It can be confused with alcoholic apple cider which is also called ‘hard cider’.
Apple cider is also NOT apple cider vinegar, which is made from fermented apple juice and it’s very sour.
Pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice – the stars of this variation of sangria! I would really encourage you to make homemade pumpkin puree – the flavor is so much better than canned pumpkin puree. It’s really easy to make and your oven does all the work for you. You can make homemade pumpkin pie spice with just 5 ingredients!
How to make it step-by-step
STEPS 1+2: Make pumpkin syrup: add pumpkin puree, water, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. I like to mix the syrup with a hand blender so it’s really smooth and emulsified but this is optional.
STEPS 3+4+5+6: Add white wine, apple cider, rum, and orange liqueur to a large pitcher.
STEP 7: Add your pumpkin syrup. Stir to combine.
STEP 8: Add cranberries, diced apple and pear.
STEP 9: Put in the fridge to chill and for the flavors to meld, for at least 1-2 hours or even overnight.
Don’t leave cranberries in your sangria for more than a couple of hours (it can turn bitter).
Stir well before pouring into glasses.
Pitcher size – you will need a large pitcher for this recipe (about 6 cups). If you only have smaller pitchers, stir the liquid ingredients, divide them between two pitchers then add 1/2 of the fruit amount to each pitcher.
This is a perfect drink to make for a crowd and to make-ahead! It literally needs to be made ahead – the drink needs time to chill and the flavors need time to meld. The only thing you need to think of is to not leave the cranberries for more than 2-3 hours, the drink can turn a little bit bitter. You can omit them, they don’t add much to the drink but I like to add them because of the presentation – they look júst gorgeous in an otherwise orange-ish/yellow-ish drink.
If you leave the fruit in the drink overnight, it also tastes really delicious the next day, but if you want to leave them that long, make sure the fruit you’re using is firm and not ripe and soft. If you only have soft and ripe fruit, don’t leave it for more than 2-3 hours in your sangria (only if you want to snack on it, if you’re only adding it for flavor, it doesn’t matter).
If you have soft fruit and want to make it more than 24 hours ahead and serve it to your guests, I would let the sangria infuse with fruit overnight then I would strain it and discard the fruit. Add a new batch of fruit 30-60 minutes before serving it to your guests so that your sangria has an amazing, fruit-infused flavor but also crisp fresh fruit for your guest to snack on. This would be a perfect solution but if you serve the sangria without the fruit salad, it will also be very good. Please not that these are simply my personal preferences.
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!!
Thanksgiving Sangria (Pumpkin Pie Sangria)
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- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree preferably homemade
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 bottle (750ml) dry white wine I used Chardonnay
- 1 cup (240ml) apple cider
- 1/3 cup (80ml) spiced rum I used Captain Morgan, you can also use brandy
- 1/4 cup (60ml) orange liqueur I used Cointreau
- a handful of fresh cranberries optional, they are mostly for presentation
- 1 large firm apple
- 1 large firm pear
- Make pumpkin syrup: add pumpkin puree, water, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. I like to mix the syrup with a hand blender so it’s really smooth and emulsified but this is optional.
- Add white wine, apple cider, rum, and orange liqueur to a large pitcher.
- Add your pumpkin syrup. Stir to combine.
- Add cranberries, diced apple, and pear.
- Put in the fridge to chill and for the flavors to meld, for at least 1-2 hours or even overnight. Don’t leave cranberries in your sangria for more than a couple of hours (it can turn bitter).
- Stir well before pouring into glasses.
- White wine – you can choose an inexpensive wine for this sangria, but it should also be something that you would drink on its own.
- Pumpkin puree – I would really encourage you to make homemade pumpkin puree – the flavor is so much better than canned pumpkin puree. It’s really easy to make and your oven does all the work for you. You can also make homemade pumpkin pie spice with just 5 ingredients!
- You can make this homemade apple cider for this recipe.
- Instead of orange liqueur, you can use orange juice.
- Calories = 1 serving (1/6 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!