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How To Make Cranberry Tart

Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home

What could be more festive than a beautiful, shimmering ruby cranberry tart for the holidays? Each time we make one of Amelia Simmons’ cranberry tarts, visitors to the kitchen inevitably ask for the recipe.  Though simple and delicious, the directions are not as clear as most modern cooks would like them. Our Foodways staff worked out the recipe for you so that you can try this new take on cranberry sauce at home.

18th Century

“Stewed, stained and sweetened, put into paste no. 9 and baked gently.”

-Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery (1796)

21st Century


  • 1 12 oz bag of whole cranberries
  • Sugar
  • Pastry crust of your choice
  • Tart pan*
  • Butter

*We used a 9 x 2 inch tart pan. A slightly bigger pan is fine, but it is not recommended that you use a pan much bigger than this.  The filling is quite tart and sweet, so a little goes a long way!


  1. Place cranberries in a pot and just cover berries with water. Cook on medium-high until berries ‘pop’ and become soft. This should only take about 10-15 minutes. Make sure the water does not boil completely away.
  2. Cut a 12 x 12 section of cheese cloth and place inside a small colander or strainer. Pour the contents of the pot into the cheese cloth. Let the berries and water drain for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, pick up the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze berries to extract the juice and jelly. Discard contents of cheesecloth.
  3. While the juice is draining, butter a tart pan. Roll out your pastry and place into the tart pan. Trim sides so that crust is flush with the sides of the pan. Place parchment paper in shell and fill with dry beans/rice to weigh it down. Blind bake crust at 350 degrees until lightly browned and fully cooked.
  4. Measure juice. Add an equal amount of sugar. For example, if you have 2 cups of juice, add 2 cups of white granulated sugar.
  5. Place sugar and juice in a pot and cook until thickened. Let cool until lukewarm.
  6. Remove the beans and rice and fill baked tart crust with the lukewarm filling. Let set for approximately one hour. Decorate with dollops of lightly sweetened whipped cream and enjoy!

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Historic Foodways