Easy Drunken Cranberry Walnut Pie Recipe

Spoiler alert: the pie is not the only drunk thing in this story.

Cranberry pie


I did not go home for Thanksgiving this year, so I joined a friend and her family up in Maryland. Last week, as I was daydreaming about what savory side dish I would bring, my oven promptly bit the dust. Lovely.

I am not one to show up empty-handed, so I still volunteered to bring a dessert. However, being oven-less, I asked my friends who live in Georgetown to let me borrow their kitchen. Tuesday night, I packed up my ingredients and headed over.  

We arrived just past 8:00 PM. As of 11:07 PM, we had completed the following prep work:

  • Drink 4-5 bottles of champagne
  • Watch various YouTube clips of Jimmy Fallon
  • Listen to songs off the new One Direction album (at my insistence)
  • Paint nails
  • Order sushi
  • Smudge nails
  • All mutually agree that Adele is great

Ah yes, the pie. Motivation was at an all-time low, but just when I was about to call it, my friend Shannon shot up off the living room floor in a rallying battle cry: “THIS PIE IS HAPPENING. GET UP.”

Let me just say, baking is NOT my strength. I broil, sautée, braise, poach and roast, but baking is whole different animal. It’s like actual chemistry. So this is an uphill battle even when I’m sober.


In addition to me being a (tipsy) novice baker, I was also a) trying a new recipe and b) trying a new recipe without all the measurements. Yeah. When I copied it down over the phone, I may have missed some details. But, onward.

What you will need:

  • 1 Pillsbury pie crust
  • 12 oz bag of cranberries
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Another glass of champagne to get you through this
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • Orange juice
  • Orange zest
  • Salt
  • Berry jelly/jam
  • Someone’s cell phone balanced in blender to amplify your Spotify playlist
  • Sherry
  • An egg
  • Good friends who encourage you to handle a stove when you’re 6 glasses deep



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If you’re like me and my friends, your stove is from the 1960s and you just kind of assume it’s preheated when it’s really hot.
  2. Get a pie pan and place Pillsbury crust in pan. I didn’t remove it from the foil it came in, I just put the whole thing in the glass dish. It’s not hurting anyone.
  3. Combine orange juice and a little bit of water to make about a ½ cup mixture. Add sugar to the liquid. Add the mixture to pot on the stove at whatever heat you want.
  4. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved.
  5. Add ¾ of the bag of cranberries. Save the last ¼ of the bag.
  6. Stir until you hear the berries start to pop. Once you’ve heard a few pops, add the remaining cranberries.
  7. Stir in orange zest (literally no idea how much. I zested about 1 tsp and then got frustrated and threw the zester in the sink). 
  8. Add some salt. Not sure how much, but I always err on the side of caution with salt. I did a few sprinkles.
  9. Stir in vanilla extract.
  10. Remember that you have butter. What’s it for? No one knows. Now seems like a good time to add it, though.
  11. You have an egg too. Hmm. Add that I guess?
  12. Stir in walnuts.
  13. Pour into pie shell.
  14. Bake 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye on the crust so it doesn’t burn.
  15. While the pie is in the oven, heat berry jelly and sherry in a pot over some level of heat. Basically, you want a glaze to pour over the pie once it’s done. I used ½ cup of jelly and I think that was too much. I used ¼ cup of sherry and that wasn’t enough. I added more sherry so it ended up being more like 2/3 cup sherry.
  16. Once pie is done, spoon your glaze over the top of the pie (not too much).
  17. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be served at room temperature.

As I’m writing this, I haven’t actually tried it yet, so I can’t tell you how it turned out. Fingers crossed – I’ll let you know the verdict after Thursday! Until then, enjoy this gif of James Franco eating pie.


Author’s update: the pie came out REALLY WELL! After nervously warning everyone that the chef had been three sheets to the wind during the pie’s creation, I was pleasantly surprised to bite into a tart, citrus-y, slightly sugary slice of heaven.


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