Cranberry Orange Trifle

Cranberry Orange Trifle: a Thanksgiving dessert that isn't pie!

Would you like a holiday dessert that isn't pie?!? A dessert that will have people coming back for seconds...and maybe even thirds? A dessert that can be prepped ahead of time and feeds a small army? I have just the recipe for you - Cranberry Orange Trifle.

*this recipe was developed for my friends at Imperial Sugar

Cranberry Orange Trifle: a Thanksgiving dessert that isn't pie!

So, what is a trifle anyway? 

A trifle is a layered dessert, typically consisting of cake, egg custard, jam, and topped with whipped cream. Trifle recipes traditionally include a bit of booze as well. Sherry is the usual spirit of choice in an English trifle.  

In America, you'll frequently see the custard layer swapped for pudding and the cake for brownies. Jam is often exchanged for fresh strawberries. 

Cranberry Orange Trifle

Our cranberry orange trifle has a few components. Most can be made ahead then assembled. Even the assembly is done ahead of time - the trifle magic happens in the fridge - so no baking or fussing is going on while your guests are waiting

Cranberry Orange Trifle

Cranberry Orange Trifle components:

  • cranberry orange pound cake
  • vanilla pastry cream
  • prepared cranberry sauce
  • whipped topping
  • sugared cranberries
  • orange liqueur
It looks like a lot, but it really is a joy to make a trifle when you make a plan and take your time. 

Cranberry Orange Trifle

I can hear you now...

But, can I use real whipped cream instead of whipped topping? 

You can, BUT whipped topping holds up so much better to the resting that the trifle needs. It won't split or curdle...and the silky texture works so well with the other pieces in the dessert. Use Cool Whip or something like dairy-free CocoWhip. Either is great.

sugared cranberries for topping trifle

Once the trifle has been assembled and spent some time in the refrigerator, top it with sugared cranberries and a bit of fresh orange zest. Scoop with a large spoon to serve. (I'm warning you now; I'm obsessed with sugared cranberries. This may turn into a sugared cranberry blog.)

Cranberry Orange Trifle

Cranberry Orange Trifle is an absolute hit with kids and grown-up alike. Add it to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert table for an unexpected cool, creamy, tart, and fresh treat! Sorry, pie

I'm sharing my recipe for Cranberry Orange Trifle over on Imperial Sugar
The recipe includes all of the components: cake, pastry cream, sugared cranberries - the works. I'll walk you through making it and the assembly. Let's go! 



  1. I also love a cranberry tart for a holiday dessert, sweetness with a touch of the tart cranberries. In your recipe, exactly what Cranberry Sauce do you use? For example, Ocean Spray jellied cranberry in the can OR whole berry cranberry in the can OR what other type? Thanks for sharing!
    PS. I LOVE your decorated sugar cookies, especially the Mary Engelbreit designs:)

    1. Hi Joyce! Thank you so much:)! Any cranberry sauce will do, really. I tested this recipe with Trader Joe’s jarred cranberry sauce.


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