How to make sorrel

28.11.21 | Recipe by Renz

The deep red color and warming flavor of this Caribbean sorrel drink is guaranteed to put you in a festive mood! This non-alcoholic favorite is made with tangy sorrel and gently spiced with cloves and cinnamon.

A jug of Caribbean sorrel drink with two glasses of sorrel with ice.

Caribbean sorrel drink, usually just referred to as ‘sorrel’, is a favorite in Caribbean households right the way through from Christmas to the new year.

Growing up, as soon as glasses full of it started appearing, I knew that it was nearly time for Christmas.

You might find, on the internet, you will see a lot of "Jamaican Sorrel Drink" recipes but this is a beverage that is also just as popular in the other Caribbean countries (and African countries).

This recipe is straightforward to make. The zesty flavor of the sorrel is sweetened with sugar, and warming cloves and cinnamon create a taste almost like a spiced cranberry lemonade!

If you feel like an alcoholic drink, you can also add rum - lots of people do this because it goes well with the spiced flavor.

Traditionally, sorrel would be left steeping for a long time to give the drink its signature flavor and crimson red color.

However, I wanted to make a quick and easy version while preparing for a family Christmas, so I briefly boiled the ingredients, which meant it only needed to steep for an hour or so.

I’m excited to show you how to make this drink because it’s a Christmas tradition that my family and I treasure.

It’s a special drink that usually only comes out at this time of year, and it means that non alcoholic drinkers can enjoy something more interesting than juice or soda when you’re having a gathering!

If you’re looking for more inspiration for non-alcoholic drinks for your holiday celebrations, try this fresh and flavorful festive drink homemade ginger beer.

What is sorrel?

There are actually two kinds of sorrel, and you need to make sure you get the right one; otherwise, your drink won’t taste good!

You probably think of the leafy green when you hear the word sorrel, but this isn’t the one used for making this Caribbean drink.

The kind you need for this recipe is actually hibiscus flowers, also known as Jamaican sorrel or Flor de Jamaica. It is the Hibiscus Sabdariffa.

It looks quite similar to cranberry because of its bright red coloring. It has a sharp, almost acidic taste like cranberry does.

You can buy it either fresh or dried, and you might see it referred to as roselle, red sorrel, or Florida cranberry.

The plant is used in many Caribbean dishes because it adds a fresh, slightly acidic taste and deep color. If you’re interested in cooking more with it, this rich sorrel BBQ sauce is a great place to start! Then make some sorrel wings.

You can find dried flowers in a lot of Caribbean stores, Latin American, and Asian markets. It can also be found online. I especially love this Carib brand as I find that it gives the strongest flavor.

Some cultures use sorrel leaves too. It aids in relieving respiratory issues.

Health benefits of sorrel

As well as adding great taste and color to your cooking, sorrel has a lot of health benefits.

  • Studies have shown that sorrel can help with weight loss, as it helps you digest food more effectively.
  • It’s high in Vitamin A, which is vital for good vision.
  • It’s a good source of Vitamin C, which helps to boost your immune system and fight off colds and flu.
  • Good for thinning the blood.
  • Can lower blood pressure.
  • It contains antioxidants that help to keep your heart healthy.
  • Sorrel has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to prevent disease.
  • Many women report that drinking sorrel a few days before the start of their period can help to relieve menstrual cramping.
  • Similar to cranberry, sorrel is a diuretic. Diuretics can help to ease constipation and improve digestion.

Two glasses of Caribbean sorrel drink with ice and boiled sorrel leaves

What is a Caribbean sorrel drink?

You make Caribbean sorrel drinks by steeping the petals and spices in hot water to create a drink with striking red color and tastes quite sharp and spicy.

Sorrel is served cold, so it’s nice and refreshing. It’s a great way to keep yourself hydrated and give yourself a boost when it’s been a long day of cooking and talking.

As with a lot of Caribbean recipes, how to make sorrel will differ slightly from household to household. I’ve given you my recipe here and some ideas on things you can add to make it your own.

The beautiful red color of sorrel does mean that it can stain, so be careful not to get any on your favorite clothes!

Ingredients for how to make sorrel


To make the Caribbean sorrel drink, you will need:
  • Dried sorrel.
  • Cups Water
  • Cloves.
  • Cinnamon sticks.
  • Sugar - white sugar works best because it dissolves quickly. Using brown sugar will also darken the color of the drink. You can also use a simple syrup to sweeten
  • Mixed essence - this is a flavoring often used in baking. It adds a sweet and fruity flavor to your sorrel.

How to make sorrel

Begin by bringing a pan of water to a boil.

Once the water has started to boil, add the sorrel, cloves, and cinnamon to the pan. Then, allow it all to cook for one minute.

Next, remove the pan from the heat and leave it to steep for at least an hour. The longer you let it steep, the stronger the flavor will be.

Sorrel flowers and spices in water for the steeping process

Then into a large bowl, strain the liquid through a fine sieve to remove the lumps. At this point, give it a taste to see how strong the flavor is - if it’s too strong, you can add more cups of water to dilute it.

Finally, sweeten it to your liking.

Strained sorrel pulp to separate for  the sorrel juice

Serve chilled and over ice. It looks and smells great if you add some orange peel to the glass.

Or use some to make deliciously boozy sorrel rum punch.


  • If you want to add some extra flavor to your Caribbean sorrel drink, add 1 orange rind to the pan and boil it with the other ingredients.
  • You can also add about an ounce of fresh ginger to the pot for extra fire in the initial boil! Some people also like to add ginger wine to their sorrel at the end while they’re sweetening it. Start with about a 3/4 cup, then add more if you wish
  • Adding white rum to your sorrel drink turns it into a delicious cocktail. You can start with 1/2 cup of rum.
  • You can use fresh sorrel rather than dried to make this recipe if you can get your hands on any! It is hard to find in the US. However, if you decide to use fresh sorrel, you will need to use double the amount because dried sorrel has a more concentrated flavor.


Sorrel keeps well in the fridge. It can be there for up to two weeks. You can easily make it ahead of time if you know you have guests coming over.

When storing, be sure to keep it in a sealed container for freshness. I either use empty rum bottles or mason jars. Just make sure they are sterilized.

Close up of sweetened sorrel juice with ice

After the drink is made, what do you do with the strained sorrel?

You can reuse the flowers one more time and make a weakened drink. Add water to just about the same level of the flowers mixture and give it another boil and seep.

Note that this time it will not be a pungent as the first boil, but it will still have some flavor.

Some also used the leftovers to make a jam. By adding sugar and more liquid and boiling till a jam texture is met.

Or even take some of the liquid and the petals and make sorrel cake.

So go ahead and make some of this delicious drink. Really is one of the main beverages that are synonymous with a Caribbean Christmas.

Let me know what you think of this refreshing drink.

Here are some other sorrel drink recipes:

Then you can use the drink to create some:

Interested in more Caribbean drinks? Here are some of my favorite punches: