Like many of you, I grew up eating jellied cranberry sauce from the can…Plop. Then one Thanksgiving, a guest brought homemade orange-cranberry sauce that impressed us all. When I first made cranberry sauce I was amazed how simple it was; just mix water, sugar and cranberries in a pot, heat it up, cool it down and presto – homemade cranberry sauce that took all of 15 minutes to make.
So over the years I’ve tried all kinds of sauces with different flavors and methods. Here are a few of my favorites. You can make a fresh peach-raspberry cranberry relish, an apple-pear brandy walnut cranberry sauce and an apple-orange jellied cranberry sauce for that nostalgic plop effect. 🙂
Fresh Cranberry-Peach-Raspberry Relish
This is a nice alternative to the usual cranberry-orange relish with juicy peach and sweet raspberry flavors.
- 12 oz/3 cups fresh cranberries rinsed and drained
- 3/4 – 1 cup sugar (or honey, agave nectar, or whatever sugar combination you prefer).
- 1 1/4 cups (10 oz) of fresh or thawed frozen peaches
- 3/4 cup (6 oz) fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
- 1-2 tablespoons peach liquor or peach brandy (optional)
- pinch of salt
- Combine all ingredients in your food processor and pulse until desired consistency.
- If making this within one hour of eating, place the relish in a container, cover and allow it to sit for one hour to allow flavors to meld. If it is more than one hour before you will be eating, just place it in your refrigerator. You can also make this the day before eating as well.
- For optimal flavor, remove the relish from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
Cooked Apple-Pear Walnut Cranberry Sauce with (or without) Alcohol – Brandy, Cognac, Rum or Red Wine
I love this lightly spiced cranberry sauce with apples and pears and the added texture of toasted walnuts. This recipe is pretty versatile to swap out different fruits, spices and nuts. You can also substitute the liquor with your preferences. This is my version adapted from Food52’s recipe.
- 12 oz fresh or thawed frozen cranberries rinsed and drained
- 3/4 – 1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark) or honey, agave nectar, or whatever sugar combination you prefer. For example, I’ve used 1/4 cup of maple syrup and 1/2 cup of brown sugar before in this recipe.
- 1 peeled and grated gala, fuji or granny smith apple (note for the fruit, you can use 2 pears or 2 apples instead of one of each, if you prefer)
- 1 peeled and grated Bartlett pear
- With alcohol option – 1/2 cup plus 2-4 tablespoons brandy (or cognac or rum), divided. A flavored brandy, such as pear or cherry, would also be good. I haven’t tried, but substituting a dry red wine for the brandy would be worth trying.
- Without alcohol option – Substitute 1/2 cup orange juice or apple cider for the above listed alcohol. In addition to the orange juice, if using, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract (at end after removing from heat) or 1 teaspoon of orange zest (with juice while cooking), but either are optional.
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts (pecans are also a good alternative)
- Combine cranberries, sugar, apple, pear, spices and 1/2 cup alcohol (or 1/2 cup juice) in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. If you are using orange juice, you can add the zest now too.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens, 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and 2-4 tablespoons of brandy (or your preferred alcohol choice) or, if using orange juice, add the 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract.
- When cooled and ready to serve, stir in the walnuts.
Notes: You can make this several days in advance. I would recommend making it at least a few hours in advance to allow all the spices and flavors to meld. Keep chilled in your refrigerator and add the toasted nuts just before serving, otherwise they will become soggy.
Jellied Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce
You can make firm, jellied cranberry sauce by using either powdered pectin, gelatin or apples which have a high amount of natural pectin. For this recipe, I like to use apples and apple cider for both the flavor and firming-effect. This sauce can be left to be a little chunky or blended for a firm jam-like consistency or put through a sieve for a smooth jelly. You can use it in any type of mold or in Mason jars to give it that more tubular look. Read step #1 in directions for more info.
- 12 oz of fresh or thawed frozen cranberries*
- 1 apple (gala, Fuji or granny smith), peeled and finely diced**
- 1 cup sugar
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup apple cider (or water)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*If you use frozen cranberries, the mold may be a little softer than when using fresh which gives a firmer mold.
**You can also run the entire mix (not blended) through a sieve to create a smoother jelly. If you use a sieve, then make sure you grate the apple rather than dice it or else you’ll loose the diced apples and some of the flavor.
- Choose a mold for your sauce. It can be a loaf pan, glass dish, bowl, bundt pan, etc.. Just make sure it can hold at least 4 cups. Now either spray/coat it with oil or line it with plastic wrap that is also coated with oil. You can also pour the sauce into Mason jars, if you prefer.
- Combine the cranberries, apple, sugar, zest, orange juice, apple cider and salt in a saucepan.
- Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
- Reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst and the sauce thickens, about 10-15 minutes.
- Remove sauce from heat and add vanilla extract.
- You can either now pour the sauce into your mold or, if your prefer, blend the sauce to a puree in your blender* or use a sieve.
- Refrigerate sauce until set, 1-3 hours, then unmold. If using Mason jars, run hot water over the outside of the jar, open the lid and then run a thin spatula or knife around the inside edges to release.
*If using a blender, make sure the sauce has cooled slightly or use the method below (remove lid completely!) so you don’t have any cranberry-sauce explosions. Splattered red liquid all over the kitchen is not a good look.
Follow this method and take the entire blender lid off to avoid explosions when blending hot liquids:
For Die-Hard Canned Cranberry Sauce Lovers
I know that some people are traditionalists and insist that their cranberry sauce be dumped out of a can and have circular raised ridges. For those, I direct your to Marisa’s recipe from Food in Jars. She reuses BPA -free cans to mold her sauce which will make any canned-cranberry-sauce enthusiast happy. 🙂
Question: What is your favorite type of cranberry sauce? Do you have any unique flavors you like to add to yours? Let us know in the comments below!
Cranberry Health Benefits
Researchers believe that some of the chemicals in cranberries keep bacteria from sticking to the cells that line the urinary tract where they can multiply which help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). I don’t like to drink a lot of cranberry juice everyday and you need to drink 100% cranberry juice – not the cocktail version – to get the full benefit. So instead I take cranberry capsules.