Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce

Each year for the holidays, I experiment with a new twist on cranberry sauce — the one item that somehow for many in my family make the meal complete.  I grew up eating cranberry sauce from a can.  You know what I'm talking about, right?  The apply the can opener, and slide the gelatinous ruby red cylinder from the can cranberry sauce — can markings and all.  Its place of honor after I'd been given the responsibility for it about age nine, was to lay the cylinder on a small plate and artfully slice a few rounds so they'd be easy for those interested in laying a slab on their already loaded plate.  We love to give my mother a hard time about the can markings on the cranberry sauce, but I'm not sure she's always amused.

I can't remember when I gave the can up, but it must have been after I had my first two sons and began to get even more daring in the kitchen trying recipes I'd never thought of before.  With respect to cranberry sauce, this involves: 1) purchasing a bag of fresh cranberries; and 2)  following the directions on the bag.  Tough work if you can handle it.

But over the years, the experimenting began, and although I haven't strayed too far from something I'll call traditional, I have managed to have some fun with orange and nuts.  If I get too crazy, it doesn't get eaten — the bowl sitting on the table looking a bit too mysterious to those who like no surprises on Turkey Day. 

This year, I ran across a new recipe for cranberry sauce at The Wednesday Chef, a lovely site that I'd not visited before, but spent quite a bit of time sorting through and bookmarking other promising recipes. Her "Cranberry Orange Sauce" has the perfect mix of citrus and spice.


Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. fresh orange juice
1/3 c. Cointreau
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 T orange zest

In a small sauce pan, add the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, liqueur, and spices.  Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to medium low, simmering until cranberries pop and the mixture thickens a bit — 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the orange zest and remove from the heat to cool completely, then refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.


  • I loved this recipe.  The original calls for 1/2 c. toasted, chopped pecans which I would have also loved, but the nuts in the cranberry sauce sometimes pushes it over the edge for the more picky eater.  I haven't figured out how to sneak in the nuts yet.
  • I know you're thinking the Cointreau is an issue.  You can use another orange liqueur, or, add it and burn off the alcohol with a match.  The intense flavor is wonderful and very different than what I've tried with recipes that use only orange juice or zest. 
  • If you don't like one of the spices listed, have fun with those you do enjoy.  Cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg…they'd all be excellent in this.
  • If you love herbs, then fresh rosemary would also be excellent minced in this.
  • This is definitely something I'd make the day before.  It's one less burner being used on my stove on a busy day! 

6 thoughts on “Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce

  1. Slicing the can of cranberries was my job too! How could our mother’s serve this can of gel. They were such good cooks but served the marked can, so, so weird.
    I love the cointreau addition here, very nice!

  2. This looks fabulous Kelly. It might get me kicked out of all my blogging groups so don’t tell anybody but I’m still required to put the canned stuff on the table, Gorn just can’t do without.

  3. So mom LURVES the Oceanspray orange cranberry sauce that comes in lil white tubs.. it’s easy and convenient so I buy every year for her (I’m not a big cranberry lover). Well, the store isn’t carrying it this year or Oceanspray isn’t making it anymore. I was forced to buy the jelly in a can shit as that’s what she always served at Thanksgiving. *shudder*
    So now I’m going to make this for her! Yay! I’ll let you know what she thinks 😀 xoxo

  4. the sauce in a can cracks me up–it’s one of the most freaky phenomena i’ve ever seen. meanwhile, i like this twist on the sauce. i, of course, would have to add cinnamon, but not too much since i wouldn’t want to overwhelm the lovely orange-cranberry combination. 🙂

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