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!