Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?

Cranberries were always present on my family's Thanksgiving table.  If I was celebrating in Kansas City, I usually had some in the form of a can-shaped jellied blob.  On alternate years in Chicago, I'd have them two ways: a cranberry-orange relish and a homemade cranberry sauce.  I loved all three, but now I make my own version with dried fruit, ginger, and grand marnier.

Most people I know buy a can or follow the instructions on the Ocean Spray package.  Either is fine, but if you want to step it up a notch this year, I have some suggestions:

Forget the Water
Water adds the necessary liquid for your recipe, but provides no flavor.  Instead, substitute juices, liqueurs, or a combination.
  • Orange Juice
  • Apple Cider
  • Hard Cider
  • Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • Cranberry Juice
Spice it Up
Add a few pinches of one of these spices for flavor.  At the table everyone will be asking you just what is in your (now famous) cranberry sauce.  Many of these will do double-duty for your holiday desserts.  Add any spices in small amounts and taste as you go. 
  • Ginger (dried, fresh, or candied)
  • Cardamom
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Star Anise
  • Vanilla Bean
More Fruit
Cranberries are tart.  Besides adding sugar to your sauce, other fruits can provide some natural sweetness and more flavor to your dish. 
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Dried: cranberries, apricots & cherries
  • Orange segments
Other Tips

If you're only going to add one thing to your cranberries (besides sugar and water), choose an orange.  Add the zest of one large orange and the juice.

    Rinse your cranberries in a colander under cold water.  The berries should be firm.  Discard any that are mushy or feel thin-skinned like a grape.  Take care to remove stems.  Your fresh cranberries should not look like this:


    The basic recipe for cranberry sauce is 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, & 1 package fresh cranberries.  Knowing this formula can help you estimate your substitutions.  I prefer 1/2 cup juice, 1/2 cup liqueur, 3/4 cup sugar, plus the cranberries and other dried/fresh fruit.

      Cranberry Sauce Mix
      Mr. Grieves - The Pixies
      Underneath the Leaves - John Vanderslice
      Sunday Morning - The Velvet Underground & Nico
      Carbonation - Enon
      Faith - George Michael
      Susanne - Weezer

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