A full-bodied, tangy bourbon cranberry sauce is just what your holiday table needs. It tastes and looks gourmet but is refreshingly effortless.
Exquisite Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
Say goodbye to that can-shaped blob of cranberry sauce. The aromas, colors, and textures of zesty bourbon cranberry sauce will have you reaching for your saucepan.
It’s easier than ever to make completely homemade cranberry sauce. You don’t have to be a trained chef, and you don’t even need to block out hours of time.
Rich, full-bodied cranberry sauce with complex layers of different flavors simmer together to create an unforgettable bourbon cranberry sauce.
This is the one side dish you want to make when planning your holiday menu! It takes less than 20 minutes, but it looks and tastes like a fancy sauce. In fact, before you even serve it to your guests, they will be able to smell it, and they’ll ask what it is. Even people who aren’t usually fans of cranberry sauce will be adding this to their plates.
As a side bonus, it makes your kitchen smell amazing as it slowly simmers! All the spices and juices infuse together to create an aroma that is like every Thanksgiving and Christmas memory you have.
Put this bourbon cranberry sauce on your holiday dinner menu! You’re going to love it!
This easy bourbon cranberry sauce recipe is made with just seven simple ingredients. Here’s a bit more about what I used:
- Cranberries: It takes 12 ounces of either fresh or frozen cranberries to make this entire dish.
- Maple Syrup: Sweeten the sauce naturally with 1/2 a cup of real maple syrup.
- Orange: Use both the juice and zest from a whole orange. It adds natural sugars and citrus notes.
- Bourbon: The alcohol cooks out of the sauce, you only need 1/4 a cup of your favorite kind of bourbon.
- Vanilla: Real vanilla extract rounds out the flavors completely – you need a teaspoon.
- Cinnamon Stick: Even though you could sprinkle some cinnamon into the sauce, it tastes (and smells) better if you let a cinnamon stick melt into the sauce slowly.
- Salt: You just need a pinch of salt to enhance all the other flavors in this sauce.
Kitchen tools required
You don’t need any fancy kitchen gadgets to make bourbon cranberry sauce. Here’s some more information about what I used to make it.
Gather the following items before you begin:
- Mixing spoon
- Potato masher
- Orange juicer
- Fruit zester
For measuring, you will need 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup, and 1 teaspoon.
How to make amazing cranberry sauce
Making homemade cranberry sauce is so easy to make that you’ll never go back to heating up a can again! Here’s how to make it, step-by-step.
First, add the cranberries, maple syrup, orange zest, and juice to a saucepan and heat it over medium heat until it starts boiling.
Then, reduce the heat and allow the cranberries to burst. This should take about ten minutes.
Once the cranberries burst, smash the cranberries with a fork or potato masher and add in the bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon stick, and salt.
Heat the sauce until it has thickened; this will take about 8-10 minutes.
Once it has thickened, allow it to cool. Serve the sauce immediately! Store it in the fridge.
Below are some common homemade bourbon cranberry sauce questions. Don’t see the answer you’re looking for? Leave a comment at the bottom of this post!
Should you serve cranberry sauce warm or cold?
One of the best things about cranberry sauce is that it tastes just as delicious cold as it does warm or at room temperature. It has a wonderful texture, thanks to the orange zest and popped cranberries.
I like to eat it cold. In fact, I keep some extra cranberry sauce and snack on it whenever I’m in the mood for something sweet.
How do you eat cranberry sauce?
Just pour a spoonful (or two) of cranberry sauce onto your plate and eat it by the spoonfuls. It tastes amazing by itself.
I also love to add a little bit of cranberry sauce on top of my sliced turkey breast or dip my rolls into the sauce. There isn’t a wrong way to eat it! I’ve even heard of people using homemade cranberry sauce instead of gravy on their mashed potatoes.
Is bourbon cranberry sauce good for you?
There are a lot of health benefits of cranberries, but whether this sauce is good for you is tough to honestly say. Maple syrup is healthier for you than white or brown sugar. It’s easier on your blood sugar.
Cranberries are packed with antioxidants that fight disease-causing free radicals. Fresh-squeezed orange juice is really high in vitamin C.
This cranberry sauce is really high in calories, but other than that, it does have a lot of nutrients and vitamins in it.
How do you thicken homemade cranberry sauce?
I discovered that when I added bourbon to the cranberry sauce, it thickened the sauce naturally as it simmered on the stove. This is a sticky-sweet sauce that has a delightfully thick texture.
It might also mean you just need to let it simmer for a bit longer. As it simmers, it will release steam, which cooks the sauce down and makes it jell up.
Can I use whiskey instead of bourbon?
Yes, you can use whiskey instead of bourbon. Just make sure you use a liquor that has bold, smoky or strong oak notes that will enhance your cranberry sauce.
Store this cranberry sauce in the freezer if you need to prep it ahead of time! Thaw on the counter the day before. You can also store in the fridge for two weeks.
If you liked this recipe, you’ll want to try these!
Here are some of my favorite cookie recipes you should make next. Enjoy!
- Holiday Cranberry Cocktail
- Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
- Chicken Cranberry Casserole
- Cranberry Quinoa Salad
Photos by Moriah Sawtelle and recipe by Erin Antoniak.
- 12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 large orange, juice and zest
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- cinnamon stick
- pinch salt
- Add cranberries, maple syrup, orange zest and juice to saucepan and heat over medium heat until boiling.
- Reduce heat and allow cranberries to burst .This should take about ten minutes.
- Once burst, smash cranberries with fork or potato masher and add in bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon stick, and salt.
- Heat until sauce has thickened, about 8-10 minutes.
- Once thickened, allow to cool. Serve! Store in fridge.
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