I'm not kidding when I say cranberry sauce is my favorite part about Thanksgiving. I love making it, I love eating it, and I love sharing it. Most people don't really think about making their own cranberry sauce. It seems to be more of an afterthought. But I'm here to tell you that if you've been eating canned cranberry sauce your whole life, you've really been missing out. Try making your own this year and I promise you won't be disappointed!
Cranberry and orange make a classic flavor combination. I like to use fresh oranges, but you can skip a step and use canned mandarin oranges too. As long as you add some fresh orange zest, that bright, citrusy flavor will still come through. The cinnamon really adds a little something extra too.
I try to use the best part of the orange for this recipe. I believe chefs call them "supremes." I'm definitely not a pro, so don't make fun of my knife skills, please. To start, cut the ends off of the orange to make flat spots on both ends. Then working from the top, cut in a downward motion to remove the rest of the peel. Cut the segments out from the membrane so that no membrane is left on the segments. This method leaves a lot of waste, so I like to squeeze the juice out of the leftover peels and membranes to add some more orangey goodness to the sauce.
Once you've finished prepping the oranges, the rest is pretty simple. Boil some water and sugar (plus reserved orange juice) on the stove, add the cranberries, boil 10-15 minutes, add in the orange zest, oranges, and cinnamon and that's it!
Tip: If you don't want to spend any of your precious Thanksgiving meal prep time on cranberry sauce, don't worry! This sauce freezes beautifully. Make it the week or even month before and you'll be good to go.
Holiday Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- 12 oz fresh cranberries
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp clementine zest
- 4 fresh mandarin oranges (or ½ cup canned mandarin oranges)
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- Wash cranberries in colander and pick out any bad ones.
- Zest mandarin oranges. Cut tops and bottoms off mandarin oranges. Remove the rest of the peel by cutting in a downward motion. Once all peel is removed, set aside. Cut segments out of the orange, leaving the membrane. Squeeze juice out of remaining membrane and pieces of peel into a small bowl.
- Bring water, sugar, and orange juice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add cranberries to pan and return to a boil. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cranberries start to pop, use a wooden spoon to smash some of them against the edge of the pan. Leave about half of the cranberries whole. Simmer 5 minutes more.
- Remove from heat and stir in orange segments, orange zest, and cinnamon. Cool and refrigerate. Serve cold.
- Put cranberry sauce into quart size zippered bag. Freeze flat and store up to 3 months.