Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

A lot of folks think that cranberry sauce is basically a jello mold. Nay! There is no gelatin at all. The gelling is achieved via the berry’s natural pectins. That’s right, it’s a congealed salad that freakin’ makes itself! I prefer to keep mine on the simple side, but feel free to spice things up with nutmeg, cloves or ginger. If something tropical suits, you could stir in some finely minced chiles or some chopped vanilla bean, or perhaps cardamom…that was a test…cardamom would suck. Whatever you do, don’t tinker around in the engine room: The amount of fruit, water, acid, honey and time must remain constant.

Cranberry Sauce

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (one large orange should do it)
  • 1/4 cup 100% cranberry juice (not cocktail!*)
  • 12 ounces honey (1 cup by volume)
  • 1 ounce crystallized or candied ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1 pound fresh cranberries (washed and sorted (feel free to use frozen, but thaw first))
  1. Combine the orange juice, cranberry juice, honey and ginger in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cranberries and increase heat to medium, cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens. As it thickens, drop the temperature to low, to prevent splattering. Do not cook for more than 15 minutes, as the pectin will start to break down and the sauce will not set as well.
  3. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Carefully spoon the cranberry sauce into a 3-cup mold. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
  5. Once the cranberry sauce has cooled, overturn the mold and slide out the sauce. Slice and serve.

*Can also use 100% pomegranate juice if you can’t find cranberry.
Because I get nostalgic over the days of canned cranberry sauce I usually set mine in an actual can. Looks like your mother’s cranberry sauce, but doesn’t taste like it.


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  1. 6

    Mine set perfectly but the honey was waaaay overpowering!! I left out the ginger, dont like the flavor, but love the ginger ale suggestion above!! Going to try simple syrup/ginger ale for Christmas!

    • 7

      I add a half teaspoon of fresh ginger (well, sort of fresh as I use the pre-minced in a jar stuff), and it cuts down on the sweetness tremendously. The last two years, I made the recipe as is minus the candied ginger as nobody in our family likes it, and the honey was definitely overpowering. Both years, I took half of it home after the big turkey feast. This year, I added the fresh ginger, and there weren’t any leftovers.

    • 14

      What I do instead of buying cranberry juice, is take surplus cranberries and pulse them a cup or so of water, then strain. (There’s always some extra since I get 2 x 12 oz bags of cranberries and the recipe calls for a pound.)

    • 15

      I get the tiniest bottle of POM’s 100% pomegranate juice so I don’t waste the huge bottle of 100% cranberry juice (both are undrinkable by themselves, in my opinion). You need the dryness of the juice to counteract some of the honey, boost flavor, and all those chemically things it does with acid balance and such.

  2. 18

    I followed the recipe exactly, and while it was cooking, I thought it tasted too much like honey, but was not sweet enough. I added about 1/4 cup sugar, and just a bit of orange zest about 5 minutes into the cooking. It set pretty well, and the flavors were very balanced when I served it 3 days later. I loved the texture of the whole cranberries in it. They did not taste at all like the ones in canned sauce. Everyone really enjoyed it. I have a little left and am going to cook up some blueberries and sugar and combine it as a compote with french toast.

  3. 19

    Made this last night and the taste is wonderful and it set perfectly! I love the ginger, and i added a bit of orange zest as well. Super recipe!

  4. 20

    Been in the fridge for 12 hours and hasn’t set yet. If I turned this over it will be a pool of red mess. Followed the directions to a T. Confused…

  5. 24

    I just made some. I followed Alton’s recipe. It is amazing. The crystallized (candied) ginger really adds to the flavor and goes places that cranberry sauce rarely goes. I cannot wait for it to set up. I am making a special angel food cake with a special icing made from cream cheese, powdered sugar, sour cream, vanilla, and cool whip. The cake will have three layers and I will top it with the cranberry sauce. It slowly drizzles down the sides of the cake and makes for a wonderful presentation. The cake will be awesome with this cranberry sauce on top of it.

  6. 32
    Megan C

    Oh how I love the idea of putting it in a can. I too get nostalgic for the can ridges. Also, I made cranberry sauce last year from scratch with orange in it, and my then 2 year old kept asking for “more candy please”. We finally figured out he meant the cranberry sauce!

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