Recipes

Cranberry Sauce

Here is one of the easiest Thanksgiving side dishes. Actually, it probably is the easiest! Aside from sorting and washing off the cranberries, all you have to do is pour everything in a pan and cook it on the stove for less than 30 minutes. So easy and worlds better than canned cranberry sauce.

While this cranberry sauce is tart, it’s not pucker-your-face sour. Brown sugar and apple juice are the sweeteners in this recipe and, instead of making the sauce blatantly sweet (as I feel white sugar can sometimes do), they seem to tame and mellow the cranberry sourness and turn it into a bright tart flavor instead.

You’re wondering if I’m crazy for adding a small pinch of salt to the cranberry sauce. It doesn’t actually make it salty, just enhances the flavor (like when your grandparents salt melon before eating it).

Next weird ingredient: lemon juice. Why? Because pectin + sugar + acid = gel. While I’m not looking for a consistency as gelled as a jelly, I do like for the cranberry sauce to stick together. This sauce comes out slightly looser than a jam. (It does thicken/gel up as it cools, so don’t panic if your freshly cooked cranberry sauce is still a little more liquid-y than you’d like.) Cranberries are naturally high in pectin, so no additional pectin is necessary. Cranberries are also acidic, but the little bit of lemon juice seems to create a better texture than cranberries alone.

You’ll want to pull out a “non-reactive” pan for this recipe…Stainless steel or enameled pans would be perfect. Cranberries and lemon juice are acidic and react with aluminum or “bare” cast-iron…They can cause discoloration to the pan, and the pans will impart a metallic taste to your sauce.

Keep an eye out for the next post, I’ve got a cookie bar recipe that will help to use up any leftovers! You can also treat the cranberry sauce like a jam to spread on toast, serve with biscuits, or even swirl it in oatmeal.

For the cranberry sauce:

12 ounces/a little over 3 cups cranberries

1 cup apple juice

1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

½ teaspoon lemon juice

Small pinch of sea salt

Dig through your cranberries to pull out any that aren’t good. If they’re already squished open, have big soft spots, or specks of blackened discoloration, pull them out and toss them.

Cranberries to throw out.

Thoroughly rinse the remaining cranberries.

In a medium non-reactive saucepan, combine all ingredients.

Cook over medium heat until boiling and the cranberries are breaking open. The top will be foamy. (This took a little over 10 minutes for me.)

Foamy cooked cranberry sauce.

Reduce heat and simmer for ten additional minutes.

Fully cooked cranberry sauce.

Allow to cool completely. Keep in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Finished cranberry sauce.

Finished cranberry sauce.
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Cranberry Sauce

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Julie at Baking and Other Important Matters

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces or a little over 3 cups cranberries
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Small pinch sea salt

Instructions

  1. Dig through your cranberries to pull out any that aren’t good. If they’re already squished open, have big soft spots, or specks of blackened discoloration, pull them out and toss them.
  2. Thoroughly rinse the remaining cranberries.
  3. In a medium non-reactive saucepan, combine all ingredients.

  4. Cook over medium heat until boiling and the cranberries are breaking open. The top will be foamy. (This took a little over ten minutes for me.)
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for ten additional minutes.
  6. Allow to cool completely. Keep in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Cranberry Sauce

  1. That looks amazing! I can’t wait to make it! I really enjoy all the science/chemistry you give us in your blogs!
    I’m definitely looking forward to the bar cookies!

  2. I have to confess that of all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, homemade cranberry sauce is my favorite! I have a recipe I usually use but it does use white sugar. I am looking forward to trying this recipe. Thank you, Julie! I agree that I also enjoy hearing the reasons behind adding salt, lemon juice, etc. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, too! I hope you enjoy this recipe – especially since cranberry sauce is your favorite! 🙂 It’s been tweaked a lot and this version suited my tastebuds best…Hopefully it will be right for you, too!

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