Tart cranberries are mellowed in this homemade whole berry cranberry sauce featuring apples and cinnamon, which lend a warm flavor. Delightful with your holiday turkey.
The giant bag of cranberries at the warehouse club we belong to caught my eye. “That’s a lot of cranberries,” my daughter Paige, who’s 10, said as I plunked it into our cart.
But we’ll use them all.
Years ago on an autumn trip to Cape Cod, I bought fresh cranberries from a roadside stand. It was awesome. Those berries had been grown just a few meters from the honor box that I dropped my cash into. And when I got home with my five or 10 pounds of cranberries, I got to cooking — breads and sauces and salsas galore.
I think that was when I realized how much I adore cranberries.
And one of the things I couldn’t wait to make with these berries was a whole berry cranberry sauce. Specifically, I wanted to make a riff on the cranberry apple sauce I’ve made for years. This version is a little less tart (thanks to the addition of brown sugar) and a little warmer (thanks to the cinnamon). The result is a sauce that’s delicious with turkey on Thanksgiving but also amazing with fish tacos, roasted chicken breasts and more.
I should confess though that this won’t be the only cranberry sauce I make for Thanksgiving this year. We are a decidedly two cranberry sauce family. Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce, a homemade version of the beloved canned kind, hits the table alongside my whole berry sauce. My mother loves that one.
Two cranberry sauces, one table, every year. It’s how we do Thanksgiving. I suspect we’re not along in serving both versions of the sauce. How about you?
This whole berry sauce begins with cranberries. Rinse them thoroughly and pick them over, removing stems and any soft cranberries. Don’t worry though if any tiny stems are missed — they practically dissolve into the sauce.
Once the berries are washed and the other ingredients are prepped, it’s time to start cooking. Make a simple syrup with water, granulated sugar, brown sugar and lemon juice. Once it’s bubbling and all the sugar has been dissolved, stir in the cranberries, apples and cinnamon. Bring it back to a boil and then let it simmer. The cranberries soon begin popping and softening.
After 10 minutes — Yes, just 10 minutes — it’s done. Easy peasy. I bet you won’t even break a sweat making this.
Transfer it to a bowl or bowls, and cool it on the counter. Then cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it. Or you can make this ahead and freeze for later. This can be stored in an airtight freezer-safe container (frozen) for up to four months. Defrost it just before serving.
Personally, I froze half of this batch. The first dish for Thanksgiving is already checked off the to-do list.
Score one for me.
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries, , rinsed and picked over (about 4 cups)
- 1 medium apple, , peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch chunks
- In a medium saucepan, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, water and lemon juice until sugar dissolves over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, stir in the cinnamon, cranberries and apples. The mixture will momentarily stop boiling but when it returns to boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
- Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and let cool for 10 minutes. Then refrigerate until serving.
- Alternatively, this can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost fully before serving.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.