Tis the season for Cranberry Sauce. Here is how to make it.

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Cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving staple and often the only spot of brightness on a table full of brown, orange, and tan. While canned cranberry sauce is available year-round, fresh cranberries come to market in October, making it an ideal time to whip up a batch of this sauce — which is actually an entry-level jam — and have it waiting for your Thanksgiving table.

Even if you love the canned stuff, making homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving or Christmas is worth a go. It gives you control of how sweet or tart the final sauce is, and it’s remarkably easy to make.

  1. Zest and juice oranges: Use Valencia or navel oranges for their fresh citrus flavor.
  2. Simmer with sugar: Add the orange zest, juice, and sugar to a pot. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring to help the sugar dissolve.
  3. Cook the cranberries: Add the cranberries, then simmer for at least 10 minutes or until they burst to release their full gelling power.
  4. Let cool and serve: For a looser cranberry sauce, the sauce can be served warm. If you prefer a thicker (canned-like) consistency, cover and refrigerate overnight.
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

How to Serve Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a favorite at Thanksgiving since it’s a sweet-tart foil to a table filled with such rich flavor, but I have found that cranberry sauce is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day or even a few days after it is made. The sauce will gel as it cools and become sweeter.