This Bourbon cranberry sauce is a delightful twist on the classic recipe, bringing together a blend of Bourbon, orange, and spices to create a sauce that's both sweet and tart with a hint of spicy warmth. It's the perfect complement to the rich and savory flavors of a turkey, ham, pork roast, or charcuterie.
This Amazing Cranberry Sauce Is Sure to Become A Favorite Holiday Recipe
Holiday time is nearly here, and it's time to prepare for some of the most awaited meals of the year. This amazing holiday dish will have everyone at your Thanksgiving table asking for seconds. Bourbon Cranberry Sauce is the perfect side dish to complement your Thanksgiving feast, and it's sure to become one of your favorite cranberry recipes. Let's face it, the side dishes are everyone's favorite things in a holiday meal! All Thanksgiving week I look forward to the dressing and the sweet potatoes as much as the main dish!
One of the best things about the holidays is the food, and cranberry sauce is a must-have on the dinner table. But forget about that canned stuff – we're taking a step up with our own cranberry sauce, and we're adding a little bit of Kentucky Bourbon to make it extra special. This easy recipe is full of simple ingredients that will complement your other side dishes and may become a new family tradition.
It's as American as Apple Pie
The earliest recipe for homemade cranberry sauce appears in the first known cookbook written by an American author in the late 1700's. It has been a holiday staple side dish in the U.S. as well as in the U.K. and Europe for many years. The canned variety of cranberry sauce became available in the 1940's, and was a popular side dish of mid century Thanksgiving dinners. However, the canned sauce fell out of favor and kept many from being a fan of cranberry sauce.
This twist on a traditional cranberry sauce marries a hint of citrus flavor with a hint of Bourbon flavor, and will make a welcome addition to your holiday table.
Ingredients Needed for Making Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
This easy Bourbon Cranberry Sauce combines tart cranberries with the zesty flavor of fresh orange zest and the sweetness of brown sugar. It only take a few ingredients to make this delicious sauce:
- Kentucky Bourbon (I like Buffalo Trace for a good everyday Bourbon--it doesn't have to be top shelf)
- White sugar (cane sugar)
- Cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon if you don't have a stick)
Some cooks prefer to add some orange juice, lime zest or orange slices, but I like to keep it simple. Last year I tried the lime zest and it was too bitter for me; I prefer the recipe as written, with orange. Stick with the basics when you're cooking a holiday meal -- it gives you one less thing to worry about!
The alcohol cooks off, leaving behind the incredible caramel flavor of the Bourbon (the best part!) that will take your cranberry sauce to the next level.
How to Make the Sauce
This delicious side dish is actually pretty simple to make, even if it's your first time. Just follow these simple steps for success:
- Wash and rinse the fresh cranberries in a little bit of water and set aside to dry.
- Pour the water into a 1-quart saucepan and heat on medium heat to bring to a boil.
- Add the sugar and stir to ensure it gets dissolved all the way. Set to medium-low heat to simmer.
- Add the cinnamon sticks and Bourbon and continue stirring.
- Add the whole cranberries. After a few minutes you'll hear the cranberries pop while cooking down. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep cooking and stirring.
- Add in some orange zest, keeping some aside for later.
- Cook 15-20 minutes or until all of the cranberries have broken up and the sauce thickens (if it gets too thick, you can always add a little water.) The cranberries will naturally burst as they cook, so no need to use a potato masher or food processor.
- Remove from heat and let sit until the sauce cools. Drain any excess cranberry juice. Place in a baking dish or bowl to serve.
Tips for a Successful Bourbon Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make this side dish:
- Cook with fresh cranberries if possible. It can be a challenge to find them in grocery stores out of season, so substitute with frozen if necessary.
- Always use quality Bourbon when cooking. Our rule of thumb is that if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it. Inferior whiskeys can taste harsh and leave an unpleasant taste rather than complementing your dish.
- Serve orange Bourbon cranberry sauce over some vanilla ice cream for a delicious desert treat at the end of a long Thanksgiving day.
- Store leftover cranberry sauce in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. It can be served warm, chilled, or at room temperature.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is no best Bourbon to use. I prefer a smooth, wheated bourbon like Maker's Mark or Buffalo Trace for cooking. Any Bourbon that you personally enjoy will make the best cranberry sauce. Blanton's makes an export-only Gold edition that, if you can find it, is very smooth. Feel free to experiment with other types of whiskey to find one you prefer -- you don't have to use the expensive stuff!
Yes, you could use a rye whiskey which would give the dish a spicier taste. I'd stay away from rum since it will already have enough sugar added to the recipe and can affect the flavor profile by making it taste on the sweet side.
Yes, there are many delicious recipes! Some people like to create a vanilla Bourbon cranberry sauce by adding vanilla extract and using vanilla bean pods as a garnish. Others like to add extra Bourbon to make boozy cranberry sauces. You can also make a maple Bourbon cranberry sauce with maple syrup as the sweetener rather than sugar. I prefer this simple recipe because it's fast and easy for the holidays, but go ahead and put your own spin on it!
We hope this Bourbon orange cranberry sauce will be a favorite addition to your Thanksgiving dinner. While you're at it, try these other popular holiday dishes: roasted pork tenderloin, broccoli and cheese casserole, and Southern cornbread dressing.
Bourbon Cranberry Sauce With Orange Zest
- 4 cups cranberries
- 1 cup water
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1.5 ounces Bourbon
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- Wash and rinse the cranberries and set aside to dry.
- Pour the water into a large saucepan. Stir in 2-½ cups of sugar.
- Add the cinnamon sticks. Bring to boil and stir until all sugar has been dissolved.
- Add the Bourbon.
- Add the cranberries to the boiling water. After about 3-5 minutes you should hear the cranberries start to 'pop'. Reduce the heat and simmer, and the sauce will begin to thicken. Stir frequently to ensure the sauce does not stick to the pan.
- Add in the orange zest, leaving a small amount aside to use as garnish.
- Cook 25-30 minutes, until the cranberries have broken down and the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and take out the cinnamon sticks. Let cool.
- Place in a serving dish and garnish with orange zest.