Brandied Cranberry Sauce

Brandied Cranberry Sauce

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Brandied cranberry sauce has changed the way I feel about cranberry sauce forever! It’s practically bursting with warm spice, zesty oranges with sweetness from brown sugar and brandy. This side dish should be a must at your holiday table this year.

Every time I think of jellied cranberry sauce from the can, I flashback to my childhood. It takes me back to meals at my grandmama’s house where the whole family gathered for the holidays. Jellied cranberry sauce always seemed to make an appearance on the buffet line of food on the kitchen counter.

I remember putting a slice of cranberry sauce on my plate, but even more so the torcher I put myself through trying to eat it. It was so good until that bitter aftertaste hit.

bowl of brandied cranberry sauce with mountain view

Oh, how that stuff put my tastebuds on a rollercoaster.

YUM!!!!….noooooo…. YUM!!!!… noooooo…. Eventually, I gave up trying to like cranberry sauce. Bleh!

Now that I’m older and after having the whole berry cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving this year I decided to make homemade cranberry sauce for the first time. David loves cranberry sauce, even the jellied stuff out of the can. He always requests it with roasted chicken so I knew he’d eat it up no matter how it turned out.

However, I decided to kick it up a notch by adding brandy to it because I figure a little booze was just what cranberry sauce needs. I was so right! This boozy cranberry sauce comes together in just 20 minutes.

Let’s make some brandied cranberry sauce!

ingredients to make recipe

Ingredients Needed For Brandied Cranberry Sauce

  • Fresh Cranberries – you can use frozen, but this time of year you can find fresh ones in abundance at the store. Keep in mind if you use frozen cranberries you will probably have to simmer them a little longer than you will fresh ones.
  • Water – cranberries need plenty of liquid to cook in. Water is neutral and will not overpower the cranberry sauce with too much flavor.
  • Oranges – squeeze the orange juice yourself, but make sure you zest them before juicing. It should take a couple of oranges.
  • Sugar – I used a combination of regular granulated sugar and brown sugar for more flavor.
  • Spice – a couple of cinnamon sticks provide warmth and a nice depth of flavor. It screams holiday!
  • Vanilla Extract – a little vanilla extract just combines all the ingredients together nicely and just has the best aroma. Don’t skip it!
  • Brandy – Booze takes cranberry sauce to the next level. If you don’t have brandy, rum, port, or bourbon will also work.
close up of cranberry sauce

How To Make Brandied Cranberry Sauce

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries, water, orange zest, orange juice, both sugars, and cinnamon sticks. 
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Be careful! Watch the cranberries closely. They can bubble up and could possibly boil over if you are not watching them. 
  • Simmer the cranberry mixture for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the brandy and continue to simmer until cranberries begin to burst and the sauce reduces slightly; about 5 more minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the cranberry sauce.
  • Stir in the vanilla extract and allow the sauce to cool and thicken up; 30 minutes.

Storage:

  • Refrigerator: Store the cranberry sauce in the refrigerator inside an airtight container for up to 10 days.
  • Freezer: Sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. Place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw when you are ready to use it.

WATCH HOW TO MAKE BRANDIED CRANBERRY SAUCE:

bowl of sauce with mountain view

Tips For Making Cranberry Sauce

  • Naturally Thick: There is no need to add cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Cranberries thicken up beautifully and naturally.
  • Make-Ahead: Make the cranberry sauce the day ahead. Personally, I think it’s just better when it’s cold all the way through. I believe you will like it that way too.
  • Frozen Cranberries: If you are using frozen cranberries there is no need to defrost them, but you will have to adjust the cooking time to allow them to thaw.
  • Listen! When the cranberries are about done, you can hear them start to burst. This will tell you how done they are. If you want more whole berries, then turn off the heat after you hear a few of them burst. Leave them on longer for a less chunky cranberry sauce.
  • Add Vanilla After Cooking: wait and add the vanilla extract after the sauce cools a few minutes. Vanilla contains alcohol. If it cooks the heat will cause it to evaporate and it will not taste as strong.
  • Orange Zest: Use a Microplane to zest the orange that goes into the sauce. This way you won’t end up chewing on large strands of zest. Use a zester to zest orange peel for garnish.
spoonful of cranberry sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce is so much better than that stuff you buy out of the can. This sauce has the perfect balance of sweetness and tang.

I’m sure you will love it too!

brandied cranberry sauce
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Brandied Cranberry Sauce

Brandied cranberry sauce is a holiday side dish bursting with warm spice, zesty oranges with sweetness from brown sugar and brandy.
Course Condiment, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword cranberry, Sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 115kcal

Useful Equipment:

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces cranberries (1 bag), fresh, rinsed
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries, water, orange zest, orange juice, both sugars, and cinnamon sticks.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Be careful! Watch the cranberries closely. They can bubble up and could possibly boil over if you are not watching them. 
  • Simmer the cranberry mixture for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the brandy and continue to simmer until cranberries begin to burst and the sauce reduces slightly; about 5 more minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the cranberry sauce.
  • Stir in the vanilla extract and allow the sauce to cool and thicken up; 30 minutes.

Video

Notes

Storage:
  • Refrigerator: Store the cranberry sauce in the refrigerator inside an airtight container for up to 10 days.
  • Freezer: Sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. Place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw when you are ready to use it.
Naturally Thick: There is no need to add cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Cranberries thicken up beautifully and naturally.
Make-Ahead: Make the cranberry sauce the day ahead. Personally, I think it’s just better when it’s cold all the way through. I believe you will like it that way too.
Frozen Cranberries: If you are using frozen cranberries there is no need to defrost them, but you will have to adjust the cooking time to allow them to thaw.
Listen! When the cranberries are about done, you can hear them start to burst. This will tell you how done they are. If you want more whole berries, then turn off the heat after you hear a few of them burst. Leave them on longer for a less chunky cranberry sauce.
Add Vanilla After Cooking: wait and add the vanilla extract after the sauce cools a few minutes. Vanilla contains alcohol. If it cooks the heat will cause it to evaporate and it will not taste as strong.
Orange Zest: Use a Microplane to zest the orange that goes into the sauce. This way you won’t end up chewing on large strands of zest. Use a zester to zest orange peel for garnish.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 115kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 85mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 57IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
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    1 thought on “Brandied Cranberry Sauce”

    • You got me, referring to a slice of cranberry sauce!!! Then I remembered my first experience with it in college, when I went to a roomate’s home for Thanksgiving. Ugh. Making your own is so fun because it’s really versatile. I’ve made so many variations I can’t count. Port is a good addition, and various fruits. So much fun. Yours looks beautiful!

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