Orange and Ginger Spiced Cranberry Saucefeatured


Thanksgiving countdown has officially begun, and for the first time ever, I’m making the entire dinner on my own. Eeek. There are so many things I want to make. And there are expectations, you know. A juicy, golden, magnificent bird…stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, green beans, some more obligatory vegetables, pie, pie, pie…oh yeah, and prime rib (because that is how my family rolls).

If I’m going to pull this off I know it’s going to take some planning ahead. Luckily, Melissa Clark answered my prayers with this super helpful Seven-Day Plan for Thanksgiving. With this game plan by my side, I am actually starting to think I won’t be a hot mess come Turkey Day.

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Easy Cranberry Sauce

First up on my list of make-ahead dishes is Cranberry Sauce. Homemade cranberry sauce is crazy easy to make. I mean it. It is stone cold simple. Once you try it, I promise you will never buy the weird canned stuff again.

A few years ago I experimented with this recipe for Cranberry Jalapeno Relish with Lime and Cilantro. If you’re looking for not-yo-momma’s-cranberry-sauce, give this zesty little one a try. It’s got kick and is totally different. This year, however, I wanted to go with something more traditional…but not boring.

Ta-daa! This Orange and Ginger Spiced Cranberry Sauce came out exactly as I had hoped. The fragrance of the orange zest and orange juice complements the cranberries beautifully, and the warmth of the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves tones down the tartness of the sauce and spices it up a touch, while making your entire kitchen smell like the holidays!

Ok, are you ready for how easy this is to make?

Making cranberry sauce

Cranberries pulsed to a coarse chop

Step 1: Coarsely chop up the cranberries in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, or prefer a chunkier cranberry sauce, you can keep the cranberries whole. I like my cranberry sauce to have more of a jammy consistency so into the food pro they go.

Step 2: Dump all the ingredients into a saucepan and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

That’s it! You’re done. Really. See? This whole Thanksgiving Feast thing is going to be totally manageable…


Ruby red cranberries

Orange and Ginger Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Yield: 2 cups

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Homemade cranberry sauce is crazy easy to make. I mean it. It is stone cold simple. Once you try it, I promise you will never buy the weird canned stuff again. This cranberry sauce elevates the traditional version with the addition of fragrant orange zest and juice, ginger, and warm spices. I also have it on good authority that the addition of a glug or two of bourbon in this is fantastic, if you are cooking for a more grown-up crowd that is into that sort of thing.


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • * Optional: a glug or two of bourbon


  1. Pulse the cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Be careful not to over process because you don't want the berries pureed. If you don't have a food processor, you can opt for a chunkier cranberry sauce and just use the cranberries whole.
  2. Add all the ingredients to saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. Lower heat a bit to keep it at a nice simmer for about 20 minutes, until the cranberries have softened and the liquid has reduced to create a thick compote. If you are using whole cranberries, you'll hear them pop a bit "“ it's ok, that's what they do. Cool before serving. (Make-ahead note: Can be made days ahead before serving, I actually think it is even better that way. Keep refrigerated in an air-tight container and either warm up or bring to room temperature before serving.)

This post was originally published on KQED’s Bay Area Bites on November 16, 2011.

Add comment