Cranberry Sauce With An Orange Twist

Cranberry sauce deserves our respect on the Thanksgiving table. In an otherwise heavy meal, it’s one of the only sources of acidity—much needed to balance out all that salt and fat.

While many people are nostalgic for the prepackaged cranberry sauce right out of the can, making your own is far easier than you’d think. It comes together with little work and stays in the fridge for days, so you don’t have to worry about wasting more stove space on Thanksgiving Day.

Our version incorporates both Grand Marnier and fresh orange—which, believe it or not, is in season this time of year—for a one-two punch of booziness and brightness. And if you’re fond of the jiggly canned stuff, this recipe gets you that delightful consistency with a healthy helping of sugar, no gelatin required. (If you’re brave, you can even shape it in a jello mold.)

This recipe makes a lot of sauce, but that’s not by accident. In our house, no Thanksgiving is complete without making cranberry sauce muffins the next day.

Cranberry Sauce

  • 1.5 pounds cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups water 
  • 3 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 seedless orange
  • Half an orange rind, pith removed and sliced into small slivers
  • Juice of 1 lime (fresh)
  • 2 ounces Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

In a medium stockpot, place cranberries in water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and simmer 5-8 minutes.

For the orange, slice off the rind and pith (the white part) with a sharp knife. Chop the insides into small chunks and add to the pot of cranberries. Take the orange rind, remove any pith that’s left, and slice into small slivers. Place in a small airtight container—you’ll use this for the topping later.

Into the stockpot, pour 3 cups of sugar, the orange liqueur, and lime juice, and stir until combined. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture gets thick. (If you like a saucier cranberry, uh, sauce, you can cook it for more like 20-30 minutes.) Be careful not to splash—it will stain! 

Remove from heat. When cool, transfer to a heatproof bowl, cover and refrigerate for several hours, or preferably overnight. 

Just before serving, toss the slivers of orange rind with 1 tablespoon of sugar until completely coated. Garnish the sauce with the orange, and enjoy cold.

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