Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce recipes

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thanksgiving cranberry sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas


We’re kicking off our first special series here, and for the next week or so, we’ll try to give you all you need to host the perfect Thanksgiving dinner! From how to truss, roast, and carve that turkey, to all kinds of magnificent sides and luscious desserts, plus a game plan to help you put it all together—we’ve got you covered. And we’re starting with one of the most overlooked components of the meal: cranberry sauce for that beautiful turkey. We hope you enjoy the series! —PW Food & Friends

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

I wasn’t sold on cranberry sauce until my friend Jess visited me for Thanksgiving many years ago and insisted we must have it on the table and must cook it homemade. Oh that girl, she changed my life. Now I always have to make extra because I find myself sneaking to the fridge to eat spoonfuls of it in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

As a child, all I knew was the jellied cranberry that came in a can, and it was more something I wanted to play with than eat. The entertaining suction noise it made coming out of the can, the endless finger-poking I did to muse at its jiggliness … that was about the extent of my cranberry sauce experience.

Now I dare say it is one of my favorite and most essential parts of the Thanksgiving feast. The texture of the popped cranberries, the subtle hints of cinnamon and orange, how the tanginess and sweetness hit you at the same time. It’s grand. And so easy! It’s the first thing I make for Thanksgiving, usually a couple days ahead.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

Start by sorting through the cranberries. You’ll want to pick out any mushy, shriveled ones, like this.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

I find there’s usually only a small handful of rejects in a bag.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

Also make sure that if you come across any cranberries with a stem, pick them off and discard.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

Give the sorted cranberries a good rinse with cold water, and drain.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

As a helping friend to the cranberry sauce, you’ll need some fresh citrus. In my opinion, orange is a lot better than lemon for cranberry sauce, and I also like to use something more interesting than an ordinary Navel orange. Some of my personal favorites are clementines, on the left here, or even better, satsumas, on the right. But, let’s not get fussy here. Any orange or tangerine that you like will do!

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

Use a zester to take off some of that fresh orange zest.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

Then cut the citrus in half to squeeze out some fresh juice.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

Beautiful!

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, some granulated sugar, and a cinnamon stick.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

Give this all a stir.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

Put a lid on the pot, then cook the cranberries over medium heat for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the sauce will look loose and liquidy, and have a deep purple grape color.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

But, as the cranberry sauce cools, you’ll see it clump and thicken up like crazy, as you can see here.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

After the sauce has cooled completely, you can add additional water to create the sauciness and thinness of your liking. This right here is perfect for me.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

© Joanne Ozug | Fifteen Spatulas

The cranberry sauce can be served chilled or at room temperature, and it will keep in the fridge for several days. Enjoy! And have a glorious Thanksgiving feast!

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