Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving


There is nothing quite like homemade Cranberry Sauce made with whole spices, an apple cider reduction, chopped tart apple, fresh navel orange juice and zest, and sweetened just right, with a splash of Grand Marnier® orange brandy liqueur. Cranberry Sauce on Thanksgiving Day doesn’t get better than this!


  • For the Apple Cider Reduction
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) fresh apple cider
  • For the Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 large tart apple, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or McIntosh, peeled, cored and diced into ¼- to ½-inch pieces
  • Juice and zest from ½ medium to large navel orange
  • 3 cups (1 12-ounce/340-gram package) fresh whole cranberries, sorted, rinsed and dried
  • 1¼ cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of kosher salt, optional
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Grand Marnier® orange brandy liqueur
  • For the Optional Garnishes
  • Fresh orange zest strips
  • Fresh mint sprig


  1. Prepare the Apple Cider Reduction: In a medium-sized heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, bring apple cider to a boil. Boil until reduced to ¼ cup, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Prepare the Cranberry Sauce: To the saucepan with reduced apple cider, place the apples, orange juice and zest, cranberries, sugar, spices and, if using, salt.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer uncovered. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, the apple pieces are tender and cranberries have burst, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.
  4. If using whole spices rather than ground (see Notes section for directions), carefully remove cinnamon sticks and spice sachet using a slotted or wooden spoon and discard. Immediately, stir in the Grand Marnier® orange brandy liqueur until well blended.
  5. Carefully transfer the hot cranberry sauce to a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature before serving, at least 1 hour.
  6. To Serve the Cranberry Sauce: After cranberry sauce has cooled, transfer to a sauceboat with ladle to pass at the table. If desired, garnish with fresh orange zest strips and sprig of mint.

Recipe Notes


Cranberry sauce can be prepared up to three (3) days in advance. Cover and keep refrigerated. If desired, before serving, bring to room temperature and transfer to a sauceboat with ladle to pass at the table. Cranberry sauce may be served chilled or at room temperature.

For Non-Alcohol and Kid-Friendly Variation: Omit the brandy.

To Make Cranberry Sauce with Whole Spices: If you prefer to use whole spices versus ground, substitute the ground spices called for in the recipe with 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 whole cloves and 3 allspice berries. First, make a small sachet for the whole spices using cheesecloth and cotton string or butcher’s twine. (See directions below.) Add the cinnamon sticks to the saucepan with reduced apple cider along with the diced apple, orange juice and zest, cranberries, sugar and salt (if using) before cooking the sauce. Add spice sachet to cranberry sauce just as the sauce begins to simmer; stir. Remove after cooking per directions in the recipe.

How To Make a Spice Sachet: Start with a 4-inch square piece of cut cheesecloth. Place whole cloves and allspice berries (see quantities above) in center of cheesecloth square. Gather corners and tie securely with cotton string or butcher’s twine.

Recipe Adapted From: Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce from the cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Thanksgiving & Christmas, by Chuck Williams (1993).
Original Recipe Source: