Orange Cranberry Sauce
Oct 26, 2023
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Orange Cranberry Sauce is a delightful and vibrant condiment often served as part of traditional holiday meals, particularly at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a refreshing blend of sweet and tart flavors that can cut through the richness of other dishes on the table, such as roast turkey, ham, or mashed potatoes.
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Homemade Cranberry Jelly with Orange
The primary ingredients are cranberries and orange juice, and often orange zest as well. The sauce is usually sweetened with sugar, although some recipes may use honey or other sweeteners.
To make Orange Cranberry Sauce, fresh or frozen cranberries are typically simmered in orange juice until they burst and release their pectin, which thickens the sauce. Sugar and orange zest are added for sweetness and a bit of a citrusy kick.
The resulting sauce has a chunky, jelly-like consistency with a balance of tart and sweet flavors and a touch of bitterness from the cranberries. The addition of orange provides a zesty and fragrant counterpoint to the cranberries. This sauce can be served warm or chilled.
The simplicity of this dish allows for many variations, such as the addition of spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, or other fruits like apples or pears. It can also be used in a variety of ways beyond the holiday table, such as a topping for desserts, mixed into yogurt, or even as a spread on sandwiches.
How to Make Orange Cranberry Sauce
To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:
- ¾ cup orange juice: The orange juice provides both liquid to help cook the cranberries and natural sweetness. It also lends a bright, citrusy flavor that complements the tartness of the cranberries.
- ½ cup sugar: This sweetens the sauce, helping to balance the tart, bitter flavors of the cranberries.
- 5 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries: These are the star of the dish, providing a vibrant color and a unique, tart flavor. When they cook, they burst and release their natural pectin, which helps thicken the sauce.
- Zest of one orange: The orange zest adds an additional layer of citrus flavor that’s a bit more complex than the juice. It also adds lovely specks of color and enhances the aroma of the sauce.
- Pinch salt: While it may seem minor, the salt actually enhances all the other flavors in the sauce, making the sweet sweeter and the tart tarter. It also helps to balance the overall flavor profile.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following process:
- Boil. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the orange juice and sugar. Stir them together until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries to the saucepan. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt to balance out the sweetness. Cook over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This simmering process will allow the cranberries to break down. You can also press the cranberries with the back of a wooden spoon. As the sauce thickens, you can adjust the sweetness or tanginess to suit your preference.
- Serve. Remove the saucepan from heat. Grate the orange zest into the saucepan and stir. Allow the sauce to cool slightly before transferring it to a serving bowl.
Tips and Tricks to Perfect Orange Cranberry Sauce
Use Fresh Orange Juice: If possible, use fresh-squeezed orange juice instead of store-bought. The flavor is brighter and will make a noticeable difference in your sauce.
Add the Zest: Don’t skip the orange zest—it provides an important flavor boost and depth that just the juice alone won’t provide.
Watch Your Sugar: Cranberries are very tart, so while you might be tempted to add more sugar, resist the urge. Too much sugar can overpower the natural tartness of the cranberries that makes this sauce so refreshing.
Cooking Time: Be mindful not to overcook the cranberries. You want them to burst and release their pectin, which will thicken the sauce, but not to the point where they become mushy and lose their shape entirely.
Cooling: The sauce will thicken as it cools, so don’t worry if it seems a bit thin when it’s hot. Give it time to cool and set.
Experiment with Flavors: Feel free to experiment by adding a cinnamon stick, some cloves, a splash of vanilla extract, or a bit of ginger for a different flavor profile.
Make Ahead: One of the great things about cranberry sauce is that it can be made a few days ahead of time. This not only saves you time on the day you plan to serve it, but it also allows the flavors to meld together more fully. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Use Leftovers Creatively: Leftover cranberry sauce can be used in a variety of ways. Consider using it as a spread on a turkey sandwich, a yogurt mix-in, or even as a topping for pancakes or waffles.
Dried cranberries won’t work in this recipe because they won’t break down and release pectin the way fresh or frozen cranberries will.
Yes, you can use a different type of sugar. Brown sugar can add a molasses-like depth of flavor, and honey or maple syrup can add their own unique flavors. Just be aware that using a liquid sweetener may alter the consistency of your sauce.
Orange Cranberry Sauce will last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container. You can also freeze it for longer storage.
Absolutely! In fact, making this sauce a day or two in advance can allow the flavors to meld together even more. Just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
Leftover cranberry sauce can be used in a variety of ways! It’s great on sandwiches, in yogurt, on top of pancakes or waffles, or even mixed into a vinaigrette for salad.
Definitely! Feel free to experiment with additional flavors. Some people add a splash of bourbon or Grand Marnier, some whole spices like cinnamon or star anise, or other fruits like chopped apples or pears.
Leftover cranberry sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
What to Serve With Cranberry Orange Sauce
Roasted Meats: This is the most common pairing. Cranberry sauce is a classic accompaniment for roast turkey and ham. The tartness of the sauce helps cut through the richness of the meat. It can also be served with chicken, pork, or even game meats like venison.
Stuffing/Dressing: The sweet and tart flavors of cranberry sauce make it a great partner for savory stuffing or dressing.
Cheeses: Cranberry sauce can work really well on a cheese board. It pairs particularly well with brie, goat cheese, and cheddar.
Sandwiches: Spread some cranberry sauce on a leftover turkey or chicken sandwich for a delicious twist.
Grains: Add some cranberry sauce to quinoa or wild rice for a fruity, tangy kick.
Roasted Vegetables: Drizzle some cranberry sauce over roasted brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes.
Breakfast Dishes: Swirl some cranberry sauce into yogurt, oatmeal, or spread it on toast or bagels. It can also be served alongside pancakes, waffles, or French toast.
Desserts: Use it as a topping for vanilla ice cream or cheesecake.
Check out of some our other favorite’s sauce’s next:
Orange Cranberry Sauce Recipe
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- ¾ cup orange juice
- ½ cup sugar
- 5 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
- Zest of one orange
- Pinch salt
- In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the orange juice and sugar. Stir them together until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the cranberries to the saucepan. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt to balance out the sweetness.
- Cook over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil
- Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This simmering process will allow the cranberries to break down. You can also press the cranberries with the back of a wooden spoon.
- As the sauce thickens, you can adjust the sweetness or tanginess to suit your preference.
- Remove the saucepan from heat. Grate the orange zest into the saucepan and stir. Allow the sauce to cool slightly before transferring it to a serving bowl.
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 130Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 24mgCarbohydrates 33gFiber 4gSugar 25gProtein 1g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.