A cranberry sauce that people will want to eat! It’s packed with fresh orange, lemon, and a hint of apple for a sweet and refreshing accompaniment to heavier meals. This recipe uses gelatin to thicken it and give it a slightly jellied texture.
I made this cranberry sauce for our big family Thanksgiving last year and it solidified its place as my thing to bring to Thanksgiving for probably the rest of my life.
And cranberry sauce is not even that popular! In an informal survey that I’ve been casually conducting for the past 5 years, when asked what is your least favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? one of the more popular responses is: “cranberry sauce.”
Which I get. Cranberry sauce can be so sad coming from a can. How can it possibly compete with a delicious roasted bird or creamy mashed potatoes or (my favorite) the crispy cornbread dressing. The fact that people even let it take up precious real estate on their plates is a true nod to tradition.
Allow me to defend cranberry sauce. All the savory turkey and potatoes need a little bit of sweet. It is the perfect counterbalance to the otherwise very heavy Thanksgiving meal. A little burst of something sweet, citrusy, refreshing, and cold. Plus! It’s a nice colorful break in a very beige meal.
And this one is GOOD. You will probably want it in your life even when it’s not Thanksgiving. It is sweet with the tiniest bit of tartness from the cranberries; bursting with refreshing citrus; and just a little bit jellied.
If you’re volunteering to take something to a Thanksgiving get together, this is probably the easiest thing! It comes together in about half an hour, can be made DAYS ahead, and travels really well.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE CRANBERRY SAUCE
This recipe calls for fresh cranberries, but frozen will work just as well.
Combine cranberries in a saucepan with sugar and water and bring to a boil. After about 5 minutes, add in diced apple, orange zest + juice, and lemon zest + juice. Simmer it all together for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is softened.
In a separate bowl, sprinkle a packet of gelatin over water. Allow it to soften for about a minute, then add it to the hot cranberry mixture and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Transfer to the fridge to cool completely.
It’s so easy!
JELLIED CRANBERRY SAUCE
This cranberry sauce has the best flavor, but I think my very favorite thing about it may be the texture. It’s slightly jellied – just enough to give it some body. It won’t be so firm that you’ll be able to slice it, so fear not if you have nightmares about the log that is the canned variety!
In truth, I had been attempting a cranberry mold when I first made this. I’d been envisioning a charmingly retro cranberry display gracing our Thanksgiving buffet, but discovered upon unmolding that I had not used enough gelatin to achieve the necessary firmness. (I’ll let you imagine how disastrous this unmolding was.)
But it was even better! There’s just enough gelatin to thicken it up, without turning it into a solid block. You can spread it or dip into it.
The longer it’s refrigerated, the firmer it gets. I’d recommend making it at least two days ahead for optimal texture.
WHAT TO DO WITH CRANBERRY SAUCE WHEN IT’S NOT THANKSGIVING
- Make it an appetizer! Spread it on crostini with cheese or put it on your next cheese board.
- Eat it with pork loin.
- Use it as a condiment for leftover turkey sandwiches.
- Top your ice cream with it.
- Make a delicious yogurt parfait with it for breakfast.
- Use it instead of jam as a cake filling.
LEFTOVERS + STORAGE
Leftovers will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.
You can also freeze homemade cranberry sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Allow a couple of days in the fridge to thaw before using.
- 1 (12 ounce) bag of cranberries (fresh or frozen will work)
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 (1/4 ounce envelope) unflavored gelatin
- Combine the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat and cook until the skins begin to burst – about 5 minutes. Reduce to simmer. Stir in the apple, zests, and juices and cook 15 more minutes, until cranberries and apples are completely softened. Remove from heat.Place 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over top and let soften for 1 minute. Stir into the cranberry mixture until gelatin dissolves. Cool completely, and serve chilled.