Is anyone else a huge “Friends” fan? Do you remember the Thanksgiving episode during the last season where Chandler offers to help Monica cook dinner, and she responds, “The cranberry sauce — it’s easy to make, and no one really cares about it.” I always laugh, but at the same time, I’m think, “Awww, really?” Because I’ll go ahead and brag: My spiced-brandied cranberry sauce is awesome, and it’s a must-have for your Thanksgiving table.
In fact, I’ve been making this spiced-brandied cranberry sauce for years, and it’s always met with rave reviews. Friends and family who have tasted it have told me it’s the best cranberry sauce they’ve ever tried. Some have even told me that they don’t normally like cranberry sauce but love this recipe.
For this spiced-brandied cranberry sauce, we use a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to give it a special kick. We also use dark brown sugar, which has a rich molasses flavor to give this sauce depth, along with orange juice and zest for a touch of brightness. And, of course, we can’t forget the brandy because cooking with alcohol is always more fun.
See? Everything about this spiced-brandied cranberry sauce is delicious. No disrespect to Monica, but it’s time to start giving cranberry sauce more love.
How to Make Spiced-Brandied Cranberry Sauce
As if being delicious weren’t enough, this cranberry sauce is also ridiculously simple to make. So let’s get to it, shall we?
To start, we bring orange juice, dark brown sugar, white sugar and a mix of warm holiday spices to a boil and then give it a couple minutes to simmer. You can use an orange juice with or without pulp. I’ve used both types and haven’t noticed in a difference in the final product, so pick the type you like.
From here, we add a bag of fresh cranberries and let them boil until they break down. Once the cranberries thicken to a gel-like consistency, we turn off the heat and stir in orange zest, lemon juice and a punch of brandy. For zesting, I love to use a microplane grater. I find it’s more efficient and easier on the fingers than a traditional zester. If you don’t have one, I included a link below.
And that’s it! You can either serve this super easy cranberry sauce recipe warm or chilled. I like it both ways, but for Thanksgiving dinner, I prefer it warm. For a warm cranberry sauce, you can obviously serve it right away, or you can gently reheat it on the stove or in the microwave.
Perfect Pairing for Spiced-Brandied Cranberry Sauce
Rather than give pairings for this specific cranberry sauce, let me offer you options that work well with an entire Thanksgiving meal. If you’re reaching for a beer, I recommend a bière de garde, which is a French-style farmhouse ale. Bière de garde pairs beautifully with roasted meat and savory herbs, so it’s a great match with everything on your Thanksgiving plate. Plus, bière de garde is bold enough to stand up to each dish with plenty of carbonation to cleanse your palate between bites.
However, if you feel like a glass of wine, I love a pinot noir with Thanksgiving dinner. Pinot noir is on the fruity side, which naturally matches the cranberry sauce while offering contrast to the more savory dishes. I also love that pinot noir boasts plenty of acidity to help cut through all those hefty sides and turkey.
With the holidays upon us, I hope you add this spiced-brandied cranberry sauce to your dinner table. I promise this recipe will be your new favorite cranberry sauce. Please let me know how you enjoyed this spiced-brandied cranberry sauce recipe in the comment section and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. You can also catch me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
Looking for More Thanksgiving Recipes? Try These Burrata and Bubbles Dishes.
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- Professional Zester, Grater, Rasp by Integrity Chef – Antibacterial Cover, Ergonomic, Non-Slip Grip Handle, Premium Grade Stainless Steel, Citrus, Cheese, Lemon, Ginger, Chocolate
- Calphalon Classic Nonstick Sauce Pan with Cover, 2.5 Quart, Grey
- Wooden Spoon, Faay Premium Cooking Spoon, Mixing Spoon Handcraft from Teak | Natural, Non Toxic and High Heat Resistance for Non Stick Cookware
This spiced-brandied cranberry sauce with fresh orange zest is not only the best cranberry recipe you’ll ever try but it’s also simple to make.
1 cup orange juice
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
1 12-ounce bag of cranberries
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Zest from an orange
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring orange juice, sugars and spices to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the mixture simmers and stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Bring heat back up to medium-high and add cranberries. Boil the cranberries until they pop and the mixture thickens to a gel-like, jammy consistency. Stir occasionally.
- Remove from heat and stir in brandy, lemon juice and orange zest. You can serve it warm or cold. Enjoy!
- Category: Sides
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving recipe, Thanksgiving side dish