Give that canned cranberry sauce the boot. Orange cranberry sauce has a wonderful balance of tart and sweet. Plus, it takes only minutes to make. Vegan & gluten-free side dish.
The eighties were a weird time for food.
With mashed potatoes made from dried flakes, gravy from a shelf-stable packet, and canned green beans covered in canned soup, you would think we were living in a post-apocalyptic world where fresh produce didn’t exist.
In those days, I only saw cranberries in a gelatinous cylinder, coming out of a tin can with its signature slurp-plop sound.
Truth be told, my ten-year-old self didn’t mind the cranberry log with the aluminum can marks still on its exterior.
But nowadays, it seems strange that there were so many shortcuts for foods that are simple to make. It’s not difficult to spend 15 minutes at the stove making cranberry sauce.
This orange cranberry sauce I’m sharing with you today uses orange juice and maple syrup for the liquid and to give some sweetness to tart cranberries.
With a bit of orange zest at the end, the citrus shines but doesn’t overpower. The orange juice and maple syrup mellows the mouth-puckering cranberries while not being overly sugary.
This is a great dish to make in advance of holiday gatherings, because it sets as it cools. It will last for 10 to 14 days in the refrigerator. (If you want to make it earlier than that, check out the freezing directions below.)
How to make it
Bring a pot to a medium-high heat with fresh or frozen cranberries, orange juice, and maple syrup. Allow it to simmer. Stir frequently.
After about seven minutes, the cranberries will start to pop. Keep stirring. Press on the cranberries with a spoon to help them pop open.
Cook for about 7 minutes more, while it reduces and thickens.
Add orange zest to the pot and stir.
Allow the pot to cool. Then refrigerate until ready to eat. As it cools, it will continue to thicken.
A few tips
Oranges vary in their sweetness. If you’d prefer a sweeter sauce, add another Tablespoon of maple syrup after the cranberries have popped. (Remember that the sauce will thicken as it cools. So it will be a little sweeter after it sets.)
Be sure to stir regularly, so that the maple syrup doesn’t burn.
I like to keep some of the cranberries whole for an eye-catching homemade touch. Plus, you get a burst of tart that’s really satisfying.
Should I use fresh or frozen cranberries?
What to serve with it
This sauce is an obvious choice to go alongside any of my favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes.
Add a schmear of sauce to a Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich.
Pour it onto roasted sweet potatoes during their last five minutes of cooking. It’s a tasty alternative to marshmallows, that other holiday curiosity.
Can you freeze homemade cranberry sauce?
Yes, it freezes beautifully. Simply put leftover sauce into a freezer proof container or freezer bag.
For best results, freeze for up to three months.
When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw in the refrigerator.
Orange cranberry sauce
- 8 ounces cranberries fresh or frozen
- ¾ cup orange juice Preferably freshly squeezed
- 6 Tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- In a medium sized pot, combine cranberries, orange juice, and maple syrup. Bring to a medium-high heat and allow the liquid to simmer. Stir frequently.
- After about 7 minutes, the cranberries will start to pop. (If it begins to splatter, lower the heat slightly.) Keep stirring and pressing on the cranberries with a spoon to help them open. Cook for about 7 more minutes, until the liquid has reduced and the sauce has thickened.
- Add zest to pot and stir to evenly distribute.
- Turn off the heat, and set the pot aside to cool.
- The sauce can be used right away, if you're in a rush or like a warm sauce. But for best results, refrigerate orange cranberry sauce in a covered container until ready to eat. As it cools, the sauce will continue to thicken.
Content and photos updated December 24, 2020. Originally posted November 25, 2015.