Every year, one of the first things I make for the big Thanksgiving feast is cranberry sauce. For one, I usually like to create a new recipe or two for here on the blog. But also, homemade cranberry sauce freezes stunningly, so it’s a super easy thing to make weeks (or even months!) ahead of time, then I freeze it and forget about until Thanksgiving.
This year, I thought I’d try something a little different. See, I’ve gotten to the point to where I rarely use granulated sugar any more, instead sweetening my recipes with pure maple syrup or honey. I know that syrup and honey are still sugar – just different kinds of it – but I feel better using more natural forms as opposed to the refined stuff. Baby steps.
Conveniently, pure maple syrup is so quintessentially “fall” that it goes perfectly in a myriad of seasonally appropriate recipes. Like: Maple Orange Cranberry Sauce!
First off, a disclaimer. You actually can’t really taste much of the maple syrup in this recipe – just a hint. Part of the reason is because cranberries have such strong flavor that they overpower any maple subtleties. The other reason is that I use Grade A syrup, which is much lighter than the more-intense and much more flavorful Grade B. So keep that in mind if you make this cranberry sauce recipe.
The orange and the cinnamon, on the other hand, you can definitely taste – though not in an overpowering way. Orange zest and juice highlight the best of the cranberries. Meanwhile, simmering the sauce with a stick of cinnamon adds another festive note.
Make it now, freeze it for later. That’s the very best thing about homemade cranberry sauce – other than the fact that it tastes incredible, of course!
Orange Maple Cranberry Sauce
- 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup + more if needed
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup water
- Cinnamon stick
- Rinse the cranberries. Discard any mushy or underripe berries and stems.
- Place a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and add the cranberries, 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, water, and cinnamon stick. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue boiling over medium heat until the berries burst and break down, forming a sauce, 15-20 minutes.
- Taste for sweetness. If it's too tart, add more syrup - a tablespoon at a time - until the sauce tastes sweet enough for you.
- Remove from the heat and let cool. Spoon into your serving container to serve or store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for 3-4 days. You can also freeze your cranberry sauce for up to 2 months - I do this every Thanksgiving! Just place the sauce in an airtight container or zipper freezer bag and transfer to the freezer. Move to the fridge to thaw about 24-48 hours before the big meal.