This ultra-flavorful gourmet cranberry sauce is made with fresh cranberries, wine, cinnamon, and vanilla. This recipe is one of my family’s favorite holiday recipes! You can make this on the stovetop and even in your slow cooker. Canning is optional.
I don’t know what I like better about this mulled cranberry sauce: the scent of the cranberries simmering on the stove or the cinnamon and vanilla ‘notes’ in the cooked sauce.
This recipe is one of those recipes that makes the holidays seem like the holidays. Trust me, it does not disappoint!
What You’ll Love About This Recipe
- Super easy: This recipe is so simple and easy. It takes about 10 minutes to prep and then a long simmer time.
- Make it ahead: You can make this sauce the day before your Thanksgiving dinner, or you can make it earlier because it keeps well in the fridge and the freezer.
- Freezes well: This sauce freezes so well that you can even freeze it until next year if you have enough left over.
Cinnamon and vanilla add fantastic flavor to this homemade cranberry sauce. You’ll also use a full bottle of wine in this recipe. Of course, you’ll need the best ingredients to make the BEST cranberry sauce recipe.
- One bottle of red Zinfandel wine: Make sure it’s drinkable.
- Cranberries: 24 ounces of fresh or frozen cranberries. This is approximately 2 cartons or bags of fresh cranberries.
- Dried cherries: You can also use dried cranberries here, especially if you already have them in the pantry.
- Orange juice: Fresh squeezed orange juice and orange zest. You’ll need approximately 2 oranges, depending on how juicy they are.
- Vanilla bean: Look for whole vanilla beans in the spice section or the international cuisine aisle.
- Cinnamon stick
- Just a pinch of salt
You barely need a recipe to make fresh cranberry sauce. It’s as simple as adding all the ingredients to a medium saucepan and then cooking the sauce slowly. You can also use a slow cooker for this recipe.
Stovetop Instructions for Cranberry Sauce
- Add all ingredients, except the fresh cranberries, in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium and let the liquid simmer, stirring occasionally. In this step, you will dissolve the sugar and reduce the wine by half.
- Add the fresh cranberries and dried cherries once the sauce has been reduced. (You can use fresh or frozen cranberries.)
- Remove from heat and let the cranberries come to room temperature for 10 to 12 minutes. Store this sauce in the fridge overnight before serving.
How to make Cranberry Sauce in your Slow Cooker
- Add all ingredients, except fresh cranberries, in your slow cooker. Cook for 2 hours on high heat. If you are in a hurry, you can do this first step on the stovetop in about 20 minutes. Then, transfer everything to the slow cooker.
- Once the sauce has been reduced, add the fresh cranberries and dried cherries. (You can use fresh or frozen cranberries.) Note: Making this sauce in the slow cooker may yield a little thinner sauce than the stovetop version.
- Turn off the heat and remove the vanilla bean and the cinnamon stick. Let the sauce come to room temperature. Store the cooked sauce in the fridge overnight before serving.
FAQs and Expert Tips
This leftover sauce freezes beautifully. Store it in an airtight container and freeze it for next year’s festivities. I do not recommend using plastic bags, but jars work beautifully!
Cranberry sauce is served cold or at room temperature.
In the US, we eat cranberry sauce with turkey at Thanksgiving. In the UK, however, Cranberry relish is often served at Christmastime. Their version is also less sweet than the American version.
On meat: Cranberry sauce is also great with grilled meats such as chicken or pork.
As an appetizer: You can also serve it as an appetizer over cream cheese or brie, paired with your favorite crackers.
More Thanksgiving Recipes
Why not take a look at more of our favorite Thanksgiving Recipes? Find a new holiday favorite.
- Homemade Dumpling Noodles
- Green Bean Casserole — From Scratch
- Sage and Apple Sourdough Stuffing
- Spatchcock Turkey
- Dinner Rolls
- Pumpkin Pie
- Pecan Pie
Leftover Cranberry Sauce Recipes
Other Cranberry Recipes You Might Love
- Cranberry Champagne Cocktail
- Candied Orange and Cranberry Scones
- Apricot Cranberry Oat Bars
- Super Easy 5 Minute Cranberry Sauce
- Left Over Cranberry Sauce Oat Muffins
Slow-Cooked Mulled Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- 1 bottle red zinfandel wine
- 24 oz fresh cranberries, approximately 2 standard bags
- ½ cup dried cherries, or cranberries
- 2 cups sugar (affiliate link)
- ¾ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed, 1 to 2 oranges
- 1 tablespoon orange zest, grated, approximately one orange
- 1 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Combine all of the ingredients, except for the fresh cranberries, in a non-reactive 3 quart saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer until volume is reduced by half.
- Add the fresh cranberries and the dried cherries. Continue to simmer until the berries change color and burst.
- Remove the cranbery sauce from heat. Stir gently with a whisk to break up the berries.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and the vanilla bean.
- Let stand at room temperature until cool. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
Laura’s Tips + Notes
How to make Cranberry Sauce in your Slow Cooker
- Add all of the ingredients, except for the fresh cranberries, to your slow cooker. Cook for 2 hours on high heat. If you are in a hurry, you can also do this first step on the stovetop in about 20 minutes and then transfer everything to the slow cooker.
- Once the sauce has been reduced, add the fresh cranberries. (You can use fresh or frozen cranberries.) Note: Making this sauce in the slow cooker may yield a sauce that is a little thinner than the stovetop version.
- Turn off the heat and remove the vanilla bean and the cinnamon stick. Let the sauce come to room temperature. Store your homemade cranberry sauce in the fridge overnight before serving.
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