Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Mandarin Oranges

I took the classic cranberry sauce and warmed it up with oranges and spices for a lovely fall flavor.

Cranberry sauce is probably one of the easiest Thanksgiving sides to make and such an important part of the holiday meal.

Not only is it simple, it can be made in advance and chilled in the fridge for several days or frozen up to a few months. This saves valuable time during what is normally a very hectic week of cooking!

A basic cranberry sauce usually consists of 3 ingredients: fresh cranberries, water, and cane sugar.

I take mine up a notch by adding mandarins, maple syrup and brown sugar, and warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

These spices are commonly used in Indian curries as well as in chai. They bring in a little heat without being over powering.

I also like to use the whole mandarins pieces, not just the juice, because I don’t want to lose the nutritious pulp.

I puree the slices using an immersion blender and some water. If you don’t have a blender, finely chop or mash them making sure there aren’t any large stringy pieces.

Once the cranberries and mandarins have cooked down to a bubbling jammy sauce, I add in some dried fruit. It’s optional but my kids love it.

how to make spiced cranberry sauce

Start by puréing 2 small mandarins in a blender with enough water to make 1/2 a cup. I used a handheld immersion blender but a regular blender will also work.

Alternatively, finely chop or mash the orange slices. Then add enough water so you have 1/2 a cup of pulp.

Add the orange puree/pulp to a saucepan along with 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, 2-4 tablespoons each of brown sugar and maple syrup, and a little ground cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves.

Small pot with Ingredients for cranberry sauce like fresh cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and cinnamon.

I prefer my cranberry sauce on the tart side so I only use 2 tablespoons each of brown sugar and maple syrup.

If you are used to a traditional sweet cranberry sauce, use more.

Place over medium heat and stir continuously. Once the cranberries start to bubble, lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the berries start to burst.

Cranberry sauce being cooked in a small pan.

Then add in 2-4 tablespoons of dried fruit (raisin, apricots, dates, prunes), the zest of the mandarins, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Give a stir and take off heat. Taste for sweetness, adding more sweetener if needed.

Transfer the mixture to a glass container and allow to cool for 30-60 minutes. Then cover and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen for 1-2 months. Serve cold or at room temperature.

This small batch recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups or 4-8 servings, perfect for a small Thanksgiving meal. Feel free to double it for more people.

What to do with leftover cranberry sauce:

here are some other thanksgiving recipes to try

Oven Roasted Turkey Breast with Gravy
Savory and succulent turkey breast with a crispy skin.
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen cast iron skillet with roast turkey breast
Cornbread Dressing with Sausage
Made with crumbled corn bread and spicy sausage, here is my favorite recipe for stuffing! 
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen Cornbread Sausage Stuffing
Spice Roasted Sweet Potatoes
This is my favorite way to eat sweet potatoes, roasted until they are crisp and caramelized on the outside, and sweet and creamy on the inside.
Check out this recipe
Pan with spice roasted sweet potatoes.
Sautéed Garlic Green Beans
Tender green beans sautéed with sweet garlic and olive oil.
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen recipe for garlicky green beans.

Joby's Test Kitchen bowl of spiced cranberry sauce with mandarin oranges.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Mandarin Oranges

Joby’s Test Kitchen
This cranberry sauce is made with sweet oranges and warm spices like ginger and cloves.
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • ⅓-½ cup (80-120ml) hot water
  • ½ whole orange or 2 small mandarins, zested and peeled (save the zest)
  • 2-4 tbsps (24-48g) brown sugar
  • 2-4 tbsps (30-60ml) maple syrup or honey
  • cups (150g) fresh cranberries, rinsed (about 1/2 a bag)
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • tsp ground ginger
  • tsp ground allspice
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 2-4 tbsps (15-30g) dried fruit like raisins or diced apricots, dates, or prunes, optional
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • zest from mandarins

Instructions
 

  • Purée the mandarin slices in a blender with enough water to make ½ cup (I used a handheld immersion blender). Or finely chop or mash the orange slices until they are almost like a pulp. Add enough water to make ½ cup.
  • Add the orange puree/pulp to a saucepan along with the cranberries, sweeteners, and spices. Place over medium heat. Once it starts to bubble, lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes until berries start to burst. Then add the dried fruit, zest & vanilla. Give a stir and take off heat. Taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if needed.
  • Transfer the mixture to a glass container and allow to cool for 30-60 minutes. Cover and keep in fridge up to 5 days until ready to eat. Can also be frozen for 1-2 months. Serve cold or at room temperature.
  • Makes about 2½ cups.
Keyword condiment, cranberries, Thanksgiving