There’s a home video of me somewhere in my parent’s house from about age 6 stirring cranberry sauce on the stove for the first time. I am not-so-patiently teaching my parents the tricky technique of dump-and-stir from my teacher’s ‘special’ recipe while they made sure I didn’t burn myself. It was only years later that I realized the ‘special’ recipe was on the back of the Ocean Spray bag and even longer before I upgraded the recipe for something slightly more interesting. And boozy.
A couple of years ago Jeff and I discovered a recipe for a bourbon cranberry sauce and while the Thanksgiving menu changes every year, this is the one constant. Even if I want to branch out and try a different cranberry condiment, this one also has to be on the table. It’s so easy to make you can do it at 10 pm the night before when you realize you forgot to put it together, but it can also be made a week ahead. How do you think I got pictures of it already?
It’s not just that we love bourbon around here (although that’s true too); this sauce is superior in other ways. The alcohol cooks out of the sauce but it leaves its flavor behind which gives the sweet-tart sauce a little depth. You can put it in the oven and do other things since you don’t have to keep an eye on it or continually stir a pot on the stove. And because it’s not stirred the sauce is made up of whole berries which take on a jewel-like translucency that looks pretty stunning on the table.
Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
Now riddle-me-this friends: why is it that cranberry sauce recipes are generally based on a pound of berries while cranberries are sold in 12 oz bags? After years of having this problem I finally scaled down the recipe so I know how much of everything to add for a full pound of berries (if I feel like using multiple bags) or for the 12 oz that come in a package. Both options are listed below.
1 lb (16 oz) or 12 oz cranberries
2 cups or 1 ½ cups sugar
½ tsp cinnamon (same for both recipes, it’s good either way)
¼ cup or 3 tbs bourbon
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a 9 by 13 glass baking dish*combine the cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, and bourbon and stir until it looks like the cranberries are covered in slush – make sure there aren’t any lingering pockets of unmixed sugar.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour. When the sauce is done all the sugar will be cooked in and the berries will be sitting in a bit of sauce at the bottom of the pan. Let it cool slightly and then use a spatula to get all of the delicious-ness into a container. Serve cold or room temperature. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
*Ok, glass isn’t really necessary here but it just looks so pretty while it comes together. If you can spare one, it’s worth it.