Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Every single year, one hill I’m willing to die on is the fresh versus canned cranberry sauce debate. I love fresh cranberry sauce. Growing up, we didn’t really have cranberry sauce on the dinner table since we weren’t huge on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.


Christmas is more of our food holiday back in Puerto Rico. The few times we did have it, we had the cans. And just why? Cranberry-flavored gelatin in a can was such a hard pass for me. I didn’t get it and didn’t like it. I deserved better. And so do you.

So with that being said, when I decided to make fresh cranberry sauce? Total game changer. And it freezes very well so when you have leftovers, you can save them for sandwiches.

This recipe is all about balance. I like my sauce pretty tart and sour, since it helps cut through all of the fattiness of the rest of the meal. Butter-drenched potatoes, duck fat roasted hens, and creamy casseroles don’t stand a chance on your fork with this balancing it out. Add this to every bite from your plate and you’re bound to fall in love.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 10-12

2 bags fresh cranberries

2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 large navel orange, zested and juiced

2 small cinnamon sticks

1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated

2 star anise pods

Kosher salt, to taste

1/4 cup maple syrup (additional if needed)

Generous splash apple cider vinegar

In a medium to large saucepan, add the fresh cranberries, granulated sugar and water. Stir well and add the rest of the ingredients except for the apple cider vinegar. Bring the mixture up to a boil and let the berries cook with everything for about 15 minutes, stirring every so often. During this time, the cranberries should pop and release their juices.

Adjust any seasoning with kosher salt and maple syrup to balance out the tartness if you need to. Cook for another 15 minutes and use a cooking spoon or spatula to press out the berries if you need to. Finish with a few splashes of apple cider vinegar and stir well. Let cool down a bit before serving.

If you’re making this ahead of time for your holiday meal, you can make it weeks in advance and freeze it, thawing out a day or two before your big dinner. You could also easily make this two days in advance and store it in a plastic deli container in the fridge (which is what I did this year) and freeze any leftovers to use in sandwiches or wraps.

¡Buen provecho!