cranberry bourbon vanilla sauce

Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce is like 4th of July without fireworks. With so many tried and true recipes for cranberry sauce, why crack open a can of the jelly-like blob which is flavorless, uninspiring and completely and unimaginative? Seriously people!

The tart-sweet flavors and vibrant crimson color are a quintessential necessity for the holidays and a perfect dish to make ahead, as the flavors become even more epic.

For the not so faint of heart and the ones that want to walk a road less traveled, these favored relishes and chutneys, (some are not necessarily cranberry-esque), are a definite welcome change from the usual sauce that plays such a key component at Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings.  These splendid sauces will pair beautifully with your Thanksgiving Basics and equally amazing sides.


This cranberry accompaniment is marvelously elevated and a sophisticated addition to the holidays. Hands down it will become a tried and true staple in your Thanksgiving recipe repertoire, because vanilla and bourbon are a marriage made in Heaven and this sauce has taken divine to sublime!

1 bag of fresh cranberries or 2 cups of fresh

1 cup of water

2 TBSP of Bourbon – or Crown Royale

1½ TBSP of real vanilla extract

2-4 orange zest segments

½ TSP of Balsamic Vinegar

1 cup of sugar

Pinch of salt

¼ TSP Aleppo pepper

Place all the ingredients in a medium sauce pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce and simmer till cranberries have softened and popped – about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the sauce to thicken as it cools.


cranberry-apple chutney

This is actually a recipe from Ina Garten that I have tweaked over the years. Served alongside the atypical cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s so well received that I it’s guaranteed the regular red sauce will be all but forgotten!  You may be flummoxed to learn it’s such a hit, you’ll be asked not to present any cranberry sauce at any future holiday gatherings.  Scouts honor.


2 Golden Delicious Apples – peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks

¼ chopped sweet onion – Maui or Vidalia

1 TBSP of minced fresh ginger

¼ cup of ACV

½ cup of fresh squeezed OJ

½ cup of dark brown sugar

1 TBSP of honey

½ TSP of mustard seeds

1 stick of cinnamon

1 pinch of pepper flakes

1/8 TSP of ground allspice

Pinch of ground cloves (very small pinch, as clove is a very overpowering spice)

Pinch of kosher salt

½ cup of sultanas

Place all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 45 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Allow to cook at room temperature, remove the cinnamon stick and use a potato masher to gently blend and mash all ingredients.  Adjust seasonings.


This chutney complements roast pork loin, lamb or pork chops superbly well and its staggeringly good served with crackers and cheese on a charcuterie board.  Use it with left over Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing and spread on rolls, just like you would any cranberry sauce.


cranberry sauce



Two words that come to mind to describe this cranberry chutney/relish: epic/proportions.  Go ahead and add it to the typical Thanksgiving fare, but it’s also brilliant with roast or grilled pork chops and pork loin as well.







2 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and cut into small squares

1 package of frozen cranberries or 2 cups of fresh

1 cup of brown sugar

½ cup of water

¼ cup of ACV

½ cup of crystalized ginger – minced

2 large shallots chopped finely

½ cup of walnuts

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Sweat the shallots in some olive oil till translucent with a pinch of salt.  Add half the cranberries, the apples, water, ACV, sugar and simmer for about 15 minutes stirring a few times to prevent them from sticking.  Add the minced ginger, the pepper flakes, the walnuts and the rest of the cranberries and simmer until they have pooped – about 5-6 more minutes.  Remove from the fire and allow it to cool completely before serving.  Can be refrigerated up to a week, and it freezes well


The addition of crystalized ginger in this particular chutney instead of fresh, is best, as I find that it gets too fibrous otherwise.  And if you are feeling adventurous, which is pretty me much all time, make another version that incorporates fresh rosemary and lemon juice/zest just to change things up a bit.


cranberry chutney

This version of cranberry compote is so splendid that it can be given homage year-round. It’s a brilliant addition with roast chicken or game hens and a great idea to keep a small batch in the freezer. It’s a very good go-to cranberry sauce that has a lot of citrus notes as well as being sweet-tart, so hence it goes really well with poultry. The addition of brown sugar makes it more rounded in sweetness.

Don’t fret it you think it is too runny after cooking it, as it will thicken considerably once it has cooled down.

1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries

1 and ½ Granny Smith apples

1 orange – juice, zest and some of the segments chopped

1 lemon, juice, zest and some of the segments chopped

1 cup of white sugar

¾ cup of brown sugar

½ cup of water

¾ raisins

¾ cup of dried cranberries

¾ cup of chopped walnuts

1 stick of cinnamon

¼ cup of Calvados – Apple brandy

Place the washed cranberries and the sugars in a medium sized sauce pan and add 1 cup of water and place over med/high heat for about 5 minutes until the cranberries burst open. Add the citrus components, apple, dried cranberries, Calvados and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the nuts and sultanas.  If you’ve made it ahead, remove from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.

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