Honey Bourbon Cranberry Sauce Recipe (7 Ingredients!)

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Take Your Thanksgiving Table to the Next Level With This Boozy Drink Cranberry Bourbon Sauce recipe! Sweet and tart cranberries simmered with honey, fresh orange juice and a touch of bourbon for added notes of vanilla bean and oak that complement the fresh berries and add depth of flavor.

Close-up of homemade bourbon cranberry sauce in a serving bowl with garnish of fresh cranberries and orange slices.

Why you’ll love this cranberry sauce

  • Traditional cranberry sauce with a twist! Regular fresh cranberry sauce is very good and a classic for a reason, but this Bourbon Orange Cranberry Sauce is just what your holiday table needs. Bourbon brings notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak, which add depth and richness to the cranberry sauce, creating a more elevated holiday sauce.
  • It’s still cheap. The canned variety is less expensive than making it from scratch, but when it comes to vegan Thanksgiving recipes, this Bourbon Cranberry Sauce recipe is one of the cheapest! In fact, you can make this boozy version from scratch for less than $5. The few extra dollars it takes to buy a few simple ingredients are worth the flavor of fresh!
  • Be friendly in advance. If you’re like me, you like to make vacations as easy as possible. Cook this easy Bourbon Cranberry Sauce 1-2 days in advance during Thanksgiving week, then simply reheat it over low heat on the stove, or even in a mini slow cooker on the side.

Notes on ingredients

Ingredients for bourbon cranberry sauce measured and labeled.Ingredients for bourbon cranberry sauce measured and labeled.
  • Cranberries: Both fresh cranberries and frozen cranberries work well in this recipe.
  • Liquid sweetener: I like to use honey or maple syrup, but agave nectar would work just as well. I do not recommend using artificial sweeteners as I have no experience cooking with them and cannot confirm that they will thicken the same as a natural sweetener. Additionally, avoid using granulated sugars like white sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar. This cranberry sauce recipe will be too thick without the added liquid from a liquid sweetener.
  • Bourbon: Don’t use your top shelf, good stuff for cooking. The best bourbon to use is a mid-range option that is still quality, yet affordable.
  • Orange: Fresh orange juice and orange zest add essential citrus flavor and enhance the flavor of the tart cranberries.
  • Spices: You’ll need ground cinnamon and ground ginger to add heat and flavors that complement the vanilla notes of the bourbon. If you like the flavor of cinnamon, you can also simmer the cranberry sauce with a whole cinnamon stick.

How to Make Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cranberries burst, the alcohol is gone, and the sauce has thickened. If necessary, you can use a potato masher to mash and pop the cranberries.
  2. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with additional fresh orange slices and enjoy hot, chilled or however you like!
Texture of cranberry sauce after 10-15 minutes of cooking.Texture of cranberry sauce after 10-15 minutes of cooking.

Presentation suggestions

Besides serving as a classic Thanksgiving dinner sauce and side dish, this Bourbon Cranberry Sauce can be enjoyed or reused in many ways! In fact, homemade cranberry sauce is something I make year-round with frozen cranberries. Here are some of my favorite ways to use it:

  • Sandwich spread: Turn your leftover holiday meals into a hearty sandwich and use cranberry sauce as a spreadable condiment! The sweet and sour combination works wonderfully.
  • Yogurt or ice cream topping: Pour a warm dollop of cranberry sauce over your favorite yogurt and vanilla ice cream.
  • Oat filling: One of my favorites! Mix it into my Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats or serve it over these Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with extra fruit and maple syrup.
  • Topping for pancakes, waffles, pancakes or French toast: Perfect addition to holiday breakfasts at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Check out this cranberry sauce on my Overnight French Toast Casserole here!
  • Vinaigrette: Turn your cranberry sauce into homemade cranberry vinaigrette with a few simple additions.
  • Cocktail: Repurpose cranberry sauce into a holiday cocktail, like this Cranberry Smash Cocktail or this Old Fashioned Cocktail.
Bowl of cranberry sauce topped with fresh orange slices.Bowl of cranberry sauce topped with fresh orange slices.

Recipe FAQs

Can I make this cranberry sauce before Thanksgiving dinner?

Yes. I actually recommend it because the flavor deepens over time (like a good pot of chili!). Simply prepare the recipe as directed 1 to 2 days in advance, let it cool completely to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container, such as a glass jar, and refrigerate. Then, when ready to serve on Thanksgiving, reheat it in a small saucepan over low heat until heated through. Keep the heat very low – this will prevent it from thickening too much.

How long will this cranberry sauce last?

When properly stored in the refrigerator, this sauce will keep for up to 1 week. For prolonged freshness, store in an airtight container, preferably glass.

Is this cranberry sauce suitable for the freezer?

Absolutely! Freeze leftover cranberry sauce in an airtight container, freezer-safe bag, or individual servings in Souper Cubes for up to 2 months.

Close-up of the final cranberry sauce.Close-up of the final cranberry sauce.

Make this recipe cheaper

  • Use frozen cranberries. Frozen fruit is almost always less expensive than fresh cranberries. Frozen cranberries also work well in almost any cranberry recipe!
  • Buy generic brands. When pricing this recipe, I noticed that the cost of brand name cranberries, such as Ocean Spray or Cape Cod Select, was double and triple the price of bags of generic store brand cranberries.
  • Reduce or substitute bourbon: Instead of 1/4 cup bourbon, use 2 additional tablespoons honey and 2 additional tablespoons fresh orange juice.
Bowl of cranberry sauce with a serving spoon in a bowl and garnished with fresh orange slices.Bowl of cranberry sauce with a serving spoon in a bowl and garnished with fresh orange slices.

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Bourbon Cranberry Sauce Recipe

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Preparation time 5 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes

Total time 20 minutes

Cost: $4.84 per recipe / $0.61 per serving

Take Your Thanksgiving Table to the Next Level With This Boozy Drink Cranberry Bourbon Sauce recipe! Sweet and tart cranberries simmered with honey, fresh orange juice and a touch of bourbon for added notes of vanilla bean and oak that complement the fresh berries and add depth of flavor.

  • Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cranberries burst, the alcohol is gone, and the sauce has thickened. If necessary, you can use a potato masher to mash and pop the cranberries.

  • Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with additional fresh orange slices and enjoy hot, chilled or however you like!

  • Bourbon: Replace with 2 tablespoons liquid sweetener and 2 tablespoons orange juice.
  • Dear: Can use maple syrup or agave. I do not recommend using artificial sweeteners as I have no experience cooking with them and cannot confirm that they will thicken the same as a natural sweetener. Additionally, avoid using granulated sugars like white sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar. This cranberry sauce recipe will be too thick without the added liquid from a liquid sweetener.

This recipe makes about 2 cups.

Calories: 106kilocalories | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 2mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g

Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is an estimate only. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.

Course Side dish

Kitchen American

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