Classic cranberry sauce is a must for any Thanksgiving spread. Amid the turkey and sea of sides, it brings a sweet-tart bite that balances this savory feast. This subtly sweet slow cooker version is made to feed a crowd. It's got just enough sugar to balance the puckering bite of the cranberries so they still serve as a bright spot on your holiday plate.
A Base for Any Type of Cranberry Sauce
This recipe gives you the foundation for a basic, traditional cranberry sauce. For the liquid, I like using an even mix of water and fresh orange juice, although this ratio is flexible. Don't have any oranges? Use all water. And if you prefer a sauce with a more forward hint of citrus, go ahead and use all juice. There are plenty of ways to make this sauce your own, from spices to a splash of liquor or flavored extract. Here are a few ideas for inspiration.
- Spices: Add a cinnamon stick, cardamom pod, or a couple whole cloves to the slow cooker and cook with the cranberries. Remove before serving.
- Vanilla: Add a vanilla bean to the slow cooker with the cranberries, and remove before serving. Or stir in a teaspoon of vanilla extract after cooking.
- Liquor: Stir in 1 tablespoon of rum, brandy, or whiskey to the finished cranberry sauce.
- Dried fruit: Add a handful of chopped dried figs, cherries, or chopped apricots with the cranberries.
- Hot chiles: Finely chop a jalapeño and add at the end of cooking for a spicy, savory finish.
- Ginger: Add a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger with the cranberries.
Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce
2 1/2 pounds (40 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup water
Place all of the ingredients in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker and stir together. Cover. For a looser cranberry sauce, cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours on the HIGH setting or 7 hours on the LOW setting. For thicker cranberry sauce, cook on the HIGH setting 4 to 5 hours or the LOW setting 8 to 9 hours. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
Stir the sauce again. Serve warm or cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Make ahead: The cranberry sauce can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Storage: Cranberry sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.