Pear, Brandy and Walnut Cranberry Sauce

By • November 4, 2009 • 72 Comments

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Author Notes: Growing up, we never ate canned cranberry sauce and my mom always made a cranberry and orange relish for Thanksgiving. But, It wasn't until I was working at a magazine, taste testing for a November issue that I realized all the cranberry possibilities. I started playing around until I came up with this one that I love - the pears add a fall-inspired sweetness, the brown sugar and brandy, richness, and the walnuts, a well-needed crunch. When choosing the pears, I look for ones that are ripe, but still firm. And, feel free to play with the brandy to make the sauce as boozy (or not) as you want.notlazy.rustic.

Food52 Review: In this cranberry sauce, you won't find any of the punishing tartness you get in many -- it's all silk and fragrance. The pears, which are shredded, melt into the sauce. The cranberries soften and soak up the brown sugar and cinnamon. And the brandy smoothes any wrinkles. You add a little brandy in the beginning and some more at the very end, as you stir in toasted walnuts. We've made the sauce with grated apple and it's just as delicious. We've also served it over fresh ricotta -- make sure you have some leftovers so you can try this! - A&MA&M

Serves 6-8 small servings

  • 1/3 cup, plus 2-3 tablespoon brandy, divided
  • water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, each broken in half
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, picked over
  • 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 medium bartlett pears, peeled
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted and divided
  1. Pour 1/3 cup brandy into liquid measuring cup; add enough water to reach 1/2 cup liquid total. Set aside. Place broken cinnamon sticks and peppercorns in center of small piece of cheesecloth or large tea bag and tie closed using kitchen twine.
  2. In medium saucepot, combine cranberries, brown sugar and cinnamon-pepper bundle. Using large holes on a box grater, grate pears into saucepot. Stir in brandy-water mixture.
  3. Over high heat, bring cranberry mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook 10-12 minutes, or until cranberries have burst and the mixture has combined, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons brandy. Let cool. Remove and discard cinnamon bundle. Stir in 7 tablespoons toasted walnuts. Transfer mixture to small serving bowl; sprinkle with remaining walnuts.
Jump to Comments (72)

Tags: Holidays, seasonal, Vegetarian

Comments (72) Questions (1)

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9 months ago juicyrebound1

We always make the ground orange, cranberry relish, but this is a great addition to the Thanksgiving table. Aging the sauce does improve the delicious flavors.

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10 months ago helen

I sliced the top off of a small brie wheel, put 2/3 c of this on top, wrapped it puff pastry and baked for my food gifts this year. Everyone loved it.

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10 months ago frizz

Made this on Tuesday and it kept getting better and better throughout the week. It's my new favorite, and I'll be making it for years to come. Thank you so much!

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10 months ago Kate

This was really good, but serves way more than 6-8! One batch fed 14 people yesterday. (Maybe notlazy.rustic's friends eat a lot of cranberry sauce?) Anyway, somebody recommended I try using the leftovers to make empanadas with dulce de leche/cajeta and grappa. I'll give that a go on Monday, but thought I'd share now if anyone else has leftovers they need to take care of.

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10 months ago whmcdevitt

how far in advance can you make this sauce we're having another Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday.....Nov 30th

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10 months ago Kate

I think Antonia James was saying 4 days. I would add the walnuts day of, though.

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10 months ago MummieMummie

Made a mistake & added pecans...have I ruined it? Do I still add the walnuts or just start over?

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10 months ago Sabine Gagnon

I think your cranberry sauce will survive! Pecans are a nice alternative and often preferred by many. I personally wouldn't add walnuts as it might throw of the ratio.

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10 months ago Rachel C.

Just cooked up this recipe, and the flavors are amazing! I never really liked cranberry sauce, but this recipe has definitely converted me.
Instead of brown sugar and brandy (I didn't have either in my house), I substituted in honey and dark aged rum. The flavors of the honey, rum, and pears complemented each other very nicely. I'll be making this recipe every year now!

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10 months ago tulip549

Wow- this was a really good recipe. Next time I will substitute honey for sugar. I added a touch of orange blossom water and used freshly squeezed orange juice instead of brandy (I didn't have any brandy). Thanks!

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10 months ago ss

do you serve this cold or warm?

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10 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Serve it at room temperature. And try to make it at least a day ahead of time, reserving the nuts until shortly before serving (unless you don't mind soggy nuts). It will improve considerably with a day or two of rest. ;o)

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10 months ago Sabine Gagnon

I took this advice from reading your previous comments and wow! It has made a really nice difference. I can't wait to serve it today! Thank you for the tip.

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10 months ago Elise Jordana

LOVED making the recipe and it was a hit with guests! Subbed 1/2 cup of raw honey for the sugar though, still really enjoyed it!

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10 months ago Sabine Gagnon

Just made this tonight in preparation for Thanksgiving! Heavenly! My husband and I tasted the cranberry sauce with and without the walnuts as we were skeptical about the texture and after tasting, the walnuts totally make sense! It rounds it out nicely and gives a great texture. I, admittedly, always have loved the canned cranberry sauce but this is definitely a game changer! Thank you for the recipe!

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11 months ago Mae

This looks great! I would like to make this on Thanksgiving. Do you think I could use dark rum instead of brandy? Rum's got a little bit more of a bite to it, but my shopping list is already wracking up quite a bill!

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11 months ago Bevi

Go for it!

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10 months ago Sabine Gagnon

I think rum would work great or even sub orange juice for liquor!

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11 months ago Emelia F

Anyone know how long this will last for?

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11 months ago dorothee

I made some last Saturday and had leftovers yesterday - still good! I froze some last week and hope that works out.

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11 months ago ihaventpoisonedyouyet

This smells and tastes amazing!! Doubled the recipe and used 3 pears (all I had) and an apple. Waiting until the day of to add the walnuts. Thanks - I know people are going to love this.

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almost 2 years ago Katileigh

I was searching for a cranberry sauce recipe like the one my sister-in-law makes. I found this and like it very much. Not necessarily more than hers, but equally well. I mix it with vanilla yogurt for a light meal... Very heavenly. Now, I just need to persuade her to part with the other one.

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almost 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

One of the best cranberry sauces I've ever tasted. It's much, much better after four days. I could really taste the pear on Day 4, where I couldn't before. So elegant, and so perfectly delicious. (We did not add the walnuts, given the nuts in various other dishes. I may stir some into the leftovers I'm looking forward to enjoying later today.) ;o)

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almost 2 years ago Ruby Claire

best cranberry sauce i have ever had! i left out the nuts but you can't go wrong. so much dimension!! LOVE LOVE WIN WIN

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almost 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I made a batch the night before last. It made my house smell so elegant! And it tastes so good, too. Even better with a bit of extra sitting time. Did not add the walnuts, however, as I do not care much for soggy nuts. ;o)

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almost 2 years ago Dorothee

I put them in before serving. You can toast them anytime.

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almost 2 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

AJ, this is my go-to cranberry sauce now. I love, love, love it. I don't use nuts though b/c of my nut allergies :-(

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almost 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I can see why. I can easily see this becoming my go-to, as well. It's so perfectly elegant. (Never thought I'd describe a cranberry sauce that way . . . . ) ;o)

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almost 2 years ago Dorothee

Made this last year and it was a hit! So much so that I was asked to make it again this year. It is on my list!

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almost 2 years ago lexilarkin

this is awesome, highly recommend for thanksgiving, my whole family loved it

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almost 3 years ago ktchnninja

made for thanksgiving - sooo good everyone was eating it just by itself! the toasted walnuts really make it. didn't have cheesecloth so used large coffee filters & twine. this is now my go-to cranberry sauce!

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almost 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Made this for yesterday's Thanksgiving and it might be the best cranberry sauce I've ever had. I can't eat nuts, so I had to leave them out, but it was still just wonderful. I had some apple cider on hand that I had reduced by 1/2 with chopped up pears and then strained. I added a couple tablespoons at the end with that instead of the additional brandy - soooo good.

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almost 3 years ago swent45

If making in advance I would hold the walnuts until just before serving.
They can become soggy after a couple of days, losing their crunch.

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almost 3 years ago mrathmel

Loved this recipe! Made it today for Thanksgiving. I didn't have cheese cloth, so I just put the cinnamon sticks in the pan and ground some fresh black pepper in the sauce. Excellent! This is a keeper.

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almost 3 years ago WinnieAb

I made it last night and did the exact same thing! And it is really delicious. I might have a hard time not eating a few big spoonfuls of it before Thursday.

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almost 3 years ago shemanufactures

I put the whole peppercorns in a mesh tea strainer, which worked well.

I actually made this with 2 medium beets instead of pears - I diced them and boiled them for about ten minutes before adding the cranberries, but next time I would shred the raw beets in a food processor. I adjusted sugar down to 1/4 c. + 1 or 2 tablespoons of honey.

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almost 3 years ago francesk

I followed the suggestions of several other posters & used orange juice, 2 tablespoons of cognac and added a bit of lemon zest to the mix and it's the most elegant, simple and bright tasting cranberry sauce I've ever had. Thanks for the recipe & all the tips.

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over 3 years ago kathymargaret

Orange juice substitutes well for brandy. This cranberry recipe is now a healthy family favorite.

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almost 4 years ago Bevi

I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a hit! I also made the pear shavings bigger and they were lovely in the relish.

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almost 4 years ago Señora Hughes

this is amazing!

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almost 4 years ago enbe

I had some pear brandy around the house that I wanted to get rid of so this recipe was perfect. A nice twist on cranberry sauce.
Next time I'll halve the walnuts though.

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almost 4 years ago TakeThymeToCook

Great recipe! I used a peeler to add pear bigger pear shavings and i loved the boom of pear taste with each bite. Perfect addition to a holiday feast!

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almost 4 years ago OpEdible

This is the cranberry sauce that will convert any self-professed hater of cranberry sauce into a lover. So simple and elegant. I subbed Arkansas Black apples in lieu of pears & used a lovely cognac since I had them on hand. Cannot wait to serve it with the bird tomorrow.

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almost 4 years ago minniti

just made this in advance of tomorrow's feast--divine!

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almost 4 years ago emilyv

excellent! the pear is just perfect. thanks for the great recipe.

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almost 4 years ago Mitzish

I don't have any cheesecloth...any suggestions for how much cinnamon and pepper to add?

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almost 4 years ago emilyv

I just threw in two whole cinnamon sticks (remove after cooking) and a fresh grind of pepper from the mill, it worked perfectly!

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almost 4 years ago KateCooks

This looks fantastic! Can it be canned and saved for a rainy day?

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almost 5 years ago dagny

I made this exactly as in the recipe for Thanksgiving and my whole family loved it, so I thought I'd do it again for Christmas. I tried it with pecans instead of walnuts this time, and I also added a lemon peel to the tea bag (actually I used a tied coffee filter) and a bit of orange and lemon zest. I actually liked the contrast of the walnuts better than the pecans, but the lemon peel and zest added a really nice zing to the mix.

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almost 5 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Fantastic...I think pecans would rock...I'm a pecan fan!

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almost 5 years ago Elycooks

I ran out of brandy after the initial 1/3 cup (how did that happen?) but did have 2 bottles of Cassis on hand (and how did THAT happen?) of which I used 2 Tbsp. for the final finish. Not a bad sub.

Thx for a wonderful recipe!

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almost 5 years ago QueenOfGreen

Made it this evening - thank you!

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almost 5 years ago semisoccer

I just made this recipe and it is great. Definitely making this again on Thanksgiving day!

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almost 5 years ago notlazy.rustic.

i'm glad you enjoyed it! and thank you - i will remember this on thanksgiving.

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almost 5 years ago Maria Teresa Jorge

Congratulations, it's an amazing simple recipe but the combination of flavours is brilliant. Made the recipe and tastes absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing and congratulations once more.

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almost 5 years ago notlazy.rustic.

thank you! i'm glad it worked well for you.

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almost 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I made this using kirschwasser (cherry brandy) and substituting toasted pecans for the walnuts. I let it sit for about a day and half (to let it mellow) before folding in the pecans. Tasted it this evening. Very nice . . . . this recipe is a real keeper!!!

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almost 5 years ago notlazy.rustic.

thanks! i'm glad you enjoyed it - i think i'm going to try the recipe with pecans, myself. it's been a popular addition.

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almost 5 years ago happybaker

Looks yummy!

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almost 5 years ago maryt

this sounds fantastic! will definitely be trying this for thanksgiving. can it be made a day in advance?

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almost 5 years ago notlazy.rustic.

thank you, that's so nice to hear! absolutely - you could make it 2-3 days early if that helps your planning.

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almost 5 years ago Renee H

This recipe looks delicious! I can't wait to make it for my family this Thanksgiving! Thanks notlazy.rustic!

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almost 5 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks great! I love the idea of the cranberries, pear and brandy playing together. I plan to try it this weekend. I'm allergic to nuts, always a problem during the holidays, but am thinking it would work without the walnuts although without the texture contrast.

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almost 5 years ago notlazy.rustic.

ChezSuzanne, while I think the nuts offer a contrast of texture, this recipe can absolutely be made without them, without suffering. Enjoy!

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almost 5 years ago notlazy.rustic.

thank you everyone for your kind words!

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almost 5 years ago mariaraynal

Pears -- of course! Why did I think of that? Brilliant.

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almost 5 years ago pauljoseph

This looks very delicate, maybe I try it!

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almost 5 years ago mom's kitchen

This cranberry recipe looks wonderful. It will be a new addition to my Thanksgiving table.
Thank you notlazy.rustic

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almost 5 years ago Collin

I love this and I'm going to vote for it, but . . . I've never seen any recipe calling for walnuts that isn't improved by using pecans instead.

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almost 5 years ago notlazy.rustic.

Collin, thank you. I agree about the pecans. I do also think that pecans are a bit sweeter and I was trying to keep the nuts a bit savory to balance the brown sugar and cinnamon. But, pecans would be delicious, too.

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almost 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

This looks delicious.

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almost 5 years ago WinnieAb

Looks great...love the addition of the walnuts!