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Author Notes: Here’s a cranberry sauce that you can and should make all season long. It’s tart and sweet, just as you’d expect a cranberry sauce to be, with savory undertones that surprise and play nicely with everything on your table. It’s pleasantly bitter, too, thanks to a whole orange (rind and flesh) that gets chopped up and folded in. And because the sauce is roasted (versus simmered on the stove), it’s more complex and concentrated in flavor—and virtually hands-off in preparation.
This sauce can easily fit in with all of the seasons’s cooking, equally at home with a roast chicken or rich vegetable gratin as with your Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham. And leftovers can be used in countless ways; below I’ve included three of my favorites: cranberry brown butter-roasted sweet potatoes; cranberry-balsamic vinaigrette; and cranberry & whipped ricotta toasts.
Note: I like to hold back a portion of the cranberries and add them near the end of the roasting time. The textural contrast between the fully and partially burst berries is really nice, but feel free to add all the berries from the get-go for a smoother, jammier sauce.
Serves a crowd
Roasted whole-orange cranberry sauce
- 6 cups cranberries (two 12-ounce bags), separated
- 1 medium naval or Cara Cara orange
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (from 1 large shallot)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fennel (celery can be substituted)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- Small pinch of kosher salt, or to taste
- Heat oven to 375F.
- Set aside 2 cups of cranberries (they’ll get added to the sauce near the end of its roasting time).
- Wash the orange, then slice off both ends and cut in half, removing any seeds. Finely chop the whole orange (peel and flesh).
- Combine the chopped orange with the remaining 4 cups cranberries, brown sugar, and the rest of the ingredients in a 9x13-inch baking dish, stirring well to integrate. Roast for 40 minutes (stirring once or twice) until the cranberries have burst and the juices are starting to thicken. Remove the pan from the oven, stir well, then add the remaining cranberries. Roast for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cranberries have softened but still have their shape.
- Taste the sauce for balance, adding more brown sugar, balsamic, and/or orange juice to your liking. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature or cold. The sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated (for up to a week) or frozen (for up to a month) tightly covered.
3 Ways to Put Leftover Cranberry Sauce to Good Use!
- Cranberry brown butter-roasted sweet potatoes: In a small pan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and cook until it turns brown and smells nutty, about 4 to 6 minutes. Take the pan off of the heat and immediately mix in 1 tablespoon of cranberry sauce (smashing any whole berries with the back of your spoon) and 1 tablespoon finely chopped herbs (sage, thyme, or rosemary). Toss 2 pounds sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks) with the cranberry-brown butter and kosher salt and pepper, to taste, and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Roast at 425F for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender.
- Cranberry-balsamic vinaigrette: Using an immersion or standing blender, blend 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce with 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 6 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, and a few pinches of kosher salt and black pepper. Adjust seasoning and acidity, to taste.
- Cranberry & whipped ricotta toasts: In a bowl of a food processor, combine 1 cup of ricotta cheese and kosher salt and pepper, to taste. (Chevre makes a great substitute for ricotta.) With the motor running, add 2 to 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or more as needed) in a thin stream, and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning, to taste. Spread crostini or favorite toasts with a layer of whipped ricotta, then a layer of cranberry sauce (at room temperature). Top with finely chopped herbs (tarragon or parsley), if desired.