Ina Garten’s cranberry sauce is the perfect mix of sweet and citrus, made with fresh cranberries, citrus zest, and just the right amount of sugar.
Serves: 12 Time: 30 minutes Cookbook: Barefoot Contessa: Modern Comfort Food
It’s that time of year again! When the leaves fall from trees, the air turns chilly, and football is in everyone’s conversations, you know turkey day is approaching. Just the thought of a fully laden Thanksgiving table brings images of roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and homemade cranberry sauce.
We’ve been on the lookout for a cranberry sauce recipe that blows all the rest away. A recipe that is not only better than canned cranberry sauce, but better than most other recipes out there. And we’ve found it!
Today’s recipe for the sweet, citrusy, zingy, and oh-so-delightful sauce comes from a Food Network star listed among their all-time favorite chefs: the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. This great recipe can be made well in advance of your holiday festivities, contributing to a seamless holiday cooking experience. Ina’s make-ahead cranberry sauce is the perfect mix of flavors and textures, making this a surefire winner for your next holiday feast.
- ❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- 🥣 Ingredients Needed to Make Ina Garten’s Cranberry Sauce
- 🍴 Equipment You’ll Need in the Kitchen
- 🥄 How to Make Ina Garten’s Cranberry Sauce
- ♾️ Variations on Ina Garten’s Cranberry Sauce
- ❓ Ina Garten’s Cranberry Sauce: Tips, Tricks, and FAQs
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Seasonal: Cranberry sauce is a must-have for the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays. Just like stuffing, pumpkin pie, and green bean casserole, some guests won’t particularly want any but other guests won’t feel like it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving unless there’s a heaping bowlful of beautiful red preserves for them to enjoy.
Fresh: This is the absolute best fresh cranberry sauce. No need to purchase pre-made or the kind from a can. You might even discover that some of your guests who previously weren’t fans suddenly acquire a taste for your delicious sauce.
Delicious: Did we mention how insanely delicious this is, yet? If you’re going to have plenty of other delicious food adorning your holiday table, then whole berry cranberry sauce should be added to a place of honor. It is amazing.
Simple: The sauce tastes like a million bucks and appears like you spent all day in the kitchen slaving away. However, it takes just a few simple ingredients, requires almost no prep time, and comes together in the perfect amount of time to join the rest of your Thanksgiving meal.
Ingredients Needed to Make Ina Garten’s Cranberry Sauce
- Cranberries: You want one 12-oz bag of fresh, not frozen, cranberries. You can get these at your local grocery store from October through December and sometimes year-around!
- Granny Smith Apple: You just need one, and yes, a granny smith. The slight tartness this apple variety provides is just perfection in Ina’s recipe.
- Orange: One medium-sized orange is enough for the zest and the juice.
- Lemon: One medium-sized lemon is all you need for zest and juice.
- Sugar: White sugar or cane sugar is perfect for this recipe. You don’t want brown sugar, however, as that would be too sweet.
Equipment Needed In the Kitchen
- Medium Saucepan: A 3-quart saucepan is a perfect size to hold all the ingredients to make the sauce, and provide room for mashing.
- Microplane/Zester: A microplane is the perfect tool for getting all the citrus zest from the orange and the lemon in this recipe.
- Peeler: You’ll need to peel the apple, so a peeler is key.
- Knife: A knife is needed to cut and core the apple.
- Spatula: You’ll need to stir the sauce from time to time.
- Potato Masher: You’re cooking whole berries and chunks of apples. When fully cooked, a light mash is all you need to turn it from cooked fruit into cranberry sauce.
How to Make Ina Garten’s Cranberry Sauce
This is the easiest cranberry sauce in the world – and it might just be the best one, too!
Prep the cranberries and apple
First up, dump the entire 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries into your saucepan. Look through them and remove any berries that show signs of mold or decay.
Next, peel your apple, then core and chop it.
Combine all the ingredients
Add the chopped apple to the saucepan, along with 1 cup of water.
Next, zest and juice the orange directly into the saucepan.
Zest and juice the lemon directly into the saucepan.
Finally, add 1 cup sugar.
Make that cranberry sauce
Give the saucepan a good stir to combine cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange zest, orange juice, apple chunks, and sugar.
Put the saucepan on low heat and allow to gently cook for 20 minutes. This is a low and slow cook, so low heat is important. If you turn it up to medium heat or medium high heat you could scorch the berries, burn the sugar, and cause the sauce to run over.
After it’s cooked for 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat. Gently mash until you’ve reached your preferred consistency for cranberry sauce. If you like it chunkier, mash less; smoother, mash more.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator before serving. Enjoy!
Variations on Ina Garten’s Cranberry Sauce
This cranberry sauce is one of the best versions of cranberry sauce we’ve ever had! That being said, you can always play around with variations of your own. Try these if you feel like something different:
Maple Syrup Cranberry Sauce: Instead of sugar, add maple syrup. Allow to cook for a bit longer to evaporate more water and thicken the sauce. Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman, does this!
Extra Fruit Cranberry Sauce: Add another apple, orange chunks, or other berries to cook along with the cranberries and become part of your sauce.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce: Add a dash or two of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove to the spice mixture before cooking. Taste as you go and adjust to your desired level of spice.
Ina Garten’s Cranberry Sauce: Tips, Tricks, and FAQs
Cranberry sauce is perfect with various Thanksgiving side recipes like sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes with cream cheese, and brussels sprouts. Serve it alongside the main course if you have turkey for the holiday season. This sauce is just about as popular as pumpkin pie for the holiday table.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
We found the recipe as Ina developed it to be utter perfection. That said, you can reduce the sugar to 1 cup and it will still turn out well.