I always make my own homemade fresh cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It takes no time at all to make and tastes so much better than canned, jellied cranberries.
This is grown-up cranberry sauce: fresh berries, sauteed onion, dry red wine, apple pie spice, and toasted hazelnuts. It’s a flavor explosion in your mouth.
And we all know how well cranberry sauce pairs with turkey or ham. It’s delicious. Your family deserves a second choice, (other than the jelly kind).
How to make it
From start to finish this should only take about 45 minutes.
Another good thing is that you can make this recipe days ahead of your meal since it refrigerates well. Fresh cranberry sauce also freezes well.
Place it into a plastic, air-tight freezer bag and it will keep for a couple of months. Let it defrost overnight in your refrigerator.
Start with fresh or frozen cranberries. These are harvested from September until November and are only available unfrozen for a short time in the grocery store.
Most of the time though, whole fresh cranberries are available in the freezer section.
I’ve made this with both unfrozen berries and frozen berries and there’s no difference in the quality.
You can find a whole bunch more information about cranberries at U.S. Cranberries website. More recipes and news.
The remaining Ingredients:
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 tsp cider vinegar
- 1 large mild onion, medium chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup Zinfandel, or other dry red wine
- 1/2 tsp apple pie spice
- 1/4 cup sugar, or substitute maple syrup
- 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarse chopped
- Kosher salt as needed
I have found that hazelnuts are hard to find in grocery stores…they are very seasonal. However, whole foods stores and bulk food stores usually have them.
In Florida, we have Bulk Nation and they have hazelnuts skin on or skin off. By all means, buy the ones that are skin off if you can find them.
The hazelnuts need to be toasted first to bring out their flavor and it’s easy to do.
Place nuts on a baking sheet and heat in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The skins will turn quite dark.
Remove from the oven and roll the nuts around and this will break the skin off the nut.
I finished this by rolling 6 or 8 nuts in my hands to get most of the skin off.
It’s a little messy but seemed to work well.
Like I say, try to find some without the skins.
Preparing the Cranberry Sauce
Combine the brown sugar, butter, and onion in a large skillet on medium heat. Cook the onion until translucent, (4 or 5 minutes). Remove from heat, stir in the vinegar, and set aside.
In a 4 to 6-quart kettle or dutch oven, combine the cranberries, raisins, wine, and apple pie spice. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally.
Add the onions and sugar, (or maple syrup), and gently simmer this for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently, (more like gently folding the mixture to keep from mashing the cranberries).
Taste this and add a small amount of salt. I added about 1/2 tsp and this seems to enhance all the flavors. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped nuts.
Serve this warm or at room temperature with your other Holiday dinner goodies.
This cranberry sauce compliments turkey or ham with sophisticated flavors perfect for a special meal.
Homemade Fresh Cranberry Sauce
- 1 large mild onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 5 tbsp. butter
- 2 tsp cider vinegar
- 12 oz. whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup raisins, golden or your choice
- 1/2 cup dry red wine, merlot, cabernet, syrah
- 1/2 tsp. apple pie spice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar or substitute maple syrup
- salt as desired, I used 1/2 tsp
- 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarse chopped
- Heat oven to 350°, place hazelnuts on a small sheet pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool, then remove the skin by rolling with your hand. Coarsely chop and set aside.
- Place butter, brown sugar, and chopped onion into a skillet on medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 2 teaspoons cider vinegar and set aside.
- Place cranberries, raisins, red wine, and pie spice into a large sauce pan or dutch oven on medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Next, stir in the reserved sauteed onion and the additional 1/4 cup sugar, (or maple syrup), and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and add the chopped hazelnuts and stir to combine. Taste and add a small amount of salt if desired. Allow to cool before serving warm.
Here are a couple of Holiday Appetizer ideas for you to try:
Sounds perfect! Will be making it next week!
Wow Joe, this sounds amazing. I usually make Ina Garten’s recipe with diced Granny Smith apple. But I will make yours this time because I love that the toasted hazelnuts with add that crunchy texture! Might just have to make a test batch tonight.
I couldn’t get enough of this conserve; it was delicious with grilled cheese sandwiches, too! Our sister-in-law said it was “to die for”. =0)
The first time Joe made this recipe, he couldn’t find fresh cranberries or hazelnuts, so he used dried cranberries and cashews. Dried cranberries worked great (which means you can make this year-round), but hazelnuts add more flavor than cashews did for this recipe.
Also, we didn’t have pumpkin pie spice, but we always have Penzey’s Baking Spice on hand, so Joe used that with excellent results.