Cranberry Sauce. A crucial part of any turkey dinner that is all too often ignored during the initial recipe gathering and planning. I’m just as guilty as anyone else, typically happy to whip together a last minute sauce of fresh cranberries plus sugar and call it a day. Bigger, more complicated dishes, demand my attention leaving little time to contemplate the cranberry.

And then, one Thanksgiving a few years past, I went a little wild with the bourbon. We started the meal with an old fashioned, and then proceeded to enjoy maple bourbon mashed sweet potatoes, bourbon cranberry sauce, and a chocolate bourbon pecan pie. It was a bourbonpalooza, like only two kid-free apartment-bound food lovers can have.

Times have changed, we are no longer apartment bound and will only be kid-free for a few more months. However the bourbon cranberry sauce was such a hit that it earned a permanent place on our Thanksgiving table. It requires very little forethought, and can still be whipped together the day of the meal. The combination of bourbon, orange zest, fresh cranberries and a pinch of cinnamon takes ordinary cranberry sauce and turns it into something special. Dark spicy notes from the bourbon balance out the tart citrus flavors of cranberries and orange, adding a spicy zing that will have you scooping a bit of cranberry sauce with every bite of turkey. So if you’re feeling a little frisky this Thanksgiving, break out the bourbon and go wild with the cranberry sauce!

Bourbon Orange Cranberry Sauce (Printable Recipe)
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes about 3 cups

1 pound (about 4 cups) fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
Zest of 1 orange (slice the leftover pulp and add a piece to your old fashioned!)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup bourbon (We like Knob Creek for cooking and drinking)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle. Combine the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon in a 9×13 baking dish. Cover the dish tightly with foil and place in the oven. Bake until the cranberries are tender and the sugar is dissolved, stirring once, about 1 hour. Remove the dish from the oven and stir in the bourbon. Let the cranberry sauce cool enough to place in the fridge, and then refrigerate the cranberry sauce until it is well chilled (it will thicken as it cools). Transfer the sauce to a bowl and serve with turkey. (The sauce can be made 1 week ahead.)

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