Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means it's time to start thinking about what dishes you'll be making. If you're looking to use up some dried cranberries or can't find fresh ones, this cranberry sauce with dried cranberries is sure to impress your guests. It's flavorful, holds its shape, and can be made year-round. So why not give it a try?
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💭 Why you'll love this recipe
While fresh cranberry sauce is amazing, sometimes you just can't find fresh cranberries, or you have a lot of dried cranberries sitting at home. This is a great way to make a traditional recipe, but be more cost-effective!
- Dried cranberries are more flavorful: Dried cranberries have a more concentrated flavor, so you can use less sugar without sacrificing taste. Plus, extra sugar in dried cranberries will help thicken your sauce as it cooks.
- Dried cranberries hold their shape better: When cooked, fresh cranberries sometimes turn into a mushy mess. Dried cranberries hold their shape when cooked, so your sauce will have a lovely mix of tart bites and smoothness.
- You can use this recipe year-round: Cranberry season is relatively short, so if you want to make cranberry sauce outside of November and December, you'll need to use dried cranberries. This is also a great way to use up any leftover dried cranberries from your holiday baking!
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make cranberry sauce with dried cranberries, you'll need: dried cranberries, cranberry juice, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, water, and corn starch.
Notes and Variations
- Switch up the cranberries: Cranberry sauce is a staple for the holidays, and can be made with many types of cranberries. If you have fresh or frozen cranberries, check out this homemade cranberry sauce. Or if you want to use canned cranberries, here's a cranberry sauce with canned cranberries!
- Switch up the liquid: This recipe uses cranberry juice, orange juice and water. However, you can just use water if you want to tone down the sweetness.
- Adjust sweetness: Dried cranberries are quite sweet, so if you want to reduce sweetness, add a pinch of salt or other warm spices (like ginger or cinnamon).
📖 Make cranberry sauce with dried cranberries
Add dried cranberries, orange juice and orange zest, cranberry juice, and sugar to a medium saucepan.
Heat and stir until the mixture starts to boil. Then, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the cranberries plump up, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Make a slurry with cornstarch and water. Slowly drizzle this slurry into the sauce while stirring. Stir for at least one minute, until the sauce thickens.
👩🏽🍳Top Tips to Make the Best Cranberry Sauce
Dried cranberries add a lovely sweetness and depth of flavor to cranberry sauce, and they're also incredibly easy to work with.
Here are five tips for making cranberry sauce with dried cranberries.
- Use high-quality dried cranberries. Some dried cranberries can be excessively tart and may not reconstitute properly. When in doubt, spend a few extra dollars on a good-quality brand like Ocean Spray. You'll be glad you did when your sauce turns out perfectly delicious.
- Soak your dried cranberries in water for at least an hour before beginning to cook your sauce (if you're able to!) This will help them rehydrate properly and plump up nicely.
- Add spice! cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and ginger all pair beautifully with cranberries and will give your sauce an extra kick of flavor. Just be careful not to go overboard—a little goes a long way with these potent spices.
- Adjust tartness. Cooked cranberry sauce can be quite sweet, so if you're looking for a more tart flavor profile, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice towards the end of cooking.
- Finally, don't be afraid to experiment! Rosemary, thyme, orange zest, and even black pepper can all be delicious additions to cranberry sauce. Just use your best judgment and trust your taste buds—you really can't go wrong.
You can use either! There is no need to add any additional sweetener if you're using sweetened cranberries. Depending on which type you use, simply adjust sugar content by adjusting the quantity of sugar.
Yes! Craisins are the same as dried cranberries. Ocean Spray cranberries are called "Craisins" (so it's a branded name for the same item)
No, you don't need to soak the dried cranberries beforehand. You just add them to the saucepan along with the orange juice to rehydrate on the stove.
I like to use unsweetened cranberry juice when I make this recipe, but you can really use any that you like.
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
Store this cranberry sauce in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to four days. You can also make this recipe up to 3 months ahead of time, portion it and freeze it. To defrost, place the amount you need in a saucepan and warm it up over the stove. You can also defrost by moving the portion from the freezer to the fridge the night before.
If you have more dried cranberries, check out these cranberry biscotti with fresh orange zest! I love making this with leftover cranberries after the big day.
You can serve this cranberry sauce with these amazing holiday dishes:
If you like this recipe, check out my other Thanksgiving sides:
Did you make this recipe?! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Cranberry Sauce with Dried Cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup water
- 2 teaspoons orange zest, optional
- 1½ cups dried cranberries
- ¾ cup cranberry juice
- 2 tablespoons corn starch, optional, for thickening
- ¼ cup water, optional, for thickening
- Add dried cranberries, orange juice and orange zest, cranberry juice, and sugar to a medium saucepan.
- Heat and stir until the mixture starts to boil. Then, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the cranberries plump up, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Make a slurry with cornstarch and ¼ cup of water. Slowly drizzle this slurry into the sauce mixture while stirring. Stir for at least one minute, until the sauce thickens. Sauce will thicken more as it cools!
- Plump dried cranberries for a richer flavor and texture: Soaking the dried cranberries in warm water for 15-30 minutes before cooking will help them rehydrate and plump up, resulting in a more flavorful and juicy sauce.
- Add warm spices: Spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger pair beautifully with cranberries, creating a warm and inviting aroma. Just a pinch of each spice will add depth of flavor without overpowering the cranberries.
- Adjust the sweetness to your liking: Cranberry sauce can vary in sweetness depending on personal preference. Start with the suggested amount of sugar in your recipe and adjust to taste, adding more or less depending on your liking.
- Let it cool before serving for a thicker consistency: The cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools, so allow it to rest at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. This will result in a smooth and glossy texture.