You might call me crazy (or maybe this is standard?), but cranberry sauce is on top five list of holiday dishes. If cranberry sauce isn’t on my Thanksgiving table, well, it’s not really Thanksgiving. I’m not picky either, growing up my cranberry sauce of choice was the jellied kind from the can. And truth be told, I still like it. However, I like this homemade apple version, with hints of cinnamon and vanilla, much better.
Adding apples to this cranberry sauce gives the sauce some natural sweetness, helping to balance out the tartness of the cranberries. If you’ve never tried a straight up cranberry, it tastes like it has no sweetness at all, just plain tartness. Thus cranberries require lots of sugar to taste like the classic cranberry sauce we’re all used to. I can cut out a little bit of that sugar with the apples which is a win, plus I really like the apple sauce consistency of my sauce, which can only be achieved with, you guessed it, apples.
If you think making homemade cranberry sauce isn’t worth the effort and just a little to extra, I’m not going to judge you for sticking with the can (after all, it’s delicious). But just know that a homemade cranberry sauce is not only ridiculously easy, but also make-ahead and freezer friendly. So maybe worth giving a try, no?
Cranberry Apple Sauce
12 oz fresh cranberries (1 bag)
12 oz cored/chopped gala apple (2 apples)*
1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup*
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a medium saucepan combine fruit, 1/3 cup sweetener, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and 3/4 cup water. Bring liquid to a boil then reduce to medium-low.
Simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Toward the end of cooking, use the back of the cooking spoon to mash the softened apples to achieve desired consistency. Add additional sweetener, to taste.
Allow to cool before transferring to the fridge. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve cold or room temperature.
I don’t peel my apples and cut them into small bite-size pieces because I like a chunkier consistency. For a smoother sauce, peel apples and chop into smaller pieces.
You can use any sweetener you like – maple syrup, honey, raw cane sugar, table sugar, agave, etc. Keep in mind that sweeteners have different sweetness levels, add to sauce accordingly. I like 6 tablespoons of maple syrup for this recipe.
This sauce is freezer friendly, perfect for make-ahead holiday entertaining.