I like homemade cranberry sauce because it is so easy and usually much better tasting than anything you can buy. The most basic cranberry sauce recipe calls for whole cranberries, water and sugar. From this basic combination of ingredients, you can really flavor the sauce any way you like. You can add spices or citrus zest, apple or orange juice, and really make the cranberry sauce unique – not to mention make it match your personal flavor preferences or the overall flavors in your meal.
For this cranberry sauce, I decided to play around with the sweeteners in the sauce itself. I used maple syrup and brown sugar to give this cranberry sauce a richer, slightly darker flavor than some cranberry sauces have. The berries themselves are nice and tart, so this sauce isn’t too sweet, but because you can clearly taste the maple and brown sugar notes in the finished dish, it is a wonderful contrast to savory dishes (like turkey and stuffing at Thanksgiving!).
The sauce will thicken as it cools, but it is not as thick as many sauces that come premade from the market. I don’t mind a little extra cranberry juice because it makes the sauce more versatile, perfect for pouring on pancakes and waffles as well as for serving with dinner. If you like yours to be a little thicker, simply cut the water down by half when you’re making the sauce. This sauce can be made a week or so in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Maple Brown Sugar Cranberry Sauce
12-oz fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
Combine cranberries, maple syrup, brown sugar and water in a large saucepan and cook over high heat until cranberries start to pop. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries finish popping and mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract (if using).
Sauce can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.