You'll love this mandarin orange cranberry sauce recipe. It's a perfect side dish for Holiday meals, whether it is at your Thanksgiving table, for Christmas, or for New Year.
This sweet-tangy homemade cranberry sauce can complement so many dishes—it's good on everything—and since it freezes well, you can enjoy it all year long.
Usually, I make this beautiful cranberry sauce with mandarin oranges every year in the winter season when fresh bags of cranberries pop up everywhere in the store.
And it's not just something I prepare to fill up the Holiday table. Just like my Rhubarb Compote, it has so many versatile uses.
So, if you have a soft spot like me for anything sweet and tart, then make this easy recipe and keep a jar or two of this jam-like mandarin orange cranberry sauce in the fridge or freezer.
And unless you are quite nostalgic about the canned stuff, I'd say homemade is better. So let's make it!
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Let's look at the few ingredients you'll need to make this whole-berry cranberry sauce recipe.
- Fresh or frozen cranberries: Cranberry season is short—from October to January— and I try to buy them fresh during that time of the year. You can also buy them in bulk by the end of the season when they are on sale and freeze them for later use.
- Mandarin orange juice: It will naturally balance cranberries' tartness, reduce their bitter flavor, and help burst open the cranberries over the stove.
- Coconut sugar: It adds a deep flavor and a mildly sweet taste to the cranberry sauce without overpowering it.
- Unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative: Butter or coconut oil balances out the sweet and tart flavors and adds that irresistible creaminess to this sauce.
How To Make This Cranberry Sauce
See the full recipe with measurements in the recipe card.
Let's make this amazing mandarin orange cranberry sauce together.
Step One (Picture 1 above) - In a medium saucepan, melt (coconut) butter over medium heat.
Step Two (Picture 2 above) - Add cranberries and combine them with melted butter.
Step Three (Picture 3 above) - Simmer steadily for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Allow cranberries to pop open, but don't let the liquid come to a boil.
Step Four (Picture 4 above) - Reduce heat to low and add the juice of mandarin oranges.
Step Five (Picture 5 above) - Add coconut or brown sugar. Optional: add Brandy.
Step Six (Picture 6 above) - Stir to combine and bring the mixture back to a gentle simmer.
Step Seven (Picture 7 above) - Simmer for 15 minutes or until berries have broken down and somewhat thickened, stirring occasionally.
Step Eight (Picture 8 above) - Taste test and add more sugar, if needed. Stir in fresh mandarin slices. Transfer the cranberry orange sauce to a serving bowl or to an airtight container to serve later. Refrigerate to set. It will thicken more as it cools.
- If using frozen cranberries, rinse them in cold water and use them like fresh cranberries directly in this recipe—no need to defrost.
- If you plan to add a bit of Brandy, I suggest adding at least half a cup of any sweetener to even out the intensity of its flavors.
- The sauce naturally thickens as most of the liquid cooks off. Don't overcook and reduce the sauce too much on the stove because it will thicken further as it cools down.
- Listen to your cranberries! Cranberries will start to pop on the stove and burst open (about 5 minutes in). But you may need to mash some of them with a wooden spoon while stirring to help some of them out unless you like a chunkier texture.
- Instead of fresh, use frozen cranberries.
- You can also use orange juice or juice of clementines, a hybrid of mandarin and sweet oranges. Around the Holiday season, these fruits are easy to find in the produce section at your local grocery stores as a favorite winter citrus snack.
- Don't have any coconut sugar or don't use it that often? Replace it with maple syrup or brown sugar.
- Use coconut oil instead of butter to make a vegan cranberry sauce.
- Instead of Brandy, you can also use some cognac, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau—French orange liqueur like in my Instant Pot Apple Butter Recipe. Port is another great option if that's what you have on hand instead.
For storage, I prefer to use mason jars with an airtight lid or an airtight container. Transfer leftover cranberry sauce to the jar(s).
Once slightly cooled, seal and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
You can freeze it for up to 3 months. Then, when ready to use it, thaw overnight in the fridge.
A fresh cranberry sauce or spread is so much more than a simple side dish on a fancy Holiday table.
So, if you're wondering what goes with cranberry sauce or ways to use leftovers after Thanksgiving day, then here are a few ideas.
For breakfast: Serve it as a buttery fruit spread on toast or oat flour pancakes or as a topping on chia seed puddings or yogurt paired with crunchy steel-cut oats granola.
For dessert: Spread it on a slice of yeast cake or my orange clove butter bread. Or add a couple of spoons to these gluten-free brownies and some vanilla ice cream.
As an add-on: It'll taste delicious when spread in between two buttery chocolate chip cookies, over a slice of cheesecake, or with this healthy apple crumble.
For sandwiches, meat dishes, and more: Leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches are not the only ones to use up that cranberry sauce. Make chocolate peanut butter and cranberry sandwiches, add it as a condiment on grazing boards, or pair it with Juicy Turkey Burgers on The Stove, or as a compote to mashed potatoes or a cauliflower mash—simply delicious.
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Have questions? Simply comment below or message me. If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and a starred review below. Thank you!
Here you have it, a delicious, easy-to-make homemade mandarin orange cranberry sauce that is so worth making. Enjoy!
Mandarin Orange Cranberry SauceMariska Ramondino
- 2 tablespoons organic butter or coconut oil to keep it vegan-friendly
- 12 ounces organic fresh or frozen cranberries 340 grams
- 1 cup fresh clementine or mandarin orange juice the juice of about 6 to 8 mandarins or clementines. You can also use fresh orange juice.
- ¼ cup coconut sugar (35 grams) or up to ½ cup if you prefer it sweeter. You can also use brown sugar or maple syrup instead.
- 2 tablespoons brandy optional—up to ¼ cup or 15 grams based on preference. You can also use cognac, port, or cointreau.
- 1 or two extra peeled mandarins for garnish
- In a 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.2 tablespoons organic butter or coconut oil
- Add the cranberries and stir to coat them with the melted butter.12 ounces organic fresh or frozen cranberries
- Bring the mixture to a steady simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, frequently stirring, allowing the cranberries to pop open. Don't let it come to a boil.
- Note: you can hear them pop open, almost like popping popcorn.
- After 5 minutes, or when most of the cranberries have popped open and become mushy, reduce the heat to low.
- Stir in the mandarin orange juice and the coconut sugar. Optional: add Brandy.1 cup fresh clementine or mandarin orange juice, ¼ cup coconut sugar (35 grams), 2 tablespoons brandy
- Bring the mixture back to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or until berries have broken down and somewhat thickened, occasionally stirring.
- Crush any remaining unpopped cranberries with a wooden spoon during stirring.
- Taste test and add more sugar for a sweeter taste, if preferred.
- Stir in extra mandarin slices (optional).1 or two extra peeled mandarins for garnish
- Remove from stove and allow the spread to cool.
- Enjoy immediately or transfer to glass jar containers.
- Seal and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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Nutrition (% Daily value)
Disclaimer: This nutritional data is calculated using third party tools and is only intended as a reference.