Thanksgiving Day Bourbon Cranberry Sauce with Candied Walnuts


I have a confession to make. I used to be afraid of cranberry sauce. This was 100% due to the cranberry sauce that always adorned the table on Thanksgiving when I was a kid. The canned stuff that falls out in the shape of a log. Do you slice it? Do you mash it? I dunno. I didn’t touch the stuff. Often one of the flavors that accompanies Thanksgiving-inspired sandwiches (these sandwiches are abound in Portland right now), is cranberry sauce. Guess what? I avoid those sandwiches, too.

Most people I know sing the praises of cranberry sauce, which means they’re thrilled to have a swiping of cranberry sauce on one of the pieces of bread anchoring a Thanksgiving-inspired turkey sandwich. In an effort to conquer my fear, I decided to buy some fresh cranberries this year to add to the dinner Thanksgiving dinner table. I found what sounded like a very palatable recipe on Joanne Ozug’s blog. I liked this recipe because it transformed Joanne’s opinion of cranberries. However, I didn’t have any spiced rum and didn’t feel like buying any just for one recipe. I did, however, have some bourbon in my cupboard. So I found three recipes (at foodista.combon appetit and and sorta combined the three.


  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 c. bourbon
  • 2 T. orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • Candied Walnuts



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a 8×8-inch oven-safe baking dish, stir together everything but the bourbon and juice. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes; remove from oven and stir well to dissolve remaining sugar. Continue baking another 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven, stir in bourbon and juice then allow to cool at least slightly.  Stir in candied walnuts. Serve warm or at room temperature; refrigerate up to one week.


The verdict? Fear conquered! Though my entire family was too stuffed from all the other Thanksgiving goodies on the table, we each took a bite of the sauce and declared it much better than we possibly imagined it could be. I would definitely make it again another year – especially if I have actual cranberry lovers around the dining room table. That being said, I’m not quite sure I’m ready to slather it on some bread or a roll to use in a sandwich.

Baby steps, my friends.

Recipe rating: 


  1. Confession: I’m a cranberry lover. Love to see it on the table (and on those sandwiches you mentioned). I’m one of the few who does enjoy it around these parts, but I make a version of sauce or relish every year. Between the spices and the addition of bourbon, I’m sure I would love your version too! Thanks for sharing your recipe with us!


    1. Thanks, Allison! I’m hoping (now that I’ve dared to try them) that I’ll become one of those cranberry lovers who will smear it on a sandwich 🙂 I noticed you’ve made a cranberry relish that uses an orange in its entirety. I saw a few similar recipes in my research. I’m in awe of using a whole orange but think I should dare to try it – perhaps next year. 🙂


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