cranberry sauce

Roasted Cranberry Sauce

This cranberry sauce might be more of a relish than a sauce, but whatever you call it, it's really tasty.


Roasted Cranberry Sauce

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A huge event is happening next week. And no, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving. I’m talking about the first time that Betsy and I host our very own Thanksgiving! It’s a big deal because it plants us firmly in the you’re-all-grown-up world.

As you might imagine, I’m taking the whole thing a bit seriously even though, in actuality, we are only hosting three people. It’s still a big deal though! A big enough deal that I ordered a 20 pound turkey.

What? Four pounds per person? Betsy thought that was a bit ambitious, but let me just say: “Mother, if you’re reading this, BRING TUPPERWARE.”

On the subject of Thanksgiving, it’s been my experience though that while a poorly cooked bird can sometimes ruin the meal, really delicious side dishes can 100% make the meal very memorable. So I want to devote this week on Macheesmo to those side dishes.

I’m starting with one of the most abused side dishes in Thanksgiving history: Cranberry sauce. I’ll just be blunt. If you’re going to spend all day making a huge feast of a meal, put down the can opener and make some real cranberry sauce. You can even do it in advance. It’s stuff like this though that will stand out on the table.

cranberry sauce

Roasted Cranberry Sauce

This cranberry sauce might be more of a relish than a sauce, but whatever you call it, it’s really tasty.
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Prep Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Side Dishes
Servings 6 Servings
Yield 3 Cups


  • 1 pound fresh cranberries
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary minced
  • 1 Teaspoon fresh thyme minced
  • 1 Teaspoon fresh sage minced
  • ¼ Cup Triple Sec
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ Cup currants you could sub raisins, but chop them roughly so they aren’t so big
  • Pinch of salt


  • 1 Cup pecans roughly chopped
  • ¼ Cup Triple Sec
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • ¼ Cup sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon fresh rosemary sage, and thyme, minced


  • Mix sugar, cranberries, herbs, and oil in a large bowl and then spread out on a heavy baking sheet.
  • Roast at 425 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until the cranberries are deflated and most of the liquid is cooked out.  Stir once, half way through.
  • Meanwhile, combine Triple Sec, apple cider vinegar, and currants in a pot over medium-low heat.  Simmer for 10 minutes while the cranberries roast to let currants soak up liquid.
  • When cranberries are done, add them to pot with currants and stir well to combine.
  • Let this mixture chill until cold.  It’s best to make it the day before.
  • For the pecans, add sugar, triple sec, and vinegar in a small pan and bring to a simmer.  Cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick, a few minutes.
  • Add chopped pecans and stir so they are coated.  Then pour pecans onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Roast at 425 degrees until pecans are lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Let cool and then break up the pecans.
  • Serve cranberries with pecans on top.


Pretty heavily adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe.


Serving: 0.5CupCalories: 484kcalCarbohydrates: 82gProtein: 1gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.05gSodium: 83mgPotassium: 176mgFiber: 4gSugar: 73gVitamin A: 80IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 37mgIron: 1mg
Keyword cranberry sauce, Homemade Cranberry Sauce, Roasted Cranberry Sauce, Thanksgiving Sides

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Roasting the cranberries

Roasting the cranberries really intensifies their flavor but also mellows out the bitterness a bit. The sugar helps with that also. It looks like a lot of sugar, but you’ll lose some of it in the roasting pan. Also, who cares? It’s Thanksgiving. Just go with it.

cran and sugar
Remember, cranberries are tart things.

It shouldn’t surprise you to see the Thanksgiving trio of herbs in this dish. You’ll need them for both the cranberries and the pecans and probably for every other dish you make for Thanksgiving.


Stir the cranberries, sugar, oil, and herbs in a big bowl and then lay them out on a large baking sheet.

ready to roast
Ready to go.

Bake these at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, take the cranberries out and stir them well. Push them toward the center of the pan.

Meanwhile, you’ll need some of these guys (NOT PICTURED: apple cider vinegar).

Plus apple cider vinegar!

The original recipe called for red wine, but I wanted an orange flavor, hence triple sec. The problem that I quickly realized was the Triple Sec is really sweet and I worried that my final sauce would be way too sweet. So I added some apple cider vinegar to the mix and it worked like a charm.

Mix the triple sec, currants, and vinegar in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until it simmers. Simmer it so the currants absorb a lot of the flavors. Simmer for about 10 minutes while your cranberries roast.

Keep a close eye on the cranberries so they don’t burn. You might have some burned syrupy sauce around the edges of the baking pan, which is fine. Just don’t use that.

Your cranberries are done when they are mostly deflated and a lot of the liquid is cooked off. This is about perfect. I didn’t use any of the blackish sauce around the edges.

Smellin’ good.

Move the cranberries to the pot with the currants and simmer for another minute. Add a pinch of salt and combine well.

Let this cool completely before serving. This means that it’s probably best to make the day before which is nice anyway.

This stuff is really good though.


Making the Pecans

Texture is very important on a dish like this and as is, the cranberry sauce is kinda of mushy. Adding some roasted, candied pecans to the mix gives it a fantastic crunchy topping. It brings the dish from good to great. You could leave out the pecans though if you don’t have time.

To make them, combine the sugar, triple sec, and apple cider vinegar in a small pan and bring to simmer. Simmer until thick (a few minutes), then add the herbs and pecans. Stir well to coat the pecans with the syrup mixture and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

More roasting…

Bake these guys at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they are lightly browned.

Let them cool for a minute and then break them up into small pieces.

You could make a huge serving of these and have them around as a snack also. They’re awesome to munch on.

Lightly candied.

When you’re ready to serve it, just sprinkle the pecans on the cranberry and you’re all set.

all together
Maybe the best cranberry sauce I’ve had.

I know that cranberry sauce seems like a small part of the meal, but trust me. If you take the time to make something like this, people will remember it.

14 Responses to “Roasted Cranberry Sauce” Leave a comment

  1. Nick, I'm totally going to make this dish. My in-laws always use the canned cranberry, though no one even touches is. (I guess it's more like a table decoration than anything.) I'll give this a test run this week before springing it on them at the extended-family Thanksgiving dinner next week. Thanks for the recipe! Looks delish!

  2. Nick, this looks great. A tradition in my family is a cranberry relish…sugar, fresh cranberries, oranges, and walnuts in a food processor together. Delicious! This looks great, too. I think we'll make it. Would ginger also work in this dish?
    Can you give us a hint of what recipes we can expect this week from you? Menu prep is underway!

    1. Oh sure! Wed is a mashed potato dish and Thursday is a spin on green bean casserole. The rest is kind of up in the air :)

  3. Hi Nick. I did a test run of this recipe tonight….at least the cranberry sauce part of it. Just about everyone at my Thanksgiving meal this year is on the Weight Watchers diet, so I thought I'd try to make this with them in mind. Around here, cranberries come in 12 oz. bags, so I used that and not a full pound. Plus, I substituted Splenda for the sugar. I used raisins (they don't have currants in my small town grocery). I suppose the sugar would make a syrup that I didn't get with the Splenda option, so my sauce was more of a paste than the nice soupy sauce you show here. To compensate, I added about 3-4 T of orange juice. That triple sec really does give it an unusual, pleasant flavor. I decided it was still too tart, so I added about another 1/4 cup of Splenda. Then I put it in the fridge to let it cool. Still a bit pasty. I think more orange juice would throw the flavors off, so I'll probably add some water if it doesn't get some nice condensation as it cools. My major concern is that once the cranberries deflated, that 1/2 cup of raisins seem to dominate the sauce. I think it needs twice as many cranberries….maybe a pound and a half to two pounds. But… least I tried with the dieters.

    I think when I make this low-cal version again, I'll leave out the vinegar, use a little more triple sec, and maybe add some Splenda to the simmering pot before adding the cranberries in. By the way, I love the oomph the rosemary gives this dish.

  4. I could spend some serious time here just looking for ways to make cranberry relish or sauce or cranberry something for Tday – and every recipie I find looks more yummy than the last! now I have covered 2 pieces of scrap paper with notes, so I'll have to let the family weigh in. i'll be back. great site & happy thanksgiving !

  5. Making this now. Substituted the sugar for honey and the triple sec for orange juice. The topping isn’t finished yet but the sauce is divine. THANKS!

  6. That’s way, way, way away too much work for fresh cranberry sauce. Sheesh! Cranberries are supposed to be a little ‘bitter’ they’re cranberries for Petes sake. Mine is nice and fresh with oranges, etc.
    Ok, that’s my 2 cents.

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