Friday, December 12, 2014

Kentucky Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

I live in New England, so it's a must to have cranberry sauce on our holiday table. Aged Kentucky bourbon, citrus and spice make this recipe a winner. It's my tried and true favorite cranberry sauce...ruby-red, tangy and sweet. 

My uncle once ate an entire bowl full. He kept quietly spooning it onto his plate, hoping no one would notice. But of course, I did. A nurse I work with has to make a triple batch because her family loves it so much. I think you'll have a hard time resisting it too. It's wonderful on everything from turkey, to brie to cheesecake.  

Bourbon Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Some notes:

This is a pleasantly tart and tangy sauce. If you'd like it sweeter, add more sugar. An orange-lime combo, along with the bourbon, complements the cranberries in a deliciously festive way.

I bought a nip of Jim Beam Black Label Kentucky Bourbon for this recipe. Two tablespoons of it added to the sauce gives a pleasant, but not overpowering, oakey-bourbon flavor. If you'd like less of a bourbon flavor, use one tablespoon.

Watery cranberry sauce is not too appealing on one's plate. So, I use cornstarch mixed with a little water to thicken it a bit. A cornstarch and cold water solution thickens the sauce and makes it glossy. For me, this is a necessary step.  An alternative, tasteless thickener is one teaspoon potato starch mixed with one teaspoon of cold water. The more of these mixtures you use, the thicker the sauce will be. It also gets thicker as it cools.

The sauce a keeps for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge. It can be frozen a week in advance too. Thaw it in the fridge. In a pinch, you can even thaw it in the microwave. A real time saver!

Double this recipe if serving more than 4 or if you want leftovers for sandwiches.


  • 1 12-ounce bag of whole cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium oranges, zested and juiced
  • 1 small lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons of bourbon (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, divided. I use Vietnamese Cinnamon.  
  • 1 cup of sugar 
  • 1 cup of water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water (see notes)


    Place the cranberries, sugar, water, salt, orange juice, orange zest, lime zest, half of the lime juice and one teaspoon of cinnamon in a pot and bring to a gentle boil over medium to medium-high heat. Cover and cook until the cranberries have popped and formed a sauce. Keep an eye on it. Stir and adjust the heat as needed. I helps to smush some of the berries with the back of your spoon.    

    Turn off the heat and add the bourbon, away from the heat source. Be careful when adding alcohol to any hot sauce. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a boil to burn off the alcohol. Keep it on a gentle boil and stir in the cornstarch/water mixture. Let it cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Stir in the rest of the lime juice and the 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. 

    Happy Holidays Everyone!

    Bon Appetit!   

    xo ~Jilly   


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