Looking to make a sticky, slightly sweet and tart sauce to pair with appetizers, breakfasts and desserts this holiday season? This Orange Cranberry Compote recipe is an easy recipe to make in advance and serve with all the things, from cheese boards to bruschetta and more. Makes about 6 oz., but can be doubled.
If you’re looking for a recipe to use up a little leftover cranberry sauce, this is it.
Or if you’re hoping to find something to serve easily alongside various breakfasts, lunches, dinners or even desserts throughout the holiday season, this is it.
This easy Cranberry Compote is versatile — and so wonderfully delicious.
It is not a traditional cranberry sauce, though.
Cranberry Compote vs. Cranberry Sauce
According to Merriam-Webster, a compote is “dessert of fruit cooked in syrup.”
Basically, it’s a dessert sauce of sorts.
To my understanding, a compote has a more jam-like consistency with whole fruits while a cranberry sauce is, well, a sauce. Both can involve whole pieces of fruit.
The thing that makes this cranberry compote unique from my various cranberry sauce recipes (like Fresh Cranberry Sauce and Drunken Cranberry Sauce) is that it uses cranberry sauce as a base and combines it with orange and lemon to give extra flavor and stickiness.
It also cooks down significantly more than any of the cranberry sauce recipes on my site to where it has a jammier consistency.
Why I love this recipe:
I am a sucker for all things cranberry throughout the holiday season, and this Cranberry Compote is a newer favorite.
It’s an easy appetizer that you can make a serve alongside bread, a cheese board or more. And you can steal a healthy scoop of your cranberry sauce to get this party started.
We also pair it with a lot of orange, from the actual fruit itself to zest and juice, and it all just sings when it comes together in a delicious spread. It’s a really thick fruit sauce with a rich flavor.
The end result is sticky, tart and just sweet enough to pair with almost anything. Also, it can be a perfect side dish for your holiday table.
The question is: what will you serve it alongside?
What you need to make this recipe:
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Let’s talk ingredients!
In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.
Here’s what you will need to grab from your local grocery store:
- Oranges — I used segments from 2-3 navel oranges. You may use whatever you can find in your grocery. You’ll also need zest AND juice from these oranges.
- Granulated sugar — also known as white sugar, this is going to provide some sweetness to our compote. You could use the same amount of brown sugar, though I prefer granulated for this recipe.
- Cranberry sauce — grab the canned kind or steal a little from the sauce you like to make for the holidays. You don’t need much, but it provides amazing cranberry tartness. You cannot replace this with fresh cranberries. Using the sauce helps our compote cook down more quickly.
- Lemon — we just need the juice from half a large lemon for a little pop of tart acidity.
- Kosher salt — we need just a pinch to balance out the sweetness.
Uses for Cranberry Compote:
- Add it to a holiday charcuterie board, like this Thanksgiving cheese board
- Spread it onto toasted bread as a festive cranberry crostini or bruschetta
- Serve it with dessert, like vanilla ice cream
- Add it to the breakfast table, and serve alongside old fashioned pancakes, waffles or even butter biscuits
- Smear it on a leftover turkey sandwiches
- Serve it at the Thanksgiving table or Friendsgiving dinner table
How to make Orange Cranberry Compote
Prep the ingredients. This means zesting the orange peel, as well as chopping 2-3 oranges to get the segments. Be sure to leave the white pith off of the oranges, as that will create bitterness in the compote. Juice any remaining orange. Juice the lemon, too.
Combine the orange segments, 3 tablespoons of sugar sugar, cranberry sauce, orange zest, orange juice and lemon juice in a medium pot or saucepan. Add a pinch of salt.
Heat over medium-high heat.
Bring to a boil, and let it cook for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened and jammy.
Give it a taste at this point! You can add more sugar, if necessary. I like a more tart compote, which is why I suggest starting with 3 tablespoons of sugar. If you like it sweeter, add a sprinkle more sugar at this point to sweeten it to your tastebuds
Lower the heat to low heat let it continue cooking until the orange segments have completely broken down. This will take about 20 minutes. Cooking time will vary, depending on the strength of your stovetop.
Transfer to a mason jar or another airtight container, and let cool to room temperature.
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week until it’s time to serve with sweet or savory dishes.
How to make Cranberry Crostini
Toast and slice a baguette.
Serve the warm bread alongside the compote with a spoon and a small bowl of crumbled feta cheese. (You could also use goat cheese.)
Allow guests to prepare their crostini to their liking, and enjoy! It’s the perfect addition for a happy hour before the main meal.
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
This compote is an excellent recipe to make throughout the holiday season because it’s flavorful and easy to serve to guest.
If you want to entertain this season and share this compote, here are some tips:
- Make a few batches of it. This is an easy recipe to make batches of since it’s easy to put together and doesn’t take a ton of time.
- Make it early. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week, and you can also throw it into the freezer for about a month.
- Serve it alongside a variety of dishes. Compote can be served with dessert (think ice cream and angel food cake), as well as breakfast (alongside classic buttermilk pancakes, waffles and even cream biscuits.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. This compote recipe can be frozen for up to a month. Defrost it in the fridge.
You can pair cranberry sauce and cranberry compote with so many things, sweet and savory. I love it smeared on a piece of toast, as well as on top of vanilla ice cream.
Technically, compote is different than jam, though they are very similar. It’s thicker and is made using whole fruits. Masterclass has a wonderful deep dive on compote vs. jam, if you want to learn more.
This compote will keep for a week in the fridge and a month in the freezer.
Quick Tips and Tricks for the best cranberry compote
- Make it early. Since this keeps in the fridge and freezes, there’s no reason to be making it the same day you’re serving it.
- Use homemade cranberry sauce… or grab a can at the store to make it easy as pie. (I like to take a scoop of our homemade sauce for this, but that’s not necessary.)
- How to store: Store in an airtight container or a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. Freeze in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to a month.
More recipes to pair this compote with:
Now here’s how to make it…
Orange Cranberry Compote
Orange Cranberry Compote
- 1 cup navel orange segments about 2-3, peeled and quartered
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cranberry sauce
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons orange juice freshly squeezed
- ½ lemon juiced
- Pinch of kosher salt
Orange Cranberry Compote Crostini
- 1 baguette toasted and sliced (12 oz.)
- Orange Cranberry Compote recipe above
- ¼ cup Feta cheese crumbles for sprinkling
Make the Orange Cranberry Compote
- Add the orange segments, 3 tablespoons of sugar, cranberry sauce, orange zest, orange juice and lemon juice to a medium saucepan. Season with a pinch of kosher salt, and give it a stir.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, allowing to cook for 10-15 minutes.
- Taste the compote as it thickens and add additional sugar, if necessary. (Do this to your taste, obviously. If you like a sweeter compote, add 1-2 more tablespoons of sugar here until it tastes ideal. We're starting with 3 tablespoons so it's more tart, and you can doctor it as needed.)
- Let bubble until the orange breaks down completely, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer to a mason jar, and let cool to room temperature.
- Store in the refrigerator until time to serve.
Make the Crostini
- Toast and slice the baguette into rounds.
- Serve the warm bread alongside the compote with a spoon and a small bowl of crumbled feta cheese.
- Allow guests to prepare their bruschetta to their liking, and enjoy!