Sweet and spicy, Drunken Cranberry Sauce pairs perfectly with a traditional holiday dishes like turkey, gravy and stuffing. Ready within 15 minutes, this lightning fast spiced cranberry sauce side dish adds sweetness to a meal. Makes 6-8 servings.
This Drunken Cranberry Sauce recipe was originally published on November 13, 2013. The blog post was updated and republished in November 2020.
This dish sounds a lot boozier than it actually is.
The cranberries aren’t really drunk; they’re just jazzed up by a little spiced rum. Because rum jazzes us all up sometimes, right? Right.
This dish was conceived and executed about, oh, 10 minutes before we sat down for a Friendsgiving dinner years ago.
I’d purchased cranberries, knowing I wanted to make a simple cranberry sauce for the meal with them, and I completely forgot about them until everyone was at our home, and we were carving the turkey.
There’s something so sweet and lovely about a simple side, and this cranberry sauce is that to a tee.
This spiced cranberry sauce is sweet, simple and pretty darn tasty.
Other holiday recipes that involve cranberries: Cranberry Turkey Puff Pastry Tartlets | Cranberry Feta Brussels Sprout Salad with Candied Pecans and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette | Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney
Need holiday food inspiration? Be sure to swing by my Thanksgiving Recipe Index for tons of recipes!
What you need to make Spiced Cranberry Sauce
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In addition to the tools above, you’ll need a few ingredients, too.
- Fresh cranberries
- Spiced rum
- Orange juice—freshly squeezed, if possible, but the bottled stuff works, too
- Brown sugar—my recipe says to use dark brown sugar, but light brown sugar works, as well.
How to make Drunken Cranberry Sauce
In a large saucepan, combine the cranberries with the rum, orange juice and brown sugar.
Cook until the cranberries have popped (watch out! they’ll be hot!) and the sauce begins thickening. This takes around 10 minutes, depending on how hot your stove gets and how evenly your pan cooks.
When the sauce has thickened, remove from the saucepan, and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve it warm or cold at the holiday table!
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips and Tricks
There’s not much more quentessential than homemade cranberry sauce at the holiday table, and I love this recipe for entertaining.
Why? It’s so simple!
Here are a few tips and tricks for making this cranberry sauce recipe for a crowd:
- Make it in advance. This Spiced Cranberry Sauce can be served warm or cold, and it keeps well in the fridge. Cook it 1-2 days before your gathering, and keep it cool in the refrigerator until it’s serving time.
- Double the recipe. If your people love cranberry sauce, you’ll definitely want to do this! This recipe never lasts long with my family because we adore the combination of sweet and tart.
Frequently Asked Questions
What spice goes well with cranberries?
Warming spices, like cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg, pair beautifully with cranberries. Consequently, you can get hints of these spices in this cranberry sauce from the spiced rum.
How do you thicken homemade cranberry sauce?
This homemade cranberry sauce recipe thickens because of the combination of cranberry juices paired with the sugar. We want the cranberries to burst as they cook and release those juices and mingle with the sugar… and then cook off a little so the sauce gets sticky. 🙂
How long will homemade cranberry sauce keep?
When stored in a food-safe storage container in the refrigerator, this spiced cranberry sauce can last for 5-7 days.
What other dishes can I serve alongside this Drunken Cranberry Sauce at the holiday table?
Here are a few of our favorite holiday dishes…
- Vegan Fresh Green Bean Casserole
- Bacon and Baguette Stuffing
- Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole
- Creamed Cornbread Casserole
- Browned Butter Sage Turkey
Interested in making this super simple, super flavorful cranberry sauce at home this holiday season?
Scroll on down to learn how you can make it at home!
Sweet and spicy, Drunken Cranberry Sauce pairs perfectly with a traditional holiday dinner of turkey, gravy and stuffing. Ready within 15 minutes, this lightning fast side dish adds sweetness to a meal. Fresh cranberries cook with spiced rum, orange juice and brown sugar to make this delightful recipe. Drunken Cranberry Sauce is what you'll want to serve at the Thanksgiving, Christmas and holiday party tables!
- 12 oz. fresh cranberries, whole
- 1 oz. spiced rum
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 cup brown sugar (dark brown or light brown OK)
- In a saucepan, combine the cranberries with the orange juice and brown sugar.
- Heat over medium heat, and cook, for about 10 minutes, or until cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened.
- Pour in the rum, and stir, cooking until it has evaporated.
- Serve warm or cold as a side dish at the holiday table.
In recent years, I've used ¾ cup of brown sugar instead of a full cup, and I really like how the cranberries are a bit more tart. If you're concerned that this might be too sweet for you, try ¾ cup instead of the full cup!
How to Store: When the cranberry sauce has finished cooking, transfer to a serving dish, and let cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator up to 4 days before you're planning to serve it. When it's time to serve, simply unwrap it and transfer to the table!
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Serving Size:1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 121Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 7mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 25gProtein: 0g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.