Vanilla-Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

Confession time–I come from a “slide the jelled cranberry sauce out of the can” family. I realize that’s one of the cardinal foodie sins, but that’s how we’ve always done it. My mom and I are the only ones in the family who like cranberry sauce, and there’s just something fantastic about the kitsch factor of cylindrical cranberry jelly with the can rings still imprinted on it.

But no more. This year, my mom decided we should make real cranberry sauce and I am so glad. I’ve been wanting to do it for years, but it just never happened for one reason or another. I started with a very basic water, sugar, and cranberry recipe, then jazzed it up using some of the flavors I saw Bobby Flay use on a recent episode of “Iron Chef”. Oh wow! The difference was incredible!

So I guess I have to say goodbye to my jellied cranberries in a can. I’m sorry to break it to them, but I really don’t think I’ll miss them!

Vanilla-Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

original recipe, inspired by Bobby Flay


1 c. water

1 c. sugar

12 oz. fresh cranberries

1 TBSP good bourbon (I like Maker’s Mark)

seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

zest of half an orange


1. In a medium pot with high sides (the sauce will bubble up quite a bit), combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil.

2. Add in remaining four ingredients and reduce heat to medium. Cook for ten minutes.

3. Cool completely before serving; this could easily be made the night before.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. KMAYS
    December 27, 2008 / 3:28 pm

    The vanilla and bourbon with the cranberries sounds fantastic!

  2. Joelen
    December 27, 2008 / 4:42 pm

    Oh wow – this is one serious cranberry sauce! I love the addition of vanilla and bourbon!

  3. chumpman
    December 28, 2008 / 5:07 pm

    wow, awesome! the cranberry sauce looks great and appetizing!

  4. Peabody
    December 31, 2008 / 9:43 am

    Bourbon in cranberry sauce sounds like the way to go! Have a happy and healthy 2009!

  5. Anonymous
    November 24, 2011 / 7:47 pm

    Great sauce!! Rekindled our love for one of the healthiest dishes on the holiday table.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *