Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Mandarin Oranges

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

This spiced cranberry sauce makes me feel like we are having thanksgiving dinner. I knew cranberry sauce “had” to be at thanksgiving dinner. There are even joke pages just about cranberry sauce since it’s the underdog at Thanksgiving. Once I experimented with a few different recipes, I came up with this orange and spice cranberry sauce and make it every year for thanksgiving.

Mandarin Oranges in Spiced Cranberry Sauce

It’s a bit more rustic with chunks of mandarin oranges and cranberries in it. I have done this with canned mandarin oranges and love the taste the oranges bring to the dish, but the texture is absent. The canned mandarin oranges just disintegrate into the dish. This dish is best made with fresh mandarin oranges. I also love spices so I put enough in that I can taste them. If you tend to like less than add less or completely omit the cloves and ginger.

Substituting Sugar

Cranberries are a very tart fruit. They do require a lot of sweetness to balance out the tart. I used apple juice instead of water to bring in some natural sweetness. To bring down the sugar more I bet apple sauce would help. What do you do to cut the sugar from the dish? Substitute white sugar with brown sugar, honey or maple syrup. Overall, the cranberry sauce is not overly sweet and even lends to a bit of tartness.

Color of Spiced Cranberry Sauce

The other thing I love about having cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner is the color. The red is such a nice balance with browns and greens of a lot of other dishes at Thanksgiving. See it featured below with turkey, roasted balsamic asparagus, stuffing mashed potatoes and gravy. The red also segues so nicely into Christmas and why it’s so often used at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Are you a spiced cranberry sauce fan or no?

Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

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Side Dish
Serves: 6
Prep Time: 15 min Cooking Time: 15 min


  • 12 oz of fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 mandarin oranges (and their zest)



1) Zest mandarin oranges. Reserve the zest.


2) Peel and break apart the oranges.


3) In a medium sized saucepan, combine the cranberries, apple juice, sugar, cloved, ginger, and cinnamon.


4)Bring to a boil until cranberries begin to burst open.


5) Simmer ingredients for about 10 minutes.


6) Remove from stove and add the zest and oranges to the mixture.


7) Can be served warm or cold.


Excellent to make ahead of time it's easy (great dish to prepare ahead of time for thanksgiving) and can be eaten cold.

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