How to be a Basic: Cranberry Sauce // Wit & Vinegar

Surprise! Another internet post about cranberry sauce.

I realize that there’s approximately 7.2 million recipes out there but the whole point of this series is to show you the basics and there’s nothing more basic than the big bowl of red that maybe half the people at the thanksgiving table actually like.

Growing up we always used the can but sort of mashed up a little so it didn’t look like a can, and then sometime in the early 2000s every single food network host decided it was time to make your own cranberry sauce so my parents gave me that job every thanksgiving after. MTV True Life I hated eating it, but I made it anyways, trying to gussie it up and impress everyone that at some point thought the stuff in the can was good enough.

How to be a Basic: Cranberry Sauce // Wit & VinegarI know cranberry sauce is still a touchy subject for some (I’m still not the craziest about it) but I think there’s people that don’t believe in Thanksgiving without it on the table.

For me I actually like to make it, probably forget it in the fridge, then use it to make all the leftover sandwiches. It’s perfect whipped up with cream cheese for bagels the next day, and next week we’re going to talk about being proactive by mixing it with everyone’s thanksgiving favorite: alcohol.

How to be a Basic: Cranberry Sauce // Wit & VinegarThe thing I love the most about it though is that it’s such a formula that just involves liquid and sugar that you could really do anything you want with it to make it your own. In the end though I really like the tart flavor of the cranberries to shine so my favorite just ends up being super basic with grapefruit juice and peel. Then if we were on a cooking show this is where I would stun the crowd by folding in some pomegranate seeds.

It really is the easiest thing you’ll make for thanksgiving this year and if you’re still kind of meh about it make a half batch and use it for the turkey paninis the next day or a full batch and use the leftovers for cranberry bottom cheesecake bars.

Whatever you do, just promise me you’ll make some for the drinks.


Basic Cranberry Sauce
Makes 2 cups

At the end of the day, the most basic formula is

12oz bag of cranberries + 1 cup liquid + 1 cup of sugar and a baby pinch of salt

Optionally you could fold in a cup of something textural like chopped pecans or some pomegranate seeds right before you serve, and can cook it with some aromatics like citrus peel, a cinnamon stick, chai tea bag, or no more than a half teaspoon of grated ginger.

For the liquid you could literally use whatever you want, water if you don’t have anything else will work, but the most common option is some fresh citrus juice, especially since you can add some citrus peel for extra flavor.

For my favorite sauce I do the bag of cranberries, the sugar and salt, then I take a vegetable peeler and go from the top of the grapefruit to the bottom to get 3 strips of the peel and add that with a cup of fresh grapefruit juice from a couple of grapefruits. Right before I serve it I fold in a cup of pomegranate seeds.

To make the sauce combine everything in a medium size pot, bring it to a boil over a medium high heat, then turn it to the lowest setting and pop a lid on the pot (this protects us from popping cranberries and flying sugar water). Simmer for 10 minutes then remove the lid and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove any aromatics you used and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool completely, sauce will thicken as it cools. Ignore that last picture where it might look thin, it’s totally fine.

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