Every year growing up, my parents would host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, turkey and all. It’s one of the biggest holidays we celebrate as a family, right up there with Persian New Year. Nearly 40 years ago, my parents immigrated to the U.S. from Iran, and Thanksgiving was one of the first American holidays my parents grasped onto.
For as long as I can remember, I was in the kitchen helping prep for Thanksgiving. I played sous chef, grocery runner, taste tester (the best!) and table setter (the worst). When I was old enough to start cooking, I had my sights set on making my favorite side dish at the table: cranberry sauce. Not only did I love eating it by the spoonful, but it also took only 15 minutes to make. Totally doable for my ten year old self.
Not much has changed since then. I still make the cranberry sauce for my family, plus a few other sides and sometimes, the turkey. To mix things up, I’ve tried different variations of cranberry sauce, a batch with orange zest, another batch heavy on the cloves, you name it. But ultimately, I come back to the same old thang.
Meet my Boozy Cranberry Sauce. The tart flavor of the cranberries is balanced by the sweetness of the orange juice and of course, some sugar. I like to throw in a cinnamon stick to spice it up without overwhelming the cranberry flavor. At the very end, I pull the sauce off the heat and stir in some Grand Marnier, an orange-flavored cognac liqueur. Since the sauce is still hot when you take it off the burner, the residual heat cooks off some of the alcohol. But definitely not all of it, keeping this recipe true to its name. Sidenote: If you want to cook off all of the alcohol, add it while the pan is still over the heat. I’m *pretty* sure I did this when I was a kid.
If you’re hosting Friendsgiving or bringing a side to one, this is a must make recipe. The best news is that you can make it a few days before the big day. Just store it in the refrigerator, then leave out a few hours before serving to bring it to room temp. Be sure to check out our Simple Roast Turkey recipe for your Friendsgiving menu!
What You Need
12 oz fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup orange juice (freshly squeezed preferred)
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Plastic spatula or spoon (wood will stain)
Rinse cranberries with cold water using a strainer, and remove any berries that have gone bad or large stems.
Bring to boil.
Add cranberries, sugar, water, orange juice, and cinnamon stick to a medium saucepan. Stir. Bring mixture to a boil, and let cook for 5-7 minutes. Some of the cranberries will pop while other will remain whole.
Cool and serve!
Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in Grand Marnier and kosher salt. Remove cinnamon stick. Let cool before serving.