My apple cider cranberry sauce is the perfect blend of spiced apples, sweet sparkling apple cider, and tangy cranberries for Thanksgiving! It’s an easy-to-make cranberry sauce that is sure to be a new family favorite for the holidays!
Tart, sweet, and full of juicy apple flavor – this elevated cranberry sauce is going to be such a hit at your holiday gathering!
Cranberry sauce is a holiday favorite – but you might not always want the canned stuff! My fresh apple cider cranberry sauce is an amazing twist on a classic and a great way to get your cranberry sauce fix!
My cranberry sauce has delicious apple cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise seed, and fresh apple to make it the most flavorful cranberry sauce you’ll ever taste! The best part is it will make your entire house smell like fall!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe!
Super Easy! This cranberry sauce is ready in just 35 minutes! Simply add the ingredients to a saucepan and cook until thickened. It’s the easiest cranberry sauce ever!
A Holiday Classic! Cranberry sauce is a must on my holiday dinner table! If it is for yours, this is the perfect recipe for you!
It’s Unique! The apple cider and sliced apple adds a fresh, sweet apple flavor to the cranberry sauce that’s a unique and delicious addition! This simple twist to the usual creates a delightfully elevated cranberry sauce!
My apple cider cranberry sauce is so good! If you can find anise seed, it’s so worth it to use in the recipe!
- Apple Cider – Instead of water, you’ll use apple cider for the cranberry sauce! It adds a sweet apple flavor that works perfectly! You can also use sparkling apple cider if you have it! Yum!
- Sugar – Cranberries are super tart, so some sugar is necessary for cranberry sauce! You can use granulated white sugar here.
- Brown Sugar – Brown sugar is wonderful in this recipe because it adds a deeper flavor to the cranberry sauce!
- Cinnamon – I love adding a little spice to my cranberry sauce – cinnamon is terrific here!
- Nutmeg – I like to use freshly ground, but you can use ground nutmeg if you have it! Nutmeg helps to add a little balance to the cranberry sauce.
- Anise Seed – Anise has a licorice-like flavor that works well in the cranberry sauce! Just a pinch is all we need here, so it will just complement the flavor, not overwhelm!
- Salt – I like to add a pinch of salt to balance the flavors of the cranberry sauce!
- Apple – You’ll want the apple to be washed, peeled, and sliced for this recipe. Use your favorite variety of apple! (See Tips & Recipe Notes)
- Fresh Cranberries – Fresh cranberries are what makes this cranberry sauce so delicious! They should be rinsed, and any bruised cranberries should be tossed.
Still want to use canned cranberry sauce? If you’d prefer, you can warm two cans of whole berry cranberry sauce (or one can of whole berry and one can of jellied) with about ¼ cup of apple cider (not too much, so it doesn’t get runny), the spices, and the sliced apples and simmer until the apples have softened. Skip the sugar for this – the canned cranberry sauce already has plenty!
Want a refined-sugar free cranberry sauce? Try substituting the 1 cup total of granulated sugar for ¾ cup of maple syrup or honey!
Can't find anise seed? You can also use ground anise seed (aniseed) or ground star anise, just be sure to reduce the star anise as it has a stronger flavor than anise seed.
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
This easy to make apple cider cranberry sauce is going to be your new favorite! It’ll make about 6 servings, but you can easily double or even triple the recipe to fit your holiday needs.
- Start Cranberry Sauce. In a medium saucepan, bring ¾ cup of apple cider, ½ cup of sugar, ½ cup of light brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 pinch of nutmeg, 1 pinch of anise seed, and 1 pinch of salt to a low boil.
Make sure to stir this occasionally while the sugar dissolves.
- Add Apples and Cranberries. While the apple cider is coming to a boil, rinse, peel, and slice one apple and wash 12 ounces of fresh cranberries. Add the sliced apple and cranberries to the syrup and simmer with the lid on for 5 minutes. Then, remove the lid and continue simmering uncovered for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cranberries should burst, and the apples will soften and break up and the sauce will thicken.
- Finish Cranberry Sauce. Once done, remove the cranberry sauce from the heat. You can mash the fruit further if desired. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools – refrigerate to finish up. Serve once thickened and enjoy!
My delicious, sweet and spicy apple cider cranberry sauce pairs wonderfully with any holiday meal! Try it with my amazing, savory smoked turkey, my creamy Parmesan roasted mashed potatoes, and my crispy brussel sprouts.
💭 Tips & Recipe Notes
If you’d like, you can slice the apples ahead of time!
- Try sprinkling the apples with some lemon juice to prevent browning! Lemon juice will help keep the apples from turning brown and mealy as they sit. Otherwise, slice the apples while bringing the sugar to a boil and then add immediately
Don’t worry about the anise seed! It works so well in this dish!
- I love the sweet, fragrant flavor of anise seed. Just a pinch helps to add a wonderful extra layer of flavor to the cranberry sauce.
You can use any kind of apple you like for this dish – whatever your preference!
- I prefer sweet apples with lots of flavor like Honeycrisp, Ambrosia, Gala, Fuji or Pink Lady!
- I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using a hard, green apple like Granny Smith because the pieces might not soften up during the cooking time of the cranberry sauce. Apples like Granny Smith also are very tart, which the cranberries are already!
🥡 Storing & Reheating
Cranberry sauce stores perfectly in the fridge! It will finish setting up in the fridge, and you can keep it stored in the fridge for up to 1 week!
Just make sure you transfer any leftovers, or any cranberry sauce that will not be used the same day to an airtight container.
Cranberry sauce can be made in advance and frozen for about 3 months for the best quality. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw in your refrigerator overnight!
Reheating Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce
If you and your family prefer your cranberry sauce warmed up, you can easily do it on the stove top! Reheat in a saucepan over low heat until the cranberry sauce is warmed to your preferred temperature. Serve immediately!
🦃 More Holiday Favorites
Canned cranberry sauce is what most of us are used to! It’s basically a cranberry jelly made from the juice that can then be cut into slices. Some people love it – but it’s not the most flavorful! My cranberry sauce uses fresh cranberries, apples and sparking apple cider, so you get much more of that amazing cranberry apple flavor with a more jam-like consistency. Fresh cranberry sauce can also be a great way to get people to enjoy cranberry sauce – the canned stuff puts some off for life!
Of course, you can freeze leftover cranberry sauce, but there are so many other things you can try! Try using leftover cranberry sauce swirled into muffins or bars. You can use cranberry sauce as a glaze for meats or mixed into slow-cooker barbecue meatballs. You can also use cranberry sauce as a topping for cakes, cheesecake, or my favorite – vanilla ice cream!
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Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce
- ¾ cup apple cider (or sparkling apple cider)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar (packed)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 pinch anise seed
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 large apple (washed, peeled, and sliced)
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries (rinsed, throw out any bruised berries)
- In a medium saucepan bring the apple cider, sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, ground nutmeg, anise seed, and salt to a boil. Stir occasionally while the sugar dissolves.¾ cup apple cider, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup light brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 pinch ground nutmeg, 1 pinch anise seed, 1 pinch salt
- Add the sliced apples and cranberries to the syrup and simmer with the lid on for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue simmering uncovered for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cranberries should burst, the apples will soften and break up, and your sauce will thicken.1 large apple, 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- Once done, remove from heat. You can mash the fruit further if desired. Allow to cool then refrigerate to finish setting up.
- If your apples are sliced and set aside while the sugars boil, use a splash of lemon juice on them to prevent them from browning. Otherwise slice the apples while bringing the sugar to a boil and add them immediately.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!