My apple cider cranberry sauce is the perfect blend of spiced apples, sweet sparkling apple cider, and tangy cranberries for Thanksgiving! It is tart, sweet, and full of juicy apple flavor! This easy-to-make cranberry sauce is sure to be a new family favorite for the holidays!
Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce
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, making it the most flavorful cranberry sauce you’ll ever taste! The best part is it will make your entire house smell like fall!
Whether you're a pro at hosting Thanksgiving dinner and holiday parties or giving it a try for the first time this year, you're sure to find my ultimate guide to planning Thanksgiving a help! Don't forget to safely thaw your holiday turkey early, too!
❤️ Why This Recipe Works!
- 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 add 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!
🥘 Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce Ingredients, Notes, & Substitutions
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 – ¾ cup of 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! Use store-bought apple cider, homemade apple cider, crockpot apple cider, or you can even check out these apple cider substitutes.
- Sugar – ½ cup of sugar. Cranberries are super tart, so some sugar is necessary for cranberry sauce! You can use granulated white sugar here.
- Brown Sugar – ½ cup of light brown sugar, packed. Brown sugar is wonderful in this recipe because it adds a deeper flavor to the cranberry sauce!
- Cinnamon – ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. I love adding a little spice to my cranberry sauce – cinnamon is terrific here!
- Nutmeg – A pinch of 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 – 1 large apple. You’ll want the apple to be washed, peeled, and sliced for this recipe. Use your favorite variety of apples! (See Tips & Recipe Notes)
- Fresh Cranberries – 12 ounces of fresh cranberries. Fresh cranberries are what make 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.
*Be sure to see the free printable recipe card below for ingredients, exact amounts & instructions with tips!*
🔪 How To Make Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce
This easy-to-make apple cider cranberry sauce is going to be your new favorite! All you need to get started is a cutting board, a knife, your measuring utensils, and a medium-sized saucepan.
It’ll make about 6 servings, but you can easily double or even triple the recipe to fit your holiday needs.
- Combine. In a medium saucepan, bring ¾ cup (177 milliliters) of apple cider, ½ cup (100 grams) of sugar, ½ cup (110 grams) of light brown sugar, ½ teaspoon (1 gram) of cinnamon, and a pinch each of nutmeg, anise seed, and 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 (340 grams) 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, the apples will soften and break up, and the sauce will thicken.
- Finish the cranberry sauce. Once done, remove the cranberry sauce from the heat. You can mash the fruit further if desired. The sauce will continue thickening as it cools – refrigerate to finish. Serve once thickened, and enjoy!
🍴 What To Serve With Cranberry Sauce
My delicious, sweet, and spicy apple cider cranberry sauce pairs wonderfully with any holiday meal! Try it with my amazing, savory smoked turkey, creamy Parmesan roasted mashed potatoes, and crispy brussel sprouts.
Take a look at my top 10 Thanksgiving recipes for more ideas! Enjoy!
💭 Tips & 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 are also 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.
Freezing Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce
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 stovetop! Reheat in a saucepan over low heat until the cranberry sauce is warmed to your preferred temperature. Serve immediately!
>>>>See all of my recipes here<<<<
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 mix it into slow-cooker barbecue meatballs. You can also use cranberry sauce as a topping for cakes, cheesecake, or my favorite – vanilla ice cream!
Absolutely! Let the sauce cool completely, and then place it into a freezer-safe storage bag. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. Simply thaw it in the fridge overnight, and you are ready to serve it!
🦃 🎄 More Holiday Favorites
- Traeger Smoked Turkey - A smokey and perfectly cooked turkey that is perfect for Thanksgiving.
- Oven Roasted Turkey - The classic and fool-proof way to prepare your turkey in the oven.
- Smoked Prime Rib - This tender and juicy prime rib is sure to make your Christmas extra special.
- Fresh Green Bean Casserole - Traditional green bean casserole made from scratch using fresh green beans.
- Oat Rolls - Fluffy and soft oat rolls with a subtle sweetness that can be paired with any entree.
- Pumpkin Pie - Creamy and sweet pumpkin pie is everyone's favorite holiday dessert.
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📖 Recipe Card
Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!