Dairy Free/ Gluten-Free/ Sauces, Dips & Dressings/ Vegetarian & Vegan

Whiskey Cranberry Sauce

Add a little booze to your Thanksgiving or Christmas table with this rich and delicious whiskey cranberry sauce. Made from scratch with fresh cranberries, this sauce is simple and quick to make and is a wonderful addition to any holiday table.
Whiskey cranberry sauce in a small mason jar.

Last Updated on November 30, 2021 by Betty Davies

Add a little booze to your Thanksgiving or Christmas table with this rich and delicious whiskey cranberry sauce. Made from scratch with fresh cranberries, this sauce is simple and quick to make and is a wonderful addition to any holiday table.

Whiskey cranberry sauce in a jar next to a spoon with some of the sauce on it.

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No Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is complete without some cranberry sauce. There’s always a place for the canned jelly sauce, but fresh and homemade is so much richer plus, it’s super easy!

This cranberry sauce recipe has warming hints of whiskey, which takes this simple sauce to a whole other level, and let’s face it, most of us have some whiskey hanging around during the holidays!

Be sure to try my cinnamon cranberry sauce and port and orange cranberry sauce too!

Why you will love this recipe!

  • Quick and easy: Simple to prep and quick to cook, this is one effortless recipe!
  • Make ahead: This is a great make ahead side. Because of the added whiskey it has a good shelf life, and is freezer friendly too!
  • Three ingredients: you only need three main ingredients to make up a big batch of this sauce.
  • Dietary info: This cranberry sauce with whiskey is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free.
Whiskey cranberry sauce in a small bowl with grated orange zest.

Ingredients

  • Cranberries: This recipe uses fresh cranberries. They are quick to cook and the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
  • Sugar: I like to make this cranberry sauce with brown sugar. It has a complex sweetness that works amazingly well with the flavor of the whiskey. You can swap it for white sugar is you prefer.
  • Whiskey: A couple of shots of whiskey make this cranberry sauce extra special. It’s not an overwhelming flavor, but you get a warming hint.

How to make whiskey cranberry sauce

Be sure to scroll down for the full recipe!

  • Add all of the ingredients to a small pot and heat on the stovetop (photo 1).
  • Simmer until the cranberries start to pop (photo 2).
Two step by step photos to show how to make the recipe.

Recipe Variations

This whiskey cranberry sauce is pretty delicious as it is, but you can easily swap some of the water for a little apple juice or orange juice for a different flavor. You can also omit the whiskey or trying swapping it for some red wine! I like to serve it with some fresh orange zest, a sprig of rosemary would work great too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make it with frozen cranberries rather than fresh?

Yes! If you don’t have access to fresh cranberries then frozen will work great. There’s no need to thaw them first, just add them straight to the pot with the other ingredients. They’ll take an extra couple of minutes to burst, but the results will be just as great.

What’s the best whiskey to use?

I used a rye whiskey for this cranberry sauce, but pretty much any type will work well. A bourbon like Jack Daniels would be great, as would a Scotch or Irish whiskey.

How long does it keep?

Once made let the sauce cool completely before transferring it to a jar or airtight container. It will keep well for around 2 weeks in the fridge and up to a year when frozen. Thaw frozen cranberry sauce at room temperature to serve. The sauce can be served cold, or you can reheat it on the stovetop if you prefer it warm.

How do you thicken cranberry sauce?

It’s best to make this sauce a little ahead of time – just an hour or so. Cranberries contain pectin which will help to thicken the sauce as it cools. It may look runny when you take it off of the heat, but it will cool into a more jam like substance. If you are in a real pinch, you can stir in a cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water), though I would only suggest that if you are desperate. Don’t be tempted to keep cooking the sauce as overcooked cranberries can become bitter in taste.

A jar of cranberry sauce next to a spoon.

Serving Suggestions

This whiskey cranberry sauce is the perfect accompaniment to serve with your favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas mains and sides. try it with:

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Take care not to overcook the cranberries, you want to take them off of the heat once they are popped. If you overcook them, the sauce can become bitter and too thick.
  • I think this has cranberry sauce has the perfect balance of sweetness. Taste it when it’s done and add a little honey, maple syrup or other liquid sweetener if you prefer it sweeter. If you add granulated sugar you can end up with a grainy sauce.
  • The sauce will thicken as it cools.
Overhead shot of grated orange zest on whiskey cranberry sauce.

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Whiskey cranberry sauce in a small mason jar.

Whiskey Cranberry Sauce

Add a little booze to your Thanksgiving or Christmas table with this rich and delicious whiskey cranberry sauce. Made from scratch with fresh cranberries, this sauce is simple and quick to make and is a wonderful addition to any holiday table.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings (about 2 cups)
Calories: 139kcal
Author: Betty Davies

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen) (280g)
  • ¾ cup water (180ml)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (200g)
  • 2 ounces whiskey (60ml)

Instructions

  • Add all of the ingredients to a small pot and place on a medium high heat.
  • Heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
  • Once all of the cranberries have popped (about 5 minutes), take the pot off of the heat and allow to cool to thicken up.

Notes

  • Take care not to overcook the cranberries, you want to take them off of the heat once they are popped. If you overcook them, the sauce can become bitter and too thick.
  • I think this has cranberry sauce has the perfect balance of sweetness. Taste it when it’s done and add a little honey, maple syrup or other liquid sweetener if you prefer it sweeter. If you add granulated sugar you can end up with a grainy sauce.
  • The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Nutrition

Calories: 139kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 67mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 21IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

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