Subtly Smoked Homemade Cranberry Sauce {w/ Blood Orange}

Smoked cranberry sauce is a unique take on traditional fresh cranberry sauce and one you have to try at your next Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday dinners. I randomly asked myself, what would happen if I made smoked my homemade cranberry sauce on my Traeger Grill? Well, what happened was delicious so I’m sharing my recipe with you.

a bowl of smoked cranberry sauce on a dark blue background surrounded by fall decorations like pumpkins, wheat, fresh orange slices, and fresh cranberries

Forget the canned stuff, homemade cranberry sauce is easy to make, tastes better, can be made several days in advance if you want, and if you choose you can also smoke it like I do in this recipe for a unique but subtle flavor.

You can also make the recipe without smoking and I’m convinced it will become a new holiday favorite.

This cranberry sauce is bursting with layers of fruit flavor like blood orange (and/or cherry juice) and its sweetened with pure maple syrup.

Make this for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year alongside your smoked whole turkey or oven-roasted turkey crown roast. It even pairs beautifully with smoked grouse or oven-roasted whole duck.

Cranberries are a native North American fruit that grows in bogs.

Each season the land is flooded and the cranberries are harvested. It’s a spectacular sight!

Cranberry sauce in general doesn’t get the respect it deserves. I make it smoked or fresh throughout the year as it actually pairs beautifully with so many desserts and meats too — like pork.

Ingredients

Only 4-5 ingredients are needed to make this smoked cranberry sauce (not including the wood.)

the ingredients needed to make this recipe
  • fresh cranberries
  • blood orange juice & zest
  • maple syrup
  • cinnamon sticks
  • salt (just a literal pinch)
  • black cherry juice (optional)

See recipe card for quantities.

Equipment

You need a smoker to make this. I use my Traeger, but any smoker you have will work exactly the same.

Otherwise you need bowls and a medium sauce pan — things you likely have at home.

Instructions

a picture showing the cooking stages of fresh cranberry sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the fresh cranberries, juice, zest, maple syrup, cinnamon stick, and pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  2. While the sauce is simmering away, set your Traeger Grill to the Smoke setting and leave with the lid open for 5 minutes while the fire starts.
  3. Set your pan of cranberries directly onto the grill grates, close the lid, and allow to smoke for 20 minutes.
  4. Check the cranberry sauce, if it is not to your desired level of smokiness, go for 10-15 minutes more before removing.

Hint: make this smoked cranberry sauce up to 3 days ahead and cross another task off your Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner to-do lists.

a bowl of smoked cranberry sauce on a dark blue background surrounded by fall decorations like pumpkins, wheat, fresh orange slices, and fresh cranberries

Substitutions & Variations

leave it unsmoked

This cranberry sauce is incredibly delicious on its own. You can choose to serve it without smoking or even make a double batch and serve both.

add different fruits & juices

I use blood orange juice and zest as well as cherry juice. But you can try things like pomegranate, strawberry, figs, apricots, blueberry, etc.

add fresh herbs

Try adding fresh rosemary into the pot while this cranberry sauce simmers and then fresh mint at the end right after smoking.

Storage

Allow to come to room temperature and then store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Before serving, allow to come back to room temperature (30 minutes).

Top Tip

Don’t be afraid to break out of the Turkey routine and serve homemade cranberry sauce (smoked or otherwise) with other meats or even cakes.

FAQ

How do you get the bitterness out of cranberry sauce?

For some people cranberry sauce can be quite bitter. Adding sugar, maple syrup, and fresh fruits and fruit juices takes the bitter edge off. A pinch of salt also helps to counteract the natural bitterness. Also, make sure you are not overcooking your cranberry sauce.

Do you serve cranberry sauce hot or cold?

You can serve cranberry sauce hot or cold or room temperature. I think the flavor comes out best at room temperature or slightly warmed.

How long does cranberry sauce last?

If you keep your cranberry sauce covered in the refrigerator it will stay fresh for at least 7 days and likely up to 2 weeks.

a bowl of freshly made cranberry sauce on a blue background surrounded by fall decor like pumpkins, wheat, and fresh cranberries

Subtly Smoked Homemade Cranberry Sauce {w/ Blood Orange}

A refreshing twist on a Thanksgiving and Christmas favourite. Make smoked fresh cranberry sauce this year and ditch the canned stuff. You can also make this UNsmoked.
Sweetened with blood orange, dark cherry juice, and pure maple syrup.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Smoking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas, thanksgiving
Servings: 8
Calories: 141kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

  • 1 bag cranberries
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup unsweetened black cherry juice (optional, you can also use orange juice or apple cider etc.)
  • 1 blood orange (juice squeezed out, skin zested, and pulp discarded)
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pinch sea salt

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, add the fresh cranberries, juice, zest, maple syrup, cinnamon stick, and pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  • While the sauce is simmering away, set your Traeger Grill (or whatever smoker you're using) to the Smoke setting and leave with the lid open for 5 minutes while the fire starts.
  • Set your pan of cranberries directly onto the grill grates, close the lid, and allow to smoke for 20 minutes.
  • Check the cranberry sauce, if it is not to your desired level of smokiness, go for 10-15 minutes more before removing.

Notes

Allow to come to room temperature and then store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Before serving, allow to come to room temperature (30 minutes)

Nutrition

Calories: 141kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 168mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 44IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Recipe Rating




One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I think I need to get a Traeger, all your Traeger stuff looks so good! I made this minus the smoking step and it was the best cranberry sauce I’ve ever had. I’m going to try it on my morning yogurt tomorrow.