Favorite Cranberry Sauce Citrus Grand Marnier

Our Favorite Cranberry Sauce

So you’re interested in making the best Cranberry Sauce, ever, one that your family and friends will devour, try this recipe for our Family’s Favorite Cranberry Sauce. This is so good, you might actually want to make it more than once a year! It’s def one to pin at least, for any winter holiday or feast.

Favorite Cranberry Sauce Citrus Grand Marnier

Favorite Cranberry Sauce just out of oven before Grand Marnier is stirred in.


What I love about this recipe is that it has the most marvelous flavor, lent from the bit of citrus (tangerine) and the Grand Marnier. Whaaaat? Grand Marnier on a frugal blog? Hey, we all have to indulge now and then! Expensive it is, but if you’re like me and want just a wee sip now and then of something, it’s not going to blow your budget. I have a few less expensive (and non-alcoholic) suggestions, too, if Grand Marnier isn’t a “go” for you.

About Our Favorite Cranberry Sauce:

I’ve been making this recipe for years, long enough that it qualifies as a “family recipe” and adapted it over the years after I “stole it off” Bon Appetit. I don’t normally rave on like an idiot over cranberry sauce, but this one I do. Before I started making this recipe I was indifferent about the ubiquitous sauce. Oh, I’d put the obligatory dab on my Thanksgiving or Christmas plate but beyond that, I couldn’t really have cared less about it. Now I’m wild about it, so I think you might be, too.

So our Favorite Cranberry Sauce has been kinda game-changing. It’s a sauce, but not as saucy as some, and those cranberries and especially the little strips of citrus in it are almost “candied.” That’s because this sauce is baked (no worries, it doesn’t sputter and spatter and it’s so easy, less messy and hands-off) and everything intensifies as it slowly simmers in the oven.

I think it’s the very deep earthy notes from the Grand Marnier that keeps this from tasting overly sweet (although it has the standard amount of sugar as any cranberry sauce) and mellows out the sharp cranberry taste all while it intensifies the orangy citrussy flavor of the tangerine. And there’s no doubt cranberry & orange are a classic combo, like in my favorite Cranberry Orange Muffins! Now that was a shameless plug. 🙂

Big Beautiful Muffins Cooks Illustrated

Big Beautiful Muffins – these are Cranberry Orange (no topping)

What if I don’t want to use Grand Marnier:

I get it. Grand Marnier is super pricey (at least for me, coz, well…budget) and a lot of people don’t imbibe, but you have options.

  • A lower-cost alternative would be to choose any less expensive orange liquor, and you can check out Serious Eats Field Guide to Orange Liqueur. They didn’t mention orange schnapps which I used once in a pinch. I think that was the year a couple friends and I went on a fuzzy navel kick!
  • If alcohol is a no go, just use additional tangerine juice, instead. I’ve made this many times with just juice and although I prefer it with the hooch, it’s still very good. And if your kids like cranberry sauce or you’re one of the many people who don’t drink for so many reasons, it’s a great alternative.

Preparing the Citrus:

I cannot tell you how simple this recipe is! The only hard part about it is getting the citrus strips. Now I used to have a gadget that I just ran across my oranges, lemons and limes and such, but couldn’t locate it. So today, the old fashioned way! After your citrus is juiced, cut the halves into quarters, lay them on your board, pulp side up and then just run your knife across it, removing as much of the white “pith” as possible. Then cut into the thinnest strips possible. No need to be perfect but do your best.

It takes a few minutes and you’ll want to make sure your knife is sharp. The pith is bitter, spongy and not pleasant to eat and keeps those delicate little strips from reaching their full, glorious potential in the cranberry sauce. They are really the best part!

Making Our Favorite Cranberry Sauce:

Then everything in the recipe gets dumped in the pan, in order and without stirring and into the oven it goes, covered with foil. Say goodbye now because you won’t see it for an hour. You’ll pull it out and stir in the hooch (or more juice) and into the fridge it goes. Watch the fumes!

I put it in its final serving dish so it’s ready to go. Easy peasy. Now you’d think the pan would be a mess to clean, but I use my glass pyrex pie plate and it just rinses off with literally no effort. So there ya go. No standing at the stove, stirring, sputtering and no super messy saucepan to clean up. Game-changing!

I haven’t had any boil-overs when I use my Pyrex pie plate, but if you use another pan or are worried about it, put a sheet of foil with the edges turned up on the oven rack below to catch any drips.

Favorite Cranberry Sauce Citrus Grand Marnier

Before it’s covered and popped in the oven.

What to do with Leftover Cranberry Sauce:

Cranberry sauce, like any jam or jelly, keeps for several weeks in the fridge so that gives you plenty of time to use any leftovers. If it separates, stir it back together.

  • My favorite use is in this Cranberry Bread Pudding. It’s truly fabulous! You can also use it as a condiment in sandwiches, add a dab to crackers spread with cream cheese or top other desserts.
  • If using as a dessert sauce, you may wish to slightly heat and thin with a little additional citrus or a little water to make it saucier. It’s great over ice cream or cheesecake.


Saving Money on Our Favorite Cranberry Sauce:

Find yourself a good liquor store, sign up for their sales alerts and stock up when the price is low. Usually, here in the US, I find the best sales on Wine in February and liquor in March when many stores have their annual sales. If you’re not comfortable putting out money for alcohol, try one if the substitutes above. And if you don’t want to use alcohol? Well, then this recipe is even cheaper.

Cranberries are very seasonal and almost always at a great price around Thanksgiving. If you use them year ’round like we do for things like muffins and quick breads or maybe other recipes. Stock up on them and chuck them in your freezer. Put them in a Ziploc if the package is punched full of holes. The fall pricing is competitive and at 89 to 99 cents for a bag (a pound) that means this tart fruit is something that you might consider using more often. Cranberries – not just for Thanksgiving anymore! I gotta give a shout out to my Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onion & Cranberry Compote as a great example of using this fruit.

You’ll find a lot of citrus fruit is going to be at a better price once fall rolls around and continues to drop until early March. Bags of tangerines or Mandarine oranges are often less expensive per pound if your family eats them but one or two usually aren’t going to break the bank. If you wish you can use less expensive oranges, although the delicate skins of the tangerine work so well in this recipe.

Favorite Cranberry Sauce Citrus Grand Marnier

Favorite Cranberry Sauce with Citrus & Grand Marnier


Our Favorite Cranberry Sauce

  • Author: Mollie Kirby adapted from Bon Appetit
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: about 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Condiments
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 1  cup of sugar
  • juice and zest from one tangerine or Mandarin orange
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier other orange-flavored liqueur


Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place cranberries in glass Pyrex pie plate. Sprinkle sugar, then juice, then strips of zest. Do not stir. Cover tightly with foil. Place a large piece of foil, with the edges turned up, on the rack below, in case of overflow.

Bake until juices form and cranberries are very soft, about 1 hour.

Remove from oven, uncover; mix in liqueur. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, about 4 hours. Can be prepared several days ahead. Keep chilled.

Like any jelly or jam, Cranberry Sauce will keep for weeks in the fridge, tightly covered.

Note: Julienne the strips or use a tool to take the zest off in strips for a pretty presentation and wonderfully candied strips.

Keywords: Alcohol, Bon Appetit, Citrus, Condiments, cranberries, cranberry sauce, Family Recipe, Fruit Desserts, Grand Marnier, Sauce, Side, tangerines

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There is such a thing as a game-changing cranberry sauce and our Favorite Cranberry Sauce with Grand Marnier and stips of candy-like citrus is it! You can go non-alcohol if you wish. It's baked in the oven, hands-off, no effort, no standing at the stove and no sputtering and mess! #GrandMarnierCranberrySauce #BestCranberrySauce #CranberrySauce

12 thoughts on “Our Favorite Cranberry Sauce

    • Works perfectly. Then I just use them frozen for things like my cranberry muffins, etc. If the bags have little holes all over them, I usually toss them in a ziploc at some point.

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