This simple homemade cranberry sauce has a bit of heat and a Brazilian twist! With a gorgeous color that’s so radiant it looks like jewelry, this cranberry sauce recipe with orange juice is extremely easy to make. It’s the perfect amount of sweet and tart, and smells of vanilla, cinnamon and orange zest. It has a surprise kick from a secret ingredient that will make this Spicy Cranberry Sauce the star of your next holiday dinner.
Why I love this fresh cranberry sauce recipe
Between you and me, I could never quite figure out cranberry sauce. This isn’t something we have in Brazil, but I always loved the idea of it because I love a sweet and savory combination of flavors.
Over the years of living in the United States, I’ve made cranberry sauce a number of times, but I always thought something was missing.
So I decided to add cachaça, vanilla and red pepper flakes to a batch to see what would happen.
Let me tell you—I was so excited that I was jumping up and down after tasting it.
This Cranberry Sauce recipe retains some of the tartness from the cranberries. And even though we sweeten it with sugar, it’s not overly sweet.
That’s because the cachaça, a Brazilian liquor made from sugar cane, has a characteristic grassy flavor, which helps to prevent the sweetness of the sugar from taking over.
The orange zest, vanilla bean, and cinnamon also help balance that sweetness with their beautiful aromas. Plus, they provide festive flavors and smells.
All that said, if you like your cranberry sauce to be extra sweet, you can always just add more sugar to this recipe and sweeten it up to your taste!
But the real surprise is the addition of red pepper flakes—you get that bright, unexpected kick, which brings this simple sauce to a whole new incredible level.
As you can tell, I’m really into this easy recipe, but what makes me even more excited about it is you can make great cachaça cocktails with the leftovers! (More on this later.)
It’s so delicious and so fuunnn!!
Don’t forget to watch the video to learn how to make this cranberry sauce with cachaça!
Cachaça Cranberry Sauce Ingredients
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- Fresh cranberries—if you can’t find fresh cranberries, you can use the same amount of frozen cranberries. Just ensure that you’re not using sweetened or dried cranberries.
- Orange—Zest it first, then juice it.
- Cinnamon sticks—I like using sticks because we just want to infuse the cinnamon flavor.
- Red pepper flakes—this adds a beautiful pop of heat to our cranberry sauce.
- Cachaça—a Brazilian distilled liquor made from the fermentation of raw sugarcane juice. You can find it easily in big liquor stores like BevMo, Total Wine, or online in places like Drizly. You can also try your local Brazilian market, as well! If you cannot find it, use the same amount of white rum. While you won’t have the grassy notes that the cachaça sings of, it will get the job done.
- Vanilla bean—I know this is a splurge, but trust me when I say it’s worth seeking out and using!
- Granulated sugar—also known as white sugar, this is our sweetener for this recipe. There is no substitute.
In addition to these ingredients, you’re going to need the following tools to make this holiday side dish:
How to make Cranberry Sauce
Making cranberry sauce is easy peasy.
First, zest the orange, then juice it. Set it aside for later.
Then just add the sugar, orange juice and cachaça to a saucepan and bring to a boil, just enough to dissolve the sugar.
And then, add the cranberries, the spices and the zest. Simmer until the cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally.
Continue to simmer, simmer, simmer until the sauce begins to reduce. Personally, I like my cranberry sauce to be a little chunky and not perfectly mushy, but you can also break or smash the cranberries as they cook if you like that consistency better.
Remove from heat and let it cool before transferring the cranberry sauce to a container to serve or store. It will thicken as it cools, so don’t fret too much about the texture if it looks a little loose.
This Spicy Cranberry Sauce is also a great make-ahead recipe! This not only means one less thing for me to do the day/week of a holiday, but it gives the sauce some time to thicken up.
Can you freeze cranberry sauce?
Heck yeah! In fact, another beauty of making this sauce ahead of time because you can get this done and out of the way literally weeks before you need it, and what’s not to love about that?
Just make sure the sauce is completely cooled before it goes into the freezer. Then, thaw the night before you want to serve it!
What to do with leftover Cranberry Sauce?
- Make cocktails!!!
- Freeze for later and serve with roasts throughout the year!
- Use it on sandwiches, like this Turkey Cranberry Sandwich!
What to Serve alongside Spicy Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice
- Grilled Turkey Breast
- Dry Brine Spatchcock Turkey
- Instant Pot Brown Rice
- Brazilian Collard Greens with Bacon
- Farofa – Toasted Cassava Flour
- Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes
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Cachaça Cranberry Sauce
- 12 once package of fresh cranberries 1.5 cups
- 1 large orange, zested
- 1 cup orange juice preferably freshly squeezed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1.5 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup cachaça Brazilian rum
- 1 whole vanilla bean
- Add the sugar, orange juice and cachaça to a saucepan and bring to a boil, just enough to dissolve the sugar.
- Next, add the cranberries, the spices and the zest. Simmer until the cranberries begin to pop, about 5 minutes.
- Continue to simmer until the cranberries begin to reduce. Personally, I like them to retain some texture, so I let them stay mostly whole, but you can also break or smash them as this cooks if you like that consistency.
- Let cool completely before transferring the cranberry sauce to a container and storing in the refrigerator for up to a week.