I love my turkey smothered with cranberry sauce–but it has to be a good one. It’s one of the simplest things to make so there’s no need to buy a ready-made version and besides, the result of a homemade sauce is far superior. I stud the ginger so that the cloves don’t end up in your mouth–a great tip I learned years ago working in the kitchen.—Clodagh McKenna

Common Questions

Can I make spicy cranberry sauce ahead of time?

You can make this sauce up to three days in advance but it will become jelly-like if cooled. To revive it, place a saucepan over low heat, add 100ml of water and stir in the set cranberry sauce. Keep stirring and it will loosen up once more, back to the consistency it should be.

Can I freeze leftover spicy cranberry sauce?

To freeze the cranberry sauce, place it in a resealable plastic bag and lay flat in the freezer. The frozen cranberry sauce will last 2 months. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight or submerge the frozen bag of sauce in a bowl of cold water.

Can I use spicy cranberry sauce for anything else?

The sauce also works as a fantastic glaze for hams or poultry, so if you’ve got space, double up on the recipe and make your glaze and sauce in one sweep.

Spicy cranberry sauce in a grey pottery bowl on a white tablecloth, beside a serving spoon.

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

5 from 1 vote
Although not strictly a preserve, this spiced cranberry sauce offers such a great flavor of its season. Perfect with holiday dishes and it does double time as a glaze for other meats, too.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories127 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 inch (25-mm) piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 4 cups (12 oz) fresh cranberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 red chile, halved lengthwise and seeded


  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water and slowly bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, lower the heat.
  • Stick the cloves into the fresh ginger and add to the saucepan, followed by the cranberries, cinnamon stick, and chile. Adjust the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and discard the ginger, cinnamon stick, and chile halves. Let cool to room temperature before serving. The sauce can be served immediately, or refrigerated overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Clodagh's Irish Kitchen Cookbook

Adapted From

Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 servingCalories: 127 kcalCarbohydrates: 33 gProtein: 1 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gTrans Fat: 1 gSodium: 5 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 27 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Clodagh McKenna. Photo © 2015 Tara Fisher. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

How convenient it was to run into this recipe just before Thanksgiving?! I still had fresh garden peppers available. Decided my best choice was a birds-eye chile. It was small at 1.6 grams but mighty according to its glorious aroma. In 20 minutes I had an amazing spicy cranberry sauce with just enough heat to make me blush with satisfaction.

Spiced cranberry sauce-Ilda

I served this well balanced yet heat spiked cranberry sauce along with my pomegranate glazed Cornish game hens. Even my son-in-law who claims he doesn’t like spicy food enjoyed this sauce, choosing it over our traditional cranberry-orange that I also made just in case.

I found fresh cranberries in Canada the week before Thanksgiving, so decided to give this spicy cranberry sauce recipe a go. It was really delicious and enjoyed by kids and adults alike. I like chile, but figuring not everyone around the table would feel the same, I pulled the chile pieces out partway through cooking, once I could taste a nice amount of heat. I’d definitely make this again! We enjoyed ours with Thanksgiving roast turkey and all the usual sides.

Somehow I have grown up into a person who takes cranberries very seriously, and while this spicy cranberry sauce doesn’t quite dethrone our family recipe, it is a very good sauce with a little kick of heat, making it perfect for savory applications.

This is the cranberry sauce you want to have with roasted meats, a cheeseboard, potato pancakes, or use in marinades. This is the first recipe I’ve made where you start with simple syrup before adding the cranberries (rather than adding everything at once and heating it together) and I think it works for making a sauce that’s less broken down than is traditional.

I used a Fresno chile which brought just enough heat to be interested but not enough to overpower things.

A very cold spring in Chicago has us drinking hot apple cider at the farmers market in late May, and so cranberries, when it’s nearly June, seem also wholly appropriate in our fall-like spring!

My cranberries took a little bit longer to pop than the 15 minutes stated. Once finished, we used this as an addition to a cheese plate. This could also be swirled into oatmeal or yogurt.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. Haven’t made this yet, but I plan to make 3 batches to gift and take to friend’s house for Turkey Day. Can’t wait to sample it.

    1. Your friends are lucky! The ginger kick in this recipe is a lovely twist. Let us know how it turns out!