This cranberry compote is lighter than cranberry sauce. Orange and ginger give the compote a zippy edge, while pure maple syrup provides just the right touch of sweetness. It's easy to make and only takes about 10 minutes.
What is cranberry compote?
Cranberry compote is a light sauce made with cranberries and a sweetener. This version also includes citrus, ginger, and coriander for extra flavor.
Cranberry compote is lighter and thinner than traditional cranberry sauce, which cools to a jam-like consistency due to the berries' high amount of pectin.
Why this recipe works
- It's easy. Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes. That's it.
- You'll use the whole fruit. Since cranberries will pop and break down when you simmer them, there's no extensive prep work.
- Cranberries are naturally rich in pectin, which thickens the sauce naturally without adding starches.
- Cranberry compote is versatile. You can serve it on the holiday table with classics like Slow-roasted Turkey, or as a simple, seasonal fruit sauce, pairing it with Autumn-inspired desserts.
- Cranberries are the heart of this compote. You can use both fresh cranberries or frozen.
- Citrus fruit comes next. Orange marries particularly well with cranberries, although you can use lemon or lime if you add more sweetener to the compote. Orange juice also forms the liquid portion of the recipe, which helps to soften the cranberries as they cook.
- Dark maple syrup lends sweetness to the recipe. While its woodsy undertones add a pleasant depth to the cranberries and orange. More affordable options include brown and white sugar, although they lack dark maple syrup's complexity and nutritional profile.
- Ginger gives the compote a zippy vibe. It's a natural match for sharp, acidic foods like cranberries and citrus fruit. Ginger is highly anti-inflammatory and helps soothe indigestion, making it an excellent match for notoriously heavy holiday meals.
- Coriander lends a subtle fragrant note to the compote. Like orange peel, coriander is also rich in aromatic oils, which help to amplify the compote's depth of flavor.
- Orange-flavored liqueur such as Grand Marnier amplifies the citric notes of orange, bringing a heady flavor to the compote.
Tips for making the compote
- Sort through your cranberries. Many cranberries are softened or wrinkled when they get to the grocery store. Buy more than you think you'll need because you'll likely discard several before making the compote.
- Avoid the white pith when grating the orange peel. The white pith is extremely bitter and will convey that flavor to the sauce. Use only the colorful part of the orange peel - the fragrant zest.
- Cranberry compote cooks quickly. So, keep an eye on the saucepan while the cranberries simmer. The sauce is done with they've burst.
- It's easy to adjust this recipe as long as you keep the ratio of sweetener to cranberries the same. You can adjust it to include
- Keep the ginger whole. Drop the knob of ginger into the saucepan, and then carefully pluck it out when the sauce is done. The flavor will be lighter than grating the ginger.
Naturally, cranberry compote is a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. It partners well with other holiday favorites such as Maple-Brined Turkey or Glazed Ham.
But it's versatile, too. You can also use it as a dessert sauce, swirling it over ice cream.
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If you're alcohol-free, substitute 2 tablespoons of orange juice or 1 teaspoon of orange extract for the orange-flavored liqueur. You can also add a little vanilla extract if you prefer.
Try apple cranberry compote by swapping the orange juice for apple juice, skipping the orange-flavored liqueur in favor of brandy, and adding 1 diced apple to the cranberries.
If you don't have coriander, add a teaspoon of lemon or orange zest.
Swap honey for maple syrup. If you prefer honey to maple syrup, you can swap the two. Many cooks prefer to brown sugar.
Add a swirl of orange flower water to the compote for a little lift.
Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a spoonful of lemon zest for a sharper citrus flavor. Stir them in at the same time you add the orange.
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What kind of cranberries should I use?
Fresh, organic cranberries are optimal for this recipe. You can pick them over to remove any bruised, wrinkled, or softened fruit. Frozen cranberries are a great alternative since they're picked and processed at the peak of the harvest season.
Can I freeze it?
Yes. Cranberry compote will keep in the freezer for about 6 months. Prolonged storage may alter its flavor.
To freeze the compote, allow it to cool completely. Then, spoon it into an airtight container, allowing about 1 inch of headspace. Transfer to the freezer. Alternatively, pour the compote into a resealable freezer bag and freeze flat.
How long does it keep?
You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for about 1 week.