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Drunken Cranberry Sauce Recipe

cranberry sauce with turkey
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3.52 from 49 votes
Make this recipe with dried cranberries, which get plump and drunk cooked in port. They make the perfect holiday side dish

Sauces and Condiments
Side Dish


Servings: 4 (about 1 1/2 cups/426 ml)


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1 bottle inexpensive American port (750 ml bottle)
  • ½ cup inexpensive balsamic vinegar
  • 8 ounces dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot or onion
  • ½ teaspoon ground thyme powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon Morton Coarse Kosher Salt
  • teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Zest of one medium orange
About the cranberries. Don't try this with fresh cranberries. Dried cranberries, sometimes called craisins, are like raisins. The secret is that the dried berries reconstitute with the wine and get plump and rich.
About the port. I prefer New York ruby ports for this recipe because they are fruitier than California ports and tawny ports. Look for Taylor or Widmer. If you can't find them, a California port like Gallo will do just fine.
About the thyme. You can use 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves if you wish, but I prefer the powder because it disappears while leaves get in your teeth. If you have dried thyme, powder them in a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle. If you have fresh thyme, toss in two sprigs about 2" (51 mm) long and then fish them out before serving.
About the white pepper. I prefer white pepper because it disappears in the mix, but if you don't have any, go ahead and use fresh ground black pepper.
About the salt. Remember, Morton coarse kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
About the orange zest. The zest is just the very thin layer or orange on the outer skin of the orange. It is rich in flavor and orange oils. The white layer just below the zest is the pith and it is bitter, so you need an orange zester tool, or a microplane, or a potato peeler to remove it. The zester and microplane produce tiny shreds, perfect for this recipe. If you use a potato peeler, you need to chip the zest into tiny bits. The strips in the picture above are decorative and would need to be chopped up for the recipe. If you get a little white it is OK, but not too much.
Do ahead. This dish can be made in advance and refrigerated. Just leave out the butter. Warm the mix in the microwave or a saucepan, then add the butter, and stir it in with a spoon, not a whisk.
About the salt. Remember, Morton coarse kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Cook. In a saucepan stir together the port, balsamic vinegar, cranberries, shallot or onion, and thyme. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 hour. Don't dry it out. This process cooks out most of the alcohol, but there may still be a little left, but nowhere near enough to get anyone tipsy.
  • Serve. Just before serving, stir in the butter, salt and pepper to taste, and the orange zest. Serve warm.

Nutrition per Serving

Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 308mg | Potassium: 87mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 17IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg