Maker's Mark Cranberry Sauce

homemade cranberry sauce thanksgiving christmas

Everything tastes better with Maker's Mark Bourbon! 

Cranberry sauce is a staple of the Thanksgiving and Christmas table, yet it's often the one item that people aren't very concerned about. The turkey is free range, the vegetables are organic, the floral centerpiece is made up of no-spray flowers, but the cranberry sauce is dumped out from a can. 

I have used can cranberry sauce for years. My family celebrates two Thanksgivings (Canadian in October and American in November) and we host multiple Christmas dinners in December. That's a lot of cranberry sauce cans each year! And...I hate it! I mean seriously. I put it on the table purely out of habit and very rarely do I find myself reaching for it. Last Christmas I thought there had to be a better way! 

I put so much love and care into the meals I prepare, why am I still serving this canned goop? I wondered if part of the reason why it's so readily available and used by many was that it is hard to prepare. A quick Google search showed me it's nothing more than boiling cranberries with sugar, water and some flavouring. Seriously, it could not be easier. 

So last Christmas I set aside a pot to simmer while the turkey cooked and the result was outstanding! It got rave reviews and it made the house smell oh so Christmasy! 

The basic recipe is equal parts sugar and water, a bag of cranberries and I added in a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and a tablespoon or so of fresh grated lemon zest. This past Canadian Thanksgiving I decided to make a batch of homemade cranberry sauce the night before the big day. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bottle of Maker's Mark sitting on my counter and knowing how much my family loves the taste of sweet bourbon, I thought why not change the basic recipe up to include this favourite!  

cooking with bourbon

Folks, it doesn't get any easier than this. 

Into a medium pot add 32 oz or one bag of fresh or fresh frozen cranberries. I buy mine at our local poultry store. They are frozen cranberries from Bala, Ontario in the Muskoka region. They are well known for their cranberries. Try to find the best cranberries you can but in a pinch go with what is available in your local grocery store. 

homemade, cranberry

Add 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of water, 4 tablespoons of Maker's Mark Bourbon and 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce and simmer for about an hour. 

thanksgiving dinner

I like to give it a good stir every few minutes just to prevent the sugar from crystallizing on the sides and burning in the bottom of the pot. The cranberry sauce is done when it reaches a jam like consistency.

Because I made this particular batch the day before Thanksgiving I placed it into a large mason jar, after it had cooled, and then left it in the fridge. I brought it out two hours before dinner was ready and put it into a nice blue and white bowl with a silver spoon for serving. It was an absolute hit! What a difference it makes having fresh made cranberry sauce. This particular recipe worked so well because the Maker's Mark Bourbon and vanilla added just the right amount of sweetness to the tart cranberries. It really tasted great with a perfectly cooked turkey. But that's not even the best part.

The next day we did what many families do after Thanksgiving. We slept in (delightful) and made turkey sandwiches for lunch. Well let me tell you, fresh sliced bread with leftover turkey and stuffing with mayo and this cranberry die for! It had to be the greatest leftover turkey sandwich ever! We had lots of leftover turkey and while I usually find myself throwing out a bit of it, there was nothing left this year because we were eating turkey sandwiches at every meal!

They say once you know better, you do better. Well, now you know that homemade cranberry sauce is the way to go. You've got one week to prepare for American Thanksgiving and less than 6 weeks until Christmas. Make sure you stock up your fridge and bar cart with everything you need and be prepared for your cranberry sauce to be the most used item on your dinner table.

*Store in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 14 days.