One taste of this Smoked Cranberry Sauce will change your outlook on this holiday staple. It’s time to take this old classic for a spin.
🍽️ Why This Recipe Works
Easy – Even though you are going to smoke the fruit for a bit beforehand, this recipe is very simple and has minimal ingredients. Everything in the recipe are things you normally cook with so there are no surprises.
Variety – Spin this recipe to make it your own. There are so many options, I can’t count them all. Change the wood for smoking, mix up the variety of apples and oranges, add in more spices, etc. You will have so much fun with the basic concept of smoked cranberry sauce that you will make this one time and time again.
I found an orange wood recently at Dizzy Pig that was going to be my backup for this recipe, until I came across this magical wood from a used Bourbon Barrel. Get back Jack!
HoneyCrisp Apple – Using a HoneyCrisp apple pulls the sweet flavors that offset the natural tartness of the cranberries. I learned that this crisp, sweet apple was created in the late 1970’s and finally bore fruit in 1983. It is delicious and we are willing to spend 2-3x the amount of money for these incredible apples.
Blood Orange – These dark crimson fleshed oranges have a slight raspberry flavor in addition to the orange taste you are used to. Blood oranges are generally in season December – May. Some varieties will come a tad earlier or a tad later.
Fresh Organic Cranberries – These yummy dark red superfood berries are harvested in the fall and we find them in the stores from October through December for all of our holiday recipes. They are closely related to the blueberries and huckleberries.
Step One: Heat the grill to 375 degrees on indirect heat. For the Big Green Egg, I added the plate setter. Add in Bourbon Barrel wood (or wood of your choice). You only need a couple of pieces.
Step Two: Cut the orange and the apple into quarters and place them on the grill for 30 minutes in the smoke. Reduce this time if you want LESS smoky flavor.
Step Three: After the orange and apple quarters have cooled, peel the oranges and cut the core from the apples. Cut them into quarter inch pieces. Spend the time to remove all the seeds and the pith from the orange.
Step Four: Combine all the ingredients in a cast iron pan and stir.
Step Five: Remove the plate setter and raise the temperature of the grill to 400 degrees.
Step Six: Place the skillet on grill for 30 minutes and stir it every ten minutes. You are looking for the cranberries to pop and the sauce should thicken. If it appears too juicy, raise the temperature of the grill a bit and wait another ten minutes. The higher grill temps are key for the sauce to thicken appropriately.
Step Seven: Let the sauce cool, remove the cinnamon stick and place in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
📌 Expert Tips
If you want LESS smoky flavor, use a mild wood and reduce the time smoking the fruit on the grill. Another consideration to use less smoke is when you plan on serving the cranberry sauce. I found that the smoke flavor took time to fully combine with the sauce and the next day, the sauce was even more pronounced. The same thing happened with my Smoked Potato Salad. Just recognize that the smoky flavor may intensify over time.
Note: Don’t try to cook the cranberries over indirect heat. It needs the direct heat to bring it to a boil and break down the skin and thicken. If you are using a plate setter for the SMOKING portion of this recipe, remove it before starting to make the actual sauce.
We chose a mild Bourbon Barrel wood and smoked the fruit for 30 minutes. We like the flavor so cutting it into quarters is great. If you want less of the smoky flavor, reduce the surface area of the fruit by cutting them in half instead of quarters.
Use a pan like a cast iron to hold the heat. I found the best results with this as the cranberries simmered and thickened.
Make this one ahead of time. I made it the day before and it continued to add depth to the flavor profile as it rested. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
What sugar substitutes can I use?
Use Stevia, brown sugar, honey or maple syrup.
What spices can I substitute or change?
Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon or even an apple pie spice would all be fun here.
What can I substitute for bourbon?
Add in orange juice, additional apple juice or Grand Marnier for it’s orange flavoring.
Smoked Mulled Wine – This holiday classic works perfectly on the grill. You already have your smoking setup going, so add in this fun drink as well.
Grilled Roasted Chestnuts – Another classic dish that requires just one ingredient! That is my favorite kind of food!
Smoked Cranberry Sauce
- 1 bag Cranberries fresh
- 1 cup Sugar white
- ¾ cup Apple Juice
- ¼ cup Bourbon
- 1 Honeycrisp Apple
- 1 Blood Orange
- ½ tsp Allspice ground
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- Heat grill to 375 degrees using indirect heat and add the wood for smoking. We chose wood from a Bourbon Barrel that added such a wonderful flavor!
Smoke the Orange and Apple
- Cut the orange and apple into quarters. If you want to reduce your "smoky" flavor, cut the fruit in half instead as it reduce the amount of surface area that will receive the smoke. Smoke for 30 minutes and allow it to cool.
- After cooling, peel the oranges and core the apples. Chop them into ¼" pieces and set aside.
Prepare the Cranberry Sauce
- Set up the grill for direct heat and raise the temperature to 400-425 degrees.
- Combine all of the ingredients to a cast iron skillet. Add the chopped oranges and apples. Stir well to mix the ingredients.
- Add the skillet to the grill and stir the mix every ten minutes. In 30 minutes, the cranberries will have "popped" and the mix will start thickening. It is important to stir this fairly frequently so it doesn't burn.
- Remove from the grill and allow it to cool. Refrigerate for up to 2-3 weeks.