This post may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. That means if you click on my link and buy something, I will earn a small commission from the advertiser at no additional cost to you. For more information on this, please click here.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the same ol’ cranberry sauce that you have year-after-year on your Thanksgiving table, look no further! This Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala has all of the flavor that you are used to and more! Filled with chunks of apples and dreamy marsala wine, this recipe has not only great flavor, but really nice texture as well.
Will this be the year that you make cranberry sauce from scratch? Every year, I love to make at least two versions for the big meal–a traditional and classic Cranberry Sauce with Orange and a second, more innovative variety. One type for Thanksgiving is just not enough for me! (Check out these other fun versions of the holiday staple: Piña Colada Cranberry Sauce, Aperol Spritz Cranberry Sauce, Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac, and Raw Cranberry Pomegranate Relish.)
This Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala falls somewhere in between. Cranberry and apple is a classic combination, no doubt. The twist here is the use of Sicilian marsala wine for a boozy element that adds a subtle and familiar flavor. This recipe is well-balanced from a flavor perspective, and also has great texture from the addition of the apple pieces…win-win if you ask me! The apples also mute the deep, cranberry color a bit, offering some visual variety around the holiday table.
So Easy To Make . . .
This is a very easy recipe to make. In fact, cranberry sauce, in general, is one of the easiest holiday dishes to make, so volunteer to bring it to your next Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner if you can! Also, it can be made up to one week in advance and held in the refrigerator, so helps to take pressure off the hustle-and-bustle of the big day. All you really need to do to make this recipe is combine the ingredients, simmer, and let it thicken. Done and done!
If you have never made cranberry sauce from scratch before, I hope that this recipe will inspire you to try your hand at it! Enjoy!
To make this Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala recipe, we will be using the following:
- Fresh Cranberries: Frozen can be substituted!
- Marsala Wine: The marsala provides the signature flavor in this dish–it is a must add! I prefer dry, but you can use the sweet version of marsala for this dish as well. Either dry or sweet marsala adds sweetness to the dish to balance the cranberry’s natural tartness, as well as the liquid needed to help turn the cranberries into a sauce.
- Apples: Any type of apple can be used in this recipe. The apples add a nice, textural consistency to the cranberry sauce, as well as extra flavor, sweetness and fiber!
- Orange Juice: Adds lots of citrus flavor and sweetness, as well as the necessary liquid to transform the cranberries into a sauce.
- Orange Zest: Adds lots of bright, citrus flavor to the overall dish.
- Sugar: Cranberries are very tart! The sweetness from the sugar offsets this tartness and makes the cranberries more enjoyable. I tend to not over-sweeten my cranberry sauce. Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar up or down based on your individual preference.
A complete and detailed list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is included in the recipe below.
Step-By-Step, Pro-Tips included!
Here are the main steps for how to make Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala:
- Gather and prep all ingredients. Then, combine apples, marsala wine, sugar and orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat and stir together. Once the sugar has dissolved, stir in the cranberries.
- Simmer mixture for a few minutes, then start “popping” the cranberries by mashing them lightly with a fork or potato masher, leaving the sauce somewhat chunky (based on your desired consistency) and continue to simmer for another few minutes. (Simmer less time for a chunkier sauce and more time for a smoother sauce.)
- Remove from heat, stir in the orange zest & cool. Bring the cranberry sauce to room temperature before serving. That’s it!
- PRO-TIP: Make the Cranberry Sauce in advance of the big day, so there is less to do amidst all the craziness! I suggest up to one week in advance.
- PRO-TIP: Top the Cranberry Sauce in the serving bowl with some long strands of orange zest for an extra-special presentation.
Recipe Variations for Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala
Here are a few ideas for variations on this Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala recipe:
- Change the Sweetener: For the most part, you can substitute your favorite sweetener for the sugar in this recipe, be it brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut sugar, agave, cane sugar or something else.
- Use Frozen Cranberries: When fresh cranberries are not an option, frozen can be substituted without a problem!
What to Serve With Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala
Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala pairs perfectly with your Whole Thanksgiving Turkey, Baked Ham and all the trimmings.
In addition, there are lots of great ways to serve this Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala outside of the big holiday meal. Here are a few ideas:
- As a sandwich spread–with turkey the day after Thanksgiving and all year-round!
- Stir some into mayonnaise for a creamy sandwich condiment.
- Pair it with a variety of soft and hard cheeses on a cheese board at your next get-together.
- Make it the “J” in your next PB&J–why not???
Kitchen Tools & Cookware for Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala
To make this Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala recipe, you will need the following:
- Cutting board with non-slip mat underneath (I use shelf liner)
- Sharp chef’s knife
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Multiple bowls to hold prep
- Microplane zester
- Potato masher
- Wooden and/or silicon spoon
- 10″+ sauté pan or skillet
- Dutch oven
- Large serving bowl and serving utensils
More Great Recipes to Try
If you’ve tried this recipe or any other recipe on the blog, please let me know how it went in the comments below — I love hearing from you!
Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala
- 1 heaping cup finely chopped apples
- 1 cup dry or sweet marsala wine
- 1 cup sugar
- Juice and zest from 1 large orange (about 2-3 Tbsp zest and ½ cup (4 fl oz) juice
- 1 pound cranberries, rinsed
- Gather and prep all ingredients according to specifications above.
- Combine the apples, marsala wine, sugar and orange juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir. Simmer lightly for 2 to 3 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the alcohol taste has cooked off.
- Then, stir in the cranberries and bring the mixture up to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.
- After simmering for 1 to 2 minutes, the cranberries will begin to pop. Begin smashing them with a fork or potato masher to your desired level of chunkiness. Continue to simmer a few more minutes (about 7 to 8 minutes total). Simmer less time for a chunkier sauce and more time for a smoother sauce.
- Remove pan from heat, stir in the orange zest and cool.
- Bring the cranberry sauce to room temperature before serving. Buon Appetito!
- Garnishing Suggestion: Just before serving, top the cranberry sauce with some additional orange zest or orange peel.
- Make the Cranberry Sauce in advance of the big day, so there is less to do amidst all the hustle and bustle! I suggest up to one week in advance.
- Leftover Cranberry Sauce lasts for some time in the fridge and freezer! Store it in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.