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This Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac is for all the nut lovers out there! With lots of chunky toasted nuts and rich, warming Cognac, this super easy and delicious recipe will be a welcome addition around your holiday table. Read on for more!
I have always been all about boozy cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. (Although, not for the youngsters, of course!) In a sense, despite cranberry’s strong and distinct flavor, cranberry sauce is a bit of a blank canvas that you color with different flavors and textures, if you are so inclined. Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac is a great example of this.
Almost all cranberry sauce recipes contain orange in some form (juice and/or zest) and a sweetener. Other than these two things, there is a lot of flexibility in what else, if anything, that you decide to add. I tend to think that adding booze to any cranberry sauce recipe just makes it better and more interesting.
I love experimenting with different liqueurs when making cranberry sauce. (Check out my Aperol Spritz Cranberry Sauce, Piña Colada Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Apple Sauce with Marsala recipes.) Each one adds its own special qualities to the finished dish. Here, the use of Cognac, which is a type of brandy produced in its namesake town in France, adds subtle notes of dried fruit and warm spices to the finished dish. Paired with a chunky mixture of your favorite nuts, the resulting condiment is a fun adaptation of a more classic cranberry sauce.
Simple To Make . . .
This is a super easy recipe to make. In fact, cranberry sauce, in general, is one of the easiest holiday dishes to make, so I suggest volunteering to bring it to your next holiday 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 craziness of the big day. All you really need to do to make this recipe is toast the nuts, 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 Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac recipe, we will be using the following:
- Fresh Cranberries: Frozen can be substituted!
- Cognac: Cognac is a special type of brandy that comes specifically from its namesake town in western France. Its flavor is rich with the taste of dried fruit and warm spices, and it goes beautifully with the nuts in this dish. For this recipe, any brandy can be used. It not only adds the signature flavor in this cranberry sauce, but also contributes to the liquid needed to help turn the cranberries into a jammy sauce. And, of course, it adds sweetness as well!
- Mixed Nuts: Nuts complement the cognac and add extra depths of flavor to the final dish, as well as loads of texture! Feel free to leave them out if you prefer a simpler recipe or have nut allergy concerns.
- 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 Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac:
- Gather and prep all ingredients. Roast the nuts. Then, combine cognac, 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, then stir in the nuts. That’s it!
- PRO-TIP: Make the base of this Cranberry Sauce (i.e., the sauce without the nuts added) 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. Do not add the nuts to the sauce until just before serving, otherwise they will get soft and unpalatable.
- PRO-TIP: Top the Cranberry Sauce in the serving bowl with some long strands of orange zest or peel for an extra special presentation.
Recipe Variations for Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac
Here are a few ideas for variations on this Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac 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!
- Make it Nut Free: Feel free to leave the nuts out of this recipe if you prefer or if you have nut allergy concerns.
What to Serve With Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac
Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac pairs perfectly with your Whole Thanksgiving Turkey, Baked Ham and all the trimmings.
In addition, there are lots of great ways to serve this Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac 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 cream 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 Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac
To make this Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac 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!
Nutty Cranberry Sauce with Cognac
- 1 heaping cup chopped unsalted mixed nuts (about 5 ounces)
- 1 cup Cognac or other brandy
- 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.
- If the nuts are raw, carefully toast them over medium-low heat in a dry pan, tossing occasionally. Don’t walk away! It doesn’t take very long and nuts could burn in an instant. Once lightly toasted, remove the nuts from the pan and set aside. (You can skip this step if the nuts are already roasted.)
- Combine the Cognac, 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, then stir the nuts into the sauce just before serving. Buon Appetito!
- Garnishing Suggestion: Just before serving, top the cranberry sauce with some additional orange zest or orange peel.
- Make the base of this cranberry sauce (i.e., the sauce without the nuts added) 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. Do not add the nuts to the sauce until just before serving, otherwise they will get soft and unpalatable.
- The leftovers of this cranberry sauce last for about 7 days in the fridge, stored in an airtight container. The nuts will likely soften after one day in the refrigerator, but the flavor will still be excellent!