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Easy Cranberry Walnut Sauce

This is the ultimate cranberry sauce, with a balanced sweet-tart flavor and lush texture. A few secret ingredients take it to new heights. Cherry preserves provide body, maple syrup and a pinch of cinnamon lend warm complexity, orange zest brightens everything up, and toasted walnuts provide a wonderful crunch and nuttiness (but they can be omitted for a nut-free version). The sauce will thicken and gel as it cools.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry sauce recipe, cranberry walnut sauce, easy cranberry sauce recipe
Servings: 4 cups


  • 1 pound fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
  • 1 cup cherry preserves
  • ¾ cup organic cane sugar (plus more as needed)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, cherry preserves, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until most of the cranberries are popped but a few whole ones remain, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the walnuts and orange zest. Give the sauce a taste; if you prefer a sweeter flavor, stir in a couple more tablespoons of sugar to taste (remember that the flavors will meld as the sauce cools). Cool the sauce completely before serving (the sauce will thicken as it cools).


Do Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
  • This sauce will seem quite thin at first, but it will thicken and gel as it cools (especially if it’s refrigerated).
  • If you prefer a sweeter flavor, stir in a couple more tablespoons of sugar once the sauce is cooked.
  • I use organic cane sugar in this recipe, but you could use regular white sugar instead.
  • You can use either a red or black cherry jam in this recipe. If you use a sour cherry jam you might need to add a bit more sugar, depending on the sweetness of the jam. You can also use black currant preserves.
  • Feel free to omit the walnuts or to swap them out for pecans.
  • Get more Thanksgiving recipes here!