The Ultimate Guide to Making Emeril’s Famous Cranberry Sauce

Emeril’s cranberry sauce isn’t just a dish; it’s a festive celebration in a bowl. This tangy, sweet concoction has graced holiday tables for years, and with this guide, you’ll be able to whip up a batch that’s sure to impress. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a first-time cook, this recipe for Emeril’s cranberry sauce will add a zing to your feast that guests will talk about until next Thanksgiving!

Why is Emeril’s Cranberry Sauce a Must-Try?

emeril cranberry sauce

Emeril’s cranberry sauce is more than just a condiment; it’s a culinary experience that embodies the essence of holiday cooking. Emeril Lagasse, the esteemed chef known for his “BAM!” approach to cooking, has crafted a cranberry sauce recipe that perfectly captures the festive spirit with its rich flavors and vibrant presentation. Here’s why this sauce deserves a place at your table:

An Perfect Balance of Flavors

The recipe is a masterful blend of the following elements, each contributing to its standout taste:

  • Tart Cranberries: The base of the sauce, cranberries, offer a natural pucker-worthy tartness that awakens the palate.
  • Sweet Sugar: Balancing the tartness, sugar adds a comforting sweetness that makes the sauce universally appealing.
  • Rich Port Wine: The inclusion of port wine introduces a depth of flavor that wine enthusiasts and novices alike will savor.
  • Citrus Zest: Orange zest brings a bright citrus note, adding complexity to the sauce’s flavor profile.

A Versatile Companion to Many Dishes

Emeril’s cranberry sauce isn’t just for turkey. Its versatility makes it a perfect pairing for a variety of dishes, including:

  • Meats: From chicken to pork to game, the sauce complements and enhances the main course.
  • Vegetarian Options: It’s equally delicious with vegetarian and vegan dishes, providing a pop of flavor to plant-based proteins.

The Perfect Texture

Emeril’s recipe achieves a consistency that’s both spoonable and spreadable, making it ideal for slathering on sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving or dolloping onto a cheese platter.

Easy to Make and Customize

The beauty of Emeril’s cranberry sauce lies in its simplicity. With just a few ingredients and steps, anyone can make this sauce. Plus, it’s open to customization. Whether you’re adding extra spices or experimenting with sweeteners, this recipe is a forgiving canvas for your culinary creativity.

A Conversation Starter

Serving Emeril’s cranberry sauce is bound to get guests talking. Its unique flavor and the story behind Emeril’s twist on the classic recipe are excellent conversation pieces for any holiday gathering.

A Feast for the Eyes

With its deep red hue, Emeril’s cranberry sauce is as much a visual treat as it is a gustatory one. It adds a splash of color to the holiday spread, making it as attractive as it is delicious.

In conclusion, Emeril’s cranberry sauce is a must-try because it’s a testament to Emeril Lagasse’s culinary prowess and a reflection of the holiday season’s joy. It’s a dish that brings together families, complements a wide array of holiday favorites, and leaves a lasting impression with its bold, balanced flavors.

Recipe for Emeril’s Cranberry Sauce

emeril cranberry sauce

Emeril’s Signature Cranberry Sauce

Ryan Yates
This classic cranberry sauce recipe by Emeril Lagasse is a delightful blend of tart cranberries with the sweetness of sugar and the zest of oranges, enriched with a hint of cinnamon and the depth of Port wine. It's the perfect accompaniment to your holiday meals and a must-have on your Thanksgiving table.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Amercian
Servings 8 people


  • Medium Saucepan
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Zester or grater
  • Juicer (optional, for orange juice)
  • whisk
  • Small bowl (for cornstarch slurry)
  • Spoon or spatula for stirring


  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • Juice and chopped zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup Port or substitute with red wine or cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar add more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch for thickening


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, orange juice and zest, port, and sugar.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
  • Let the cranberries cook until they are tender and have popped open, about 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water to create a slurry.
  • Whisk the slurry into the cranberry mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.
  • Remove from heat and taste the sauce. Add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter sauce.
  • Allow the sauce to cool before serving, or store in the refrigerator for later use.
Keyword Christmas, cinnamon, cornstarch, cranberries, cranberry sauce, Emeril Lagasse, Holiday Recipe, orange zest, port wine, sauce, side dish, sugar, thanksgiving

Nutritional Information

  • Calories: 106 per serving
  • Carbohydrates: 27g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Sugar: 24g

How to Customize Your Emeril Cranberry Sauce

Customize Your Emeril Cranberry Sauce

Creating a personalized version of Emeril’s cranberry sauce is a delightful way to put a unique spin on a classic holiday favorite. By incorporating additional spices, experimenting with fruit mix-ins, and considering alternative sweeteners, you can tailor the sauce to your taste preferences and dietary requirements. Here’s how you can make the Emeril cranberry sauce your own:

Experiment with Spices

While the traditional recipe calls for cinnamon, don’t hesitate to explore with other warming spices. Here are a few you might consider:

  • Nutmeg: A pinch of ground nutmeg can add depth and warmth to the sauce.
  • Cloves: Start with a small amount as cloves are quite potent.
  • Allspice: This spice brings a complex blend of flavors that complements cranberries well.
  • Ginger: Fresh or powdered ginger adds a zesty kick that brightens the sauce.

Choose Your Fruit Mix-Ins

Cranberries pair beautifully with a variety of fruits. Try adding one of these to the sauce as it simmers:

  • Apples: Diced apples provide a sweet contrast and a pleasant crunch.
  • Pears: For a softer sweetness, add pears to the mix.
  • Raspberries: Introduce raspberries for a berry-rich version of the sauce.
  • Blackberries: Their robust flavor pairs well with the tartness of cranberries.

Sweeten It Your Way

Sugar is the standard sweetener, but there are many other options to explore:

  • Honey: For a natural sweetness with a floral note, try honey.
  • Maple Syrup: A dash of maple syrup can add a woodsy, autumnal flavor.
  • Agave Nectar: This sweetener is a great vegan option that dissolves easily.
  • Stevia: If you’re watching your sugar intake, stevia can be a suitable substitute.

Adjusting Texture and Thickness

The desired thickness of the cranberry sauce can vary from one person to another. Here’s how to get it just right:

  • For a thicker sauce: Increase the amount of cornstarch slurry incrementally.
  • For a thinner sauce: Add a bit more orange juice or water until you reach the preferred consistency.

Accommodating Dietary Restrictions

If you or your guests have dietary restrictions, consider these adjustments:

  • For a gluten-free sauce: Ensure that all packaged ingredients are certified gluten-free.
  • For a low-sugar diet: Reduce the sugar or choose a substitute like stevia or monk fruit sweetener.

By following these suggestions, you can transform the traditional Emeril cranberry sauce into a dish that not only complements your holiday spread but also reflects your personal taste and dietary needs. Remember, the best recipes are the ones that you make your own, so don’t be afraid to experiment and enjoy the process!

Pairing Your Cranberry Sauce with Holiday Dishes

Cranberry Sauce with Holiday Dishes

When it comes to holiday feasts, Emeril’s cranberry sauce is a versatile player that complements a wide array of dishes. Its robust flavor enhances everything from the main course to desserts, making it a must-have on your holiday menu. Here’s how to perfectly pair Emeril’s cranberry sauce with your holiday meals to elevate the festive spirit:

Main Course Matches

The rich and tangy taste of cranberry sauce pairs exceptionally well with the savory flavors of traditional holiday meats. Consider these classic combinations:

  • Roast Turkey: The quintessential holiday centerpiece, turkey, finds a sweet and tart companion in cranberry sauce, balancing the meat’s richness.
  • Glazed Ham: The sauce’s acidity cuts through the ham’s sweetness and saltiness, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.
  • Roast Chicken: A spoonful of cranberry sauce alongside golden-brown chicken adds a festive touch to a classic dish.
  • Duck: The bold flavors of duck meat are perfectly offset by the sweet and sour profile of the sauce.

Vegetarian and Vegan Delights

For those who prefer plant-based dishes, cranberry sauce can add a burst of flavor to various vegetarian and vegan options:

  • Stuffed Squash: A dollop of cranberry sauce on savory stuffed squash brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetable.
  • Lentil Loaf: Upgrade your lentil loaf by serving it with a side of this zesty sauce for a comforting, holiday-worthy meal.
  • Grilled Tofu: Brush cranberry sauce over grilled tofu for a sweet glaze that’s sure to impress.

Side Dishes that Shine

Elevate your side dishes with the addition of cranberry sauce:

  • Mashed Potatoes: Mix a bit of sauce into your potatoes for a hint of fruitiness.
  • Sweet Potato Casserole: A classic casserole with a swirl of cranberry sauce creates a delightful contrast in flavors.
  • Brussels Sprouts: The bitterness of Brussels sprouts is tamed by the sauce’s sweetness, enhancing the overall taste.

Desserts with a Twist

End your meal on a high note by incorporating cranberry sauce into your desserts:

By thoughtfully pairing Emeril’s cranberry sauce with these dishes, you can ensure that every course of your holiday meal is infused with festive flavors. Whether it’s adding a spoonful to a savory dish or a sweet dessert, cranberry sauce is more than just a side—it’s a versatile ingredient that deserves a spotlight on your holiday table.

The History of Cranberry Sauce in Holiday Traditions

History of cranberry sauce

The story of cranberry sauce as a holiday staple is as rich and colorful as the sauce itself. A traditional accompaniment to Thanksgiving turkey, cranberry sauce has its roots deeply embedded in the beginnings of American history. This section delves into how Emeril’s cranberry sauce draws from this history and has become a beloved fixture at holiday tables.

Origins of Cranberry Sauce

Native Americans were the first to recognize the versatility of cranberries. They used them not only as a food source but also for dye and medicinal purposes. The Pilgrims learned about cranberries from the Native Americans, and the berry soon became a vital part of their diet. However, it wasn’t until the 17th century that sugar became widely available, and the cranberry sauce as we know it began to take shape.

Cranberries in American Culture

The cranberry, a native fruit of North America, is one of only a few fruits that were not imported from other countries. As American as apple pie, cranberry sauce became a symbol of the nation’s bounty and a fixture in its culinary tradition. It’s believed that cranberries, in some form, were served at the first Thanksgiving, making them an integral part of the holiday’s history.

Emeril’s Cranberry Sauce: A Modern Take on Tradition

Emeril Lagasse has taken this traditional recipe and infused it with his signature bold flavors, elevating the simple cranberry sauce to new heights. His version includes the zest of orange and the richness of port wine, which adds a modern twist to the classic recipe.

A Staple in Holiday Feasts

Through the years, cranberry sauce has seen many variations, but it remains a constant on Thanksgiving and Christmas menus. Its tangy and sweet flavor profile complements the rich and hearty foods typically served during the holidays, making it an indispensable part of festive meals.

Cranberry Sauce Today

Today, Emeril’s cranberry sauce is a testament to the time-honored tradition of adding cranberry sauce to holiday feasts. It represents a blend of the old and the new, bringing together the traditional essence of the holiday spirit with contemporary culinary innovation.

By understanding the historical significance of cranberry sauce, we can appreciate its place at the holiday table even more. Emeril’s cranberry sauce is not just a side dish; it’s a celebration of history, culture, and the evolution of American cuisine.

Hard to Find Ingredient Substitutions for Emeril’s Cranberry Sauce

When crafting Emeril’s cranberry sauce, you may encounter the challenge of sourcing Port wine, which is essential for its depth and richness. However, the culinary world is replete with alternative ingredients that can mimic or even enhance the original flavors of a recipe. Here are some substitutions that can save the day without compromising on taste:

Substituting Port Wine

Port wine is a sweet, fortified wine from Portugal, known for its rich texture and depth of flavor. If Port isn’t readily available, consider these options:

  • Red Wine: A sweet red wine, such as a Zinfandel or a Shiraz, can be used. These wines bring a similar richness and fruitiness to the sauce.
  • Cranberry Juice: For a non-alcoholic version, cranberry juice offers additional cranberry flavor and maintains the sauce’s tartness and color.
  • Pomegranate Juice: This juice provides a tart and sweet profile with a depth that resembles Port wine.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: A small amount of balsamic vinegar mixed with red wine or grape juice can add a complex flavor similar to Port.

When Citrus is Scarce

The zest and juice of an orange are integral to Emeril’s cranberry sauce, contributing a fresh, citrusy brightness. If oranges are not available, here are some alternatives:

  • Lemon or Lime Zest: These can provide the necessary citrus note, though with a sharper, more pronounced flavor.
  • Bottled Orange Juice: In a pinch, pre-packaged orange juice can be used, though fresh is preferable for the best flavor.
  • Orange Extract: A drop or two of orange extract can substitute for fresh orange zest in flavoring the sauce.

Sweetener Swaps

Sugar is a key ingredient in balancing the tartness of the cranberries. If you’re looking to replace regular sugar, here’s what you can use:

  • Honey: It offers sweetness with an added hint of floral notes.
  • Maple Syrup: This provides a rich, autumnal sweetness with a distinct flavor.
  • Agave Syrup: A fructose-based sweetener that’s sweeter than sugar, so you may use less.
  • Artificial Sweeteners: These can be used to taste, for those monitoring sugar intake.

Spice Variations

Cinnamon is the spice of choice in Emeril’s cranberry sauce, but you can easily spice things up a bit with alternatives:

  • Allspice: It has a nuanced flavor profile that includes cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg notes.
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice: This blend can be a quick multi-spice substitute that complements the cranberries well.

By utilizing these substitutions, you can ensure that your Emeril cranberry sauce is just as delectable, even when the original ingredients are hard to come by. These alternatives not only provide practical solutions but also offer an opportunity to personalize the sauce to your taste preferences.

The Secret to Perfect Emeril Cranberry Sauce

Achieving the perfect Emeril cranberry sauce is an art that combines culinary precision with a flair for flavor. The secret lies in the meticulous balance of sweet, tart, and rich profiles, along with a cooking technique that brings out the best in the cranberries. Here’s how to ensure your cranberry sauce reaches its full potential:

Balancing the Flavors

A harmonious flavor balance is crucial in Emeril’s cranberry sauce. The tartness of the cranberries should meld seamlessly with the sweetness of the sugar and the complex notes of the Port wine. To get this balance right, consider the following:

  • Taste as You Go: Adjust the sweetness gradually, tasting after each addition to find your perfect balance.
  • Quality Ingredients: Use the freshest cranberries and the best quality orange zest and Port wine you can find for a superior taste.

Cooking Technique

The texture of the cranberry sauce is as important as its taste. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Watch the Heat: Cook the cranberries over medium heat to avoid burning the sugars.
  • Look for the Pop: Listen for the cranberries to pop, indicating they are cooking perfectly and releasing pectin.
  • Stir Gently: Stir the mixture gently to keep the berries intact for a better texture.

The Role of Port Wine

Port wine is not just an ingredient; it’s the cornerstone that sets Emeril’s cranberry sauce apart. Here’s why:

  • Depth of Flavor: Port wine contributes a richness that enhances the inherent flavors of the cranberries and orange zest.
  • A Note on Substitutions: If Port is unavailable, a good quality red wine or cranberry juice can be used to approximate its richness.

Perfecting the Consistency

The natural pectin in cranberries will thicken the sauce as it cools. To ensure the perfect consistency:

  • Cornstarch Slurry: If you prefer a thicker sauce, a cornstarch slurry can be added to achieve the desired thickness.
  • Cooling Time: Allow the sauce to cool for a while after cooking, as it will continue to thicken upon cooling.

The Final Touch

The zest of an orange adds a final touch of brightness that elevates the sauce from good to great. It’s a simple addition that makes a significant difference in the overall flavor profile.

By following these tips, you’ll create a cranberry sauce that’s not only worthy of Emeril’s name but also of your holiday table. Remember, the secret to the perfect Emeril cranberry sauce is in the care and attention to detail you put into preparing it.

FAQs About Emeril’s Cranberry Sauce

Can I make this sauce ahead of time?

Absolutely! This sauce can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

What can I do with leftover cranberry sauce?

Leftover sauce is versatile! Use it as a topping for desserts, mix it into cocktails, or spread it on a sandwich.

How can I adjust the sweetness?

Start with the recommended amount of sugar and then add more, little by little, tasting as you go until it’s just right for your palate.


There you have it—a cranberry sauce that’s not only easy to make but also brings the gourmet touch of Emeril right to your table. This emeril cranberry sauce is more than just a side; it’s a tradition, a taste of the holidays, and a sweet reminder of the joy of cooking.

This article was reviewed and published by Ryan Yates, Culinary Expert with over 15 years of experience in elevated cooking techniques. This process was tested in a working commercial kitchen that Ryan manages as a Professional Chef.

Note: This article was crafted with the primary intent of educating and assisting our readers. We ensure that our content is backed by research and expertise. For more culinary insights, stay tuned to the Authentic Hospitality blog.

We value your feedback! If you found value in this article or have any questions, please subscribe or leave a comment below. Our team, including Ryan Yates, will be more than happy to engage and assist.

Ryan Yates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating