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This easy cranberry compote recipe is a healthier alternative to cranberry sauce. It’s the perfect side dish to serve with traditional holiday dishes, such as turkey and ham.
Cranberry compote is not just a condiment for savory dishes.
What Is Compote?
Compote is a fruit sauce made from whole fruit, sugar and spices. It is cooked on the stove until it slightly thickens.
Compote, unlike jam, keeps pieces of the whole fruit — in this case cranberries, rather than breaking them down.
Compote is also thinner than sauce, which adds in a thickener.
Cranberry compote can be used as a dessert sauce or served with meats on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
It can be served hot, warm or cold.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This cranberry compote is an easy recipe that takes less than 20 minutes to make.
- It is versatile and works well with both sweet and savory Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes.
- It is much lighter than traditional cranberry sauce, making it a healthy alternative for a heavy holiday meal.
- Cranberries: You can use either fresh or frozen cranberries for this recipe. If you are using frozen cranberries, let them partially thaw for a few minutes at room temperature before making the compote.
- Sugar: Brown sugar adds a rich flavor that pairs well with the cranberries. However, this recipe works just as well with granulated sugar, so use whichever one you prefer.
- Orange Juice & Zest: Orange juice and zest add a bit of bright citrus flavor to the compote. Use freshly squeezed orange juice rather than store bought.
- Cinnamon Stick: The cranberry compote is simmered with a cinnamon stick which will infuse a slight cinnamon flavor.
- Vanilla Extract: A dash of vanilla extract brings all the flavors together. As a creative substitute, you could use pistachio extract or hazelnut extract instead.
- A saucepan to simmer the compote in.
- A wooden spoon to stir the compote.
- Clean glass jars to store the compote in.
Step By Step Instructions
Step 1: Add the cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, sugar and cinnamon stick to a saucepan.
Step 2: Heat over medium to high heat, bringing to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 3: Once all the cranberries has burst, remove the compote from the stove. Discard the cinnamon stick. Stir in the vanilla extract and let it cool to room temperature before storing.
- Ginger Apple Cranberry Compote: Add in some apple slices and 1 teaspoon of diced ginger.
- Berry Cranberry Compote: Replace some of the cranberries with another type of berry, such as blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.
- Rosemary Cranberry Compote: Add in a sprig of fresh rosemary while simmering the compote. Remove before serving.
- Bourbon Cranberry Compote: Mix in 1 to 2 tablespoon of bourbon whiskey.
How To Serve Cranberry Compote
Cranberry compote is extremely versatile in how it can be used. Here are some ideas:
- As a condiment for chicken, duck, turkey or ham for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
- Served on a charcuterie board with soft cheese, such as goat’s cheese.
- Drizzled on top of desserts, such as ice cream or cheesecake.
- Served on banana bread or spread on muffins, such as these banana pear muffins or almond raspberry muffins.
- Served as a topping for these apple oat pancakes or these oat milk pancakes.
Storage & Reheating
- Fridge: Store leftover compote in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 to 10 days. Use a clean, glass container (rather than a plastic one) to store the compote in. This prevents the infusion of any unpleasant flavors from the plastic, as well as stained tupperware from the cranberries.
- Freezer: Store compote in a freezer safe container for up to 3 to 4 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
- Reheating: Before serving, warm leftovers on a saucepan until heated through. Don’t let the compote simmer. Alternatively, heat the compote in the microwave for 20 to 40 seconds until warm. If the compote is too thick after reheating, add a spoonful of water or orange juice to loosen it up.
- Don’t overheat the compote. Maintain a gentle simmer, not a boil. If the compote is heated at too high a temperature or for too long, it will become too thick.
- Partially thaw the cranberries first. If you are using frozen cranberries, partially thaw them first. They don’t need to be fully thawed, but make sure they are not stuck together in a large clump.
- Add water if needed. Cranberries don’t contain as much water as other berries. If you find the compote is too thick, add in an extra spoonful of water to get the desired consistency.
- Make a large batch for a group. This recipe makes about a cup of compote. If you are planning to make this recipe for a large family dinner, you may need to double or triple the recipe.
Cranberry sauce and cranberry compote taste very similar, but have some differences. Cranberry sauce is much thicker than compote due to the use of thickening agents. Compote, on the other hand, is thinner and has less sugar, making it an overall healthier choice.
Yes, this cranberry compote is completely vegan.
If you find the compote is too thick, lower the heat and stir in an extra couple tablespoons of water or orange juice to thin out the compote.