Velvety smooth cranberry sauce is made extra thick and rich with the addition of apples, vanilla bean, and the juice and zest from oranges. The yield is large- enough to serve your large extended family or for you to do some canning and save extra jars for later. Alternatively, you can easily halve this recipe too! What I love most is that this recipe can be made with or without sugar, depending on how tart you’d like your cranberry apple sauce.
I’ve been very into making purees lately. Not because I necessarily want to, but because I have a 10-month-old who has preferred purees for months! Naturally that led me to experimenting with all sorts of pureed fruit combinations with whatever fruits are in season. After I made him this velvety cranberry apple sauce without sugar, I couldn’t stop licking the spoon – it was THAT good! This sauce is also delicious stirred into plain or vanilla yogurt, sweetened whipped cream, or cream cheese frosting.
What kind of apples should I use?
Typical baking apples are slightly crunchy, but we want to use soft apples in this recipe. I prefer to leave the skins on to make prep much easier. Due to the low and slow cooking method, this works very well. These are my favorite soft apples to use (in order):
- Pink Lady
- Golden Delicious
Ingredients in cranberry apple sauce
You won’t need several ingredients to make this recipe. The orange juice is used in lieu of water to provide a little more natural sugar and flavor for the sauce.
- Apples: cut into cubes and cored. See list above for preferred soft apples.
- Cranberries: rinsed and left whole.
- Oranges: Juiced, with one full orange zested or peeled.
- Vanilla Bean: Split and seeded.
- Sugar: optional for added sweetness. Still slightly tart without.
How to make velvety smooth cranberry sauce
Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot over medium heat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until boiling, stirring every few minutes. Reduce heat to low and use an immersion blender to crush the cranberries and apples. This creates a velvety-smooth texture. Alternatively, you can mash the mixture with a potato masher. Continue simmering another 5 minutes as the sauce cools. The texture should be quite thick and will continue to thicken as it cools.
If you’d like, you can strain the mixture to remove more seeds. This will produce the smoothest texture, but is absolutely not necessary.
Velvety Cranberry Apple Sauce
Velvety smooth cranberry sauce is made extra thick and rich with the addition of apples, vanilla bean, and the juice and zest from oranges.
- 5 small (450g/16oz/1 pound) soft apples, cored, diced
- 2 lbs (907g) cranberries, fresh or frozen*
- 1 cup (240ml/8 oz) orange juice, freshly squeezed *4 oranges used
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest or thin peels *from 1 orange
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded, or 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar (optional)
Combine apples, cranberries, orange juice and zest, and vanilla bean in a large stock pot over medium heat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until boiling, stirring every few minutes. Carefully remove vanilla bean pod.
Reduce heat to low and use an immersion blender to crush the cranberries and apples. This creates a velvety-smooth texture. You can mash the mixture with a potato masher, too, but it will not produce the smooth texture. Alternatively, transfer to a blender at the end of cooking to achieve desired consistency.
Stir in sugar if using. Continue simmering another 5 minutes as the sauce cools. The texture should be quite thick and will continue to thicken as it cools.
At this point, you can transfer the mixture to mason jars if canning, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until needed. This sauce keeps well for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, so I like to make it in advance. Alternatively, it does freeze and thaw very well too.
Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature. This sauce is delicious either way!
*I use fresh cranberries, but frozen will work just as well. They will need slightly longer cooking times.