Red Wine and Orange Cranberry Sauce

It’s that time of year again when everyone is thinking through their holiday menu. Well, you’ll want to ditch that canned cranberry sauce for this flavorful and decadent red wine and orange cranberry sauce. As a bonus, it’s ready in less than 15 minutes!

Red wine, fresh cranberries, orange zest, dark brown sugar, cinnamon all-spice create a sophisticated yet simple to make sauce. This red wine and orange cranberry sauce is thick, rich and carries a bold flavor combination. It’s tart from the cranberries of course, but the flavors of the wine, dark brown sugar, spice and citrus also stand out. The red wine reduces down and has a concentrated flavor. So, you’ll want to use good quality red wine. I am using this red blend for my sauce.

Red Wine & Citrus Cranberry Sauce
Red Wine & Orange Cranberry Sauce

I don’t like my sauce to be too sweet, so I’m only using 3/4 cups of sugar, plus sweetness from the orange juice creates the perfect balance of tart and sweet. But if you want to make this a little sweeter, you can add a full cup of sugar.

Picking and Cleaning Fresh Cranberries

Typically fresh cranberries can be found in just about any grocery store this time of year. Before purchasing, look through the bag as much as possible to ensure you’re getting a good bag. Once you open the bag, pick through the cranberries and only use the ones that are firm. Discard any cranberries that are mushy or brown. Finally, give them a good rinse under cold water before adding to pot.

Want to Make it Alcohol-Free

If you’re not about that red wine life and want an alcohol-free version but same rich flavors, then you can substitute with unsweetened pomegranate juice. Use the same amount of pomegranate for the red wine.

Make Ahead and Save Yourself Time

This sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer. You can refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks in advance.

Other Ways to Enjoy This Sauce

If you are curious about some other ways to enjoy this sauce, here are some of my favorites:

  • As a topper for vanilla ice cream, warm the sauce in the microwave for a few seconds and drizzle on top of your favorite vanilla ice cream.
  • Top your pancakes, waffles, or French toast with warmed cranberry sauce. Warm pure maple syrup and drizzle on top for something extra
  • Add to your oatmeal or overnight oats
  • Make orange cranberry muffins or cupcakes. Add to batter or as a swirl on top before baking. You can also add to cupcake or cake frosting

Here are the ingredients and instructions. Do you make cranberry sauce for the holiday? How do you spice it up? Comment below and share.

Prep ingredients for cranberry sauce
Prep ingredients for cranberry sauce

Red Wine and Orange Cranberry Sauce

The flavor combination of red wine, orange juice, zest and cranberries brings a depth of flavor to this holiday favorite.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Category: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: red wine craberry sauce, citrus cranberry sauce, cranberry sauce recipe, traditional cranberry sauce, best cranberry sauce recipe, recipe for cranberry sauce,


  • Medium Sauce Pan


  • 12 oz Fresh cranberries (1 package fresh cranberries or 6 cups)
  • 1 Cup Red wine (I used a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sirah and Merlot)
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 3/4 Cup Dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tsp Orange zest
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks or 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp All-Spice *optional
  • Tiny pinch of salt *optional


  • Combine red wine, orange juice and dark brown sugar in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until sugar completely dissolves.
  • Add cranberries, tiny pinch of salt, orange zest, all-spice, cinnamon sticks and return to a simmer. If you don't want your sauce too thick, this is the time to add about 1/4 cup of water.
  • Let simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries have burst and the sauce is thick. Be sure to stir occasionally to gauge thickness. If sauce starts to dry out before cranberries have burst, you can add a few tbsp of water.
  • Remove the cinnamon sticks before serving. 


  • Choose a red wine that you like to drink because the flavor will be strong in the final dish.
  • I used dark brown sugar because I like the flavor combination but you can also use light brown or granulated sugar.
  • The all-spice is optional, but I love the combination of all-spice and cinnamon.
  • Salt is also optional but I think salt brightens the flavor of sweet dishes.
Cranberry sauce served warm