Sam Sifton's Basic Cranberry Sauce


[Photograph: Kate Williams]

Yes, cranberry sauce is a given. You probably make a homemade version to accompany its canned brethren in order to appease the most strident of canned-sauce believers. But often homemade cranberry sauce recipes include a cascade of spices, fruits, and nuts to distract from the fact that the sauce is simply a frozen bag of bouncy fruits cooked up with far too much sugar.

In Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well, Sam Sifton offers a straightforward yet well-balanced Basic Cranberry Sauce to counter all of those overwrought bowls of relish. It is simply cranberries cooked quickly with orange juice, zest, and just enough sugar to counter the berries' tartness.

Why I picked this recipe: Simple, well-made cranberry sauce should enhance, not distract from the rest of the meal. Sifton's recipe offers just that.

What worked: As promised, this basic sauce was easy, quick, and tasted great next to a slice of turkey smothered in gravy, as well as on a leftovers sandwich the next day.

What didn't: The sauce needed just a pinch of salt in my salt-loving opinion.

Suggested tweaks: Yes, this recipe is easy to tweak/enhance, but I'd suggest making it as is for the purest cranberry flavor.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies (each) of Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well and The Epicurious Cookbook to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at

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