Gluten-Free/ Recipes

Crockpot Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

You’ll love this simple crockpot cranberry sauce. It only uses 5 ingredients (including water) but the bourbon makes it seem much fancier!

When I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner, the oven, the stovetop, pots, and pans are all in use and there’s never quite enough time or kitchen items available. So a few years ago, I decided to put my crockpot to work for one of my favorite side items – fresh cranberry sauce. This simmered away in the corner, out of the way and out of mind. And then I ate it by the spoonful, before, during and after dinner. πŸ™‚ And I plan to do the same thing this year. Perhaps before, during and after Thanksgiving day. Doesn’t hurt to make some in advance, just to test it out, right?? πŸ˜‰ It’s awesome on oatmeal, spooned over ice cream, on sandwiches, on top of kale salads, over a goat cheese log served with crackers. Basically, it’s good on pretty much everything.

Crockpot Cranberry Sauce

Tis officially the holiday season now that I’ve seen fresh cranberries in the grocery store! I also saw Christmas decorations at one of the main shopping centers in Winston today; while Thruway looks super cute decked out in greenery and lights, I have mixed feelings because, man, I LOVE Thanksgiving and I hate that it gets neglected.

A good crockpotΒ (or slow cooker, whichever term you prefer!) is a must-have for your kitchen, so if you don’t love yours (or heaven forbid, you don’t have one), treat yourself to an early Christmas present. This is similar to the one I have, but I’m eyeing this one that’s a little bigger and that allow you to brown meat in it, which is always an extra step to many crockpot recipes. The nice thing about making slow cooker cranberry sauce is that it doesn’t take up valuable stovetop space on Thanksgiving or Christmas!

slow cooker cranberry sauce

A note on your bourbon (or whiskey if you sub that in) – buy something you’d want to drink. Since the recipe doesn’t use much, buy a nice bottle to have around for the holidays rather than something cheap. I love Bulleit and Basil Hayden.

Crockpot Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

  • 1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp bourbon (or a little more, just for good measure πŸ˜‰ )
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extractΒ (high quality extract is important!)


  1. Add the cranberries, sugar and water to a crockpot. Turn to high. Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to low.
  2. Cook over low heat for 2-3 hours until the cranberries have softened and skins start to peel off.
  3. About 45 minutes before serving, add the bourbon and vanilla. Continue cooking over low. I like to add a pinch of salt at this point too.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken slightly before serving.

Be sure to serve in a pretty bowl! ThisΒ and this are both lovely and can be used year round. This is more festive and beautiful for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Be sure to pin this for your Christmas parties and dinners too. It simplifies your life and impresses guests. πŸ™‚

What was your experience with cranberry sauce growing up? We always had the sauce from the can and I loved it. I didn’t even know fresh cranberry sauce was a thing until my adult life. I gravitate towards fresh now, but the canned version still gives me a sense of nostalgia. πŸ™‚

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  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    I hate it (the canned especially), I made it myself a few years ago and it was okay…but I want to try again this year, haha!

  • Meredith @FitNiceRunner

    A friend of mine has a serious cranberry allergy and after an incident with that years ago, I haven’t touched it since but you might have inspired me to give it a go again. I like the crockpot because I’m always short on burners.

  • Shelley

    My mom has always made cranberry sauce on the stove. Really tasty as a condiment to boring (and sometimes dry) turkey, goes with sweet potatoes AND collards. It’s bitter and sweet! Don’t do the canned jelly, it’s REALLY easy to make real cranberry sauce!

    • Teri [a foodie stays fit]

      ooh I’ve never tried cranberry sauce on collards! I’ve actually never made them…do you happen to have a recipe?

  • Katie

    I love the crockpot! Def. adding this to my thanksgiving list! I’m hosting this year πŸ™‚