Friday, November 15, 2013

Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce – I'm Fine Now, But I Used to Be Nuts

It funny how certain food memories stick in your brain, and this maple walnut cranberry sauce is the result of one such remembrance. I can’t tell you when or where, but sometime during my formative years I saw a cranberry sauce loaded with chopped walnuts, and I totally freaked. 

Not outwardly, as I have a decent poker face, but inside I was like, “what the hell is that?” That’s how it was for me early in life. If I saw a food prepared differently from the way I’d always seen it, I just assumed it was a terrible idea. Like ketchup on a hot dog…okay, so I happened to be right that time, but generally it’s not a great attitude to have.

As I pondered this season’s annual Thanksgiving cranberry sauce, and which styles I hadn’t tried yet, I remembered how off-putting that walnut-studded version was, and I decided to face my demons. I’m happy to report, as usual, I was totally wrong. It works perfectly.

Besides the nuts, I really enjoyed the job the maple syrup did sweetening the acidic berries. I recommend using a Grade B maple syrup if you can find it. It’s darker and thicker, and boasts a stronger maple flavor, so it’s the preferred syrup for cooking and baking by those in the know (also know as, “Canadians”).

So, if you’re looking for new and exciting cranberry sauce recipe this holiday season, I hope you give this a try. You’d be nuts not to. Enjoy!

Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce Ingredients:
(makes about 2 cups)
1 (12 oz) package fresh cranberries, washed
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup port wine
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp orange zest
pinch of salt
1 cup chopped walnut, toasted a light golden-brown


Anonymous said...

HI! I posted this comment on the youtube video as well but I thought you might have more chances of seeing it if I posted it here:

I'm really glad you talked about the maple syrup types. As a Canadian from Quebec, from a family who used to produce maple syrup in small quantities, we know that the darkest the maple syrup is, the sweetest it is (because it's been boiled longer). Don't let yourself be fooled by a seller who's gonna tell you the lightest one is the ''clearest, best'' one (honestly he just wants to sell you the one which costs the less to produce). Some say the darkest ones come from the latest harvest, I don't know how true is that, but it's best to get one in the beginning of the season and that has been boiled more. That's it! :) Enjoy, looks delicious.

Chef John said...

thanks for the extra info!

cookingwithsapana said...

Very beautiful !

Unknown said...

Hi Chef!
No matter topic, but how do you sharpen your knife?

Chef John said...

We take them to a knife sharpener once in a while to get professionally sharpened. It's only a few dollars per knife and it's so much better than I could do. Everyone should use this method! :)

Judy said...

This sounds like cranberry sauce from my childhood! :) I LOVE walnuts in C. sauce. (Of course I love the texture of nuts in so so so many things!) Nice one, Chef! TY for always tossing out such great holiday recipes every year!

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Dang Chef! 'Dat 'der cranberry sauce wit' walnuts looks purty' swell. And I only thunk dat' cranberry sauce came out of a can. Thanks! your da' best!

Incidentally my finicky lady-friend claims dat' I gots' bad grammer and often reminds me dat' good grammer is "feeling your nuts and feeling you're nuts". I gots ta' go now and gather me up sum' walnuts. c-ya!

Gene said...

couldn't get fresh cranberries at my place, is it ok if i use dried ones? thanks

Chef John said...

Yes, but only half the amount.

katkat1717 said...

Hi Chef John,

This looks amazing, and I would love to try it. I was given the job of cranberry sauce this year, and I have never made fresh sauce before.

I have a question about a possible non-alcoholic substitute for the port wine. We have a few super strict persons in the family. Who won't touch alcohol, even if it has been boiled off.

Thanks in advance.

Chef John said...

Just leave it out. Enjoy!

pkeyrich said...

So far, so good. I have tasted it at hot and room temps, and can't wait for the taste test after refrigeration!

I found a tip which may be useful in regard to the walnuts. I lack the skill of doing as the video, so I toasted the walnuts and transferred them to the same type colander used for rinsing the cranberries, and then used a spoon to stir the nuts so that the tiny particles would fall through, getting rid of the bitter bits. Hope that helps someone.

JSN723 said...

Hey Chef John, loved this recipe. Making it again for Christmas... do you think adding a star anise would improve upon it without changing the flavor too drastically? I really like how the flavor is right now but I want to experiment with adding star anise since I feel like it would go well with the rest of the flavors?

Unknown said...


Thank you for all of your delicious Thanksgiving recipes!! I am wondering if there is a recipe for the cranberry sauce without using any processed sugar? My husband and I do not eat any processed sugar and I have had a difficult time finding recipes that don't include it. The maple syrup is a good ingredient, however, the sugar is still part of the!!
Thank you!!

Unknown said...

Is there a reason why you used white sugar? I generally see cranberry recipes with brown instead. I have both types of sugar in my pantry but I am just wondering.

Unknown said...

Chef, I have family members with a walnut allergy. Suggestions for a substitute? I was toying with pecans, but macadamia nuts also came to mind.

Chef John said...

I think pecans would be best!

Aristocob said...

I made this tonight but substituted apple juice for the alcohol and it came out great. I also doubled the recipe while I was at it and it looks like we'll have enough cranberry sauce for an army! Great recipe and video, CJ. Scott

LuisaCA said...

Made this yet again with after-holiday cranberries. SO very good, esp on Greek yogurt !

Shelby said...

I just started making this and realized I forgot the ginger. Is there anything else I can do, or should I just go back to the store.

angela18 said...


angela18 said...

I used the ginger and it really adds an awesome flavor

sahar said...

Hello Chef,

How can i make a frozen turkey??

I'm in Norway they dont sell fresh turkey:(
everything is frozen even cranberries

GingerSling said...

Hello Chef John! I started watching when I saw your Pig in a Pumpkin video pop up in one of my feeds & I've been hooked ever since. I will be making a couple of your recipes for Thanksgiving this year - the saltine cracker dressing & this one, the maple walnut cranberry sauce. (I also took some pointers from your cheese board & will be presenting that as an appetizer).

I would make whole berry sauce in the past, but never with maple or walnuts. This will be my first time! My question is, am I ok with Grade A maple syrup? I could not find it & now I see that the grading system has changed, so I'm all cornfused.

Thanks! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Unknown said...

Chef John, You knocked it out of the park with this one! Every recipe I've done of yours has been great and this was no exception. I can't wait to share this with the family today. Happy Thanksgiving!