how to make cranberry chutney for Thanksgiving

We’ve all eaten that cranberry sauce out of a can, I’m guessing. You know the stuff. The solid gelatinous red stuff, the one with the indentations of the can on the side, the one that’s not quite real food and sort of hypnotizing in its falseness.

No need to eat that stuff again.

Make your own.

And by the way, the best use for cranberry chutney isn’t on the Thanksgiving table, where it’s pretty well forgotten in the midst of the spread of stuffings and mashed potatoes. It’s the next day, on cold turkey sandwiches. Whole-grain gluten-free bread. A layer of this chutney. Soft goat cheese. Turkey. Repeat.

Oh man, I’m getting hungry now.


2 large navel oranges, zested and juiced
1/4 cup sugar
cinnamon stick
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 large Bartlett pear, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
6 cups cranberries (fresh are best but frozen are fine)

Making the chutney. Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour in the orange juice and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the juice comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves.

Add the cinnamon stick, apple, pear, nutmeg, and cranberries to the sugary orange juice. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer, stirring pretty frequently. (Remember that the sugar means you might burn the chutney. No good.) About 10 minutes in, the cranberries will start to pop and release their juices. (Call the kids over. This part’s cool.) Keep stirring, but a little less frequently now. About 30 minutes in, all the cranberries will have popped and the juiced started to reduce.

Turn off the heat. Add the orange zest. Stir it all together.

Pour the hot chutney into a large, wide bowl or sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Let it cool completely. Put it in an airtight container, ready for the big day.

Feeds 8.

Make ahead: You can make this three days before Thanksgiving. Refrigerate it and let the flavors develop even more fully before you serve it.

Feel like playing? You can add so many different touches to this chutney. It’s endlessly flexible. Try lime and lemon juice and zest along with the orange juice. Try Seville oranges or blood oranges, along with the navels. I love a little cardamom in here. How about quinces instead of apples and pears? I think the scrapings of a fresh vanilla bean would be delightful too. This is easy. Make it yours.

11 comments on “how to make cranberry chutney for Thanksgiving

  1. Cari

    Straight up unadulterated! That’s how I like my cranberry anything! Nothing else to distract from the punch a cranberry can pack except a bit of sugar.

  2. Wendy

    You guys are doing a great job! It is so nice to hear your voices after all these years of reading your blog. Now when I read your stuff I can read it in your voice.

    Hey, tried tangerines one year as we ran out of oranges and man, oh, man! You have got to try it! Just make regular ‘ol cranberry sauce using half the sugar and no water but all juice. It is Fab..u..lous!


  3. Denise

    Left over turkey sandwiches are the BEST. I’m making this chutney, thanks for the recipe & for making me hungry.

  4. Jabbara

    I’ve been making it about that way for years. I leave out the pear and add grated ginger and blanched almonds. The almonds get very pink and add a little crunch. It can be frozen if there’s too much leftover.

  5. Heather

    i haven’t watched your video yet, but the look he’s giving you in the still is really sweet. that’s all, i just wanted to note how cute it was, that look you;re getting there…

  6. Cynthia

    I have made my own cranberry chutney/sauce for years. Crystalized ginger adds a really nice touch. I make it in a crockpot/slowcooker. You don’t have to worry about it burning then!

  7. Bellingham Barb

    Cranberry chutney! So glad I’m not the only one. I use a traditional Indian green mango chutney recipe and sub the cranberries in–raw. No cooking. Ginger, garam masala, chopped raisins. Yum.

  8. Dana

    Cranberries are one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving…and I used to live in WI right near the cranberry bogs. They are so pretty when they all float up and are being harvested. This sounds amazing…can’t wait to try it!! šŸ™‚

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