Mandarin Orange Cranberry Sauce was always a staple at holiday meals when I was a kid. We've been making it exactly like this for decades.
Orange Cranberry Sauce
This orange cranberry sauce recipe isn't a fancy, from-scratch situation, so get your can opener ready! What it IS is quick, easy, and addictive.
My mother-in-law, Lynn, was under-the-weather on Christmas. Since I'm pregnant, she stayed at the hotel rather than risk giving me a stomach bug. I was bummed that she couldn't make it, so we sent my father-in-law, Denis, back with lots of leftovers, including a big container of my family's Mandarin Orange Cranberry Sauce.
We figured that at least she'd get a proper meal when she was feeling better.
We saw both of them the next day. Lynn was feeling better, and Denis could not stop talking about the orange cranberry sauce! Apparently, his sick wife hardly got a bite, because he devoured the whole container that we sent home with him, and he plowed through most of the leftover sauce that evening.
He asked for the recipe, and I thought that if Denis loved it this much, maybe some of you would like to try it, too!
Of course, this is yummy alongside traditional holiday food, but I stirred a couple of big spoonfuls of the leftovers into my morning yogurt instead of my usual mix-ins. Recommended! It's also lovely stirred into oatmeal or eaten straight out of the container. I won't judge!
How to Make Your Mandarin Orange Cranberry Sauce
This sauce is very flexible, and I'm going to quickly walk you through variations, in case you want to mix things up.
There are a couple of things that aren't optional. You definitely want to use whole canned cranberry sauce. Do NOT use the jellied kind of canned cranberry sauce, because this recipe is all about texture.
If possible, find one sweetened with sugar, rather than corn syrup, because I find you get a better result. It's not the end of the world if you use corn syrup-sweetened sauce, though.
You also can't skip the lemon juice or mandarin oranges. They are crucial to this recipe.
The recipe calls for raisins, but you can use currants or any chopped dried fruit of your choice. I like using chopped dried apricots sometimes - yum!
If you don't do nuts or just don't like walnuts, you've got some options. You can skip the walnuts completely, and this recipe is still lovely, but I do like it best with a little bit of nutty crunch. Instead of walnuts, you can use pistachios almonds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds. Make sure you choose roasted nuts, because they won't soften as much (though you do want them to soften a bit, so their flavor incorporates into the sauce).
Mandarin Orange Cranberry Sauce
- 2 14 ounce can whole cranberry sauce - NOT the jelly kind - you want whole berries in there
- 1 15 ounce can mandarin oranges - drained
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice - OR triple sec
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts - optional
- Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl you’re going to use for serving, stirring gently so you don’t break up the orange pieces too much.
- Chill for at least an hour before serving, so the raisins can soak up the lemon juice and the juice from the sauce. You can make this a couple of days ahead if you like – it keeps beautifully for up to a week.