Cranberry Sauce with Apples

Looking for a cranberry sauce with apples? This easy cranberry recipe  gets a triple shot of apple goodness with apple cider, fine-diced apples and Calvados (or other apple brandy). This spiced cranberry sauce makes a great Thanksgiving side dish or spread for leftover turkey sandwiches.

Ingredients for the cranberry sauce.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

I admit, that for a long time, I wanted nothing to do with spiced cranberry sauce.  Those cans of jelled goo were decidedly unappetizing to me and I could never fully embrace my grandmother’s cranberry relish (made of raw cranberries and unpeeled oranges) thus, I avoided the traditional Thanksgiving cranberry sauce and instead, doubled up on gravy. But then I started making my own Holiday cranberry sauce — and found that when I controlled the ingredients, I liked it a whole lot better.  Maybe it was the sugar and spice — or maybe it had something to do with the several cups of red zinfandel… {smirk}.  In any case, it’s been my go-to recipe for years.

A bowl of cranberries with brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, wine and cider.

The Best Cranberry Sauce

This year I’m switching it up.  Not because I don’t love my go-to recipe, but because I found myself with a bag of cranberries — and NO RED WINE… Most people would just hold off until the next trip to the store, but not me. The family was having a “Thanksgiving cranberry sauce craving” and I had to deliver. Poking around the kitchen, I found one ingredient that we had plenty of… Apples.  Apples in the form of fruit, apple cider and even apple brandy. I thought about it  for about 5 seconds before determining that cranberry sauce with apples seemed like a very good thing…

chopped apples.


  • Fresh Cranberries
  • Brown Sugar
  • Sparkling Wine or White Wine (remember, I was out of red)
  • Apple Cider
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Whole Cloves
  • Apples (I used honey crisp)
  • Calvados or other Apple Brandy
Cooking the apples and cranberries until the berries burst.

Making The Sauce

  1. Heat the sugar, spices, apple cider and wine together until the sugar melts and the liquid reduces a little to become syrupy.
  2. REMOVE THE WHOLE CLOVES. If you forget this step, you’ll have whole cloves floating around in your cranberry sauce. If you ever accidentally bitten into a whole clove, you’ll know it’s not an experience you want to repeat.  Remove the cloves BEFORE adding the berries.  You can continue to cook with the cinnamon stick in the pot — I mean, you’ll be able to SEE the cinnamon stick — and you’ll know NOT TO EAT IT.
  3. Add the cranberries and apples and bring to a rolling, frothing boil.
  4. The cranberries will pop and maybe splatter — that’s good. Stir the pot occasionally until all the cranberries are burst.
  5. Remove the pot from the stove and fish out the cinnamon stick.
  6. Stir in the Calvados or brandy.
  7. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
Chilling the cranberry apple sauce in a bowl to firm up and gel.

The cranberry sauce with apples will thicken a bit as it chills. Above is a photo of the spiced cranberry sauce right after pouring it into the bowl — you can see it’s still a bit loose. Below is a photo of the sauce after it’s been refrigerated.

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A dish of cranberry apple sauce.

It tastes phenomenal right from the pot — but also directly from the fridge, where I may have dipped my spoon for a sweet-tart bite {strictly for quality control purposes}. Let me say that this recipe has created some stiff competition for our traditional Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce.


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A dish of apple cranberry sauce.
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5 from 6 votes

Cranberry Sauce with Apples

This delicious cranberry apple sauce has chunks of fruit and is simmered with white wine, spices and a dash of apple brandy.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword apple cider, apples, cranberries, thanksgiving, wine
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8


  • 1 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white wine or sparkling wine
  • ¾ cup apple cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cup finely diced apples I used Honeycrisp
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados or other apple brandy optional


  • In a large saucepan, over medium high heat add the apple cider, wine, brown sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes syrupy.
  • Remove the whole cloves from the syrup and discard.
  • Stir in the cranberries and chopped apples. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes or until the cranberries have popped. Transfer the pot off the heat. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.
  • Stir in the Calvados or brandy, if using and simmer for one minute. Cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Serve.


YouTube video


Calories: 141kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 89mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 1.1mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 0.3mg

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  1. 5 stars
    This will be on my Thanksgiving table! How about adding some orange zest too?

  2. 5 stars
    I love the color and look of this Cranberry Sauce. It looks so delicious and tempting to try.

  3. 5 stars
    The canned cranberry sauce never looked appetizing to me either so I never ate it. I love the idea of adding alcohol and spices to fresh cranberries. Such a great idea!

    1. not just alcohol — Calvados brandy — its so good.

  4. 5 stars
    I love fruit-heavy cranberry sauces but generally go with orange rather than apple. But apple goes so well so I can definitely see this being good. Love the gentle spicing as well. Yum!

  5. 5 stars
    oh how pretty this is I have never seen it like this before and love that it’s whole cransberries

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve been on the search for a healthier cranberry sauce and this is the one, for sure! Thanks for such a delicious recipe!