Spiced-Tea Cranberry Sauce

I’m usually a not fan of cranberry sauce or relish, the very traditional side dish that is a Thanksgiving staple – but this year I’m to make three things for the family Thanksgiving dinner- a pumpkin pie (only my mother’s recipe), an apple pie AND some sort of cranberry compote.

I think I’ve looked at a thousand cranberry sauce/relish recipes in the last couple of days – well maybe not a thousand, but it sure seemed like that. A boozy cranberry sauce? Add some Cabernet. Or how about some Almond liquor to add a twist to this otherwise classic recipe. I found another one and it said” add a splash of bourbon and plenty of black pepper to make this very grown-up cranberry sauce.” Another grown-up recipe – Cosmopolitan Cranberry Sauce called for both vodka and Grand Marnier to “kick up” the cranberries. And the recipe that called for figs and grated ginger (not so bad) but then adding a generous glug of Pinot Noir. How much is a glug? ½ cup, 1 cup, 2 or more cups? I actually looked up the word glug in the dictionary to see if the definition included and actual amount – but no – it just said, “drink or pour (liquid) with a hollow gurgling sound.” Thanks Merriam -Webster.

Are you beginning to see a pattern emerging with all of these cranberry sauce recipes? A little bit of liquor or a glug, you take your pick. So, a light bulb went on and I thought if there are all those recipes out there with various kinds of liquor as an ingredient, maybe there were some that called for tea. And do you know, I actually found several. The one I chose uses Earl grey tea as the “secret” ingredient to make a sweetly, lightly spiced sauce. They did, however, suggest that you pay close attention to the timing, as too much steeping could cause the sauce to become bitter.

So, on Thanksgiving Day, when everyone raves about the cranberries – I’ll say bet you can’t guess the secret ingredient that made these lowly little cranberries taste so yummy? I don’t think ANYONE will guess Earl Grey tea!          Happy Thanksgiving!!!!


2 ¼ cups sugar

4 whole cardamon pods

3 whole star anise

3 cinnamon sticks

5 Earl Grey tea bags

8 whole cranberries (about 2 ½ bags, fresh or frozen)


In a 4-quart pot over high heat, combine 1 3/4 cups water; 2 1/4 cups sugar; 4 whole cardamom pods; 3 whole star anise; and 3 cinnamon sticks. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Add 5 Earl Grey tea bags, and simmer exactly 2 minutes. Remove tea bags and spices with a slotted spoon and add 8 cups whole cranberries (about 2 1/2 bags, fresh or frozen). Increase heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring often, until cranberries soften and split their skins and sauce thickens, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving (the sauce will thicken further as it cools). Or cover and refrigerate up to 4 days.

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