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Instant Pot Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

This (optionally) boozy cranberry sauce can be made several days in advance and is the perfect addition to any holiday meal! Stovetop variation included.

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Can you believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving? Related: can you believe my son will be SEVEN years old tomorrow?

Guys. It’s flying by.

Between birthday celebrations and class Thanksgiving parties, it has been quite a busy few weeks over here.

And when life gets hectic, sometimes you just need a good splash-o-bourbon.

3/4 view of a bowl of Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon next to an Instant Pot.

The bourbon in this Instant Pot Spiced Cranberry Sauce is totally optional, but highly encouraged if you’re a fan. If you want it boozy but aren’t a bourbon fan, Grand Marnier would be a fun choice, and I bet a spiced rum would be tasty, too. I’d be willing to do some experimentation with different types of liquor… you know… for science 😉

As you’ll see in the video at the top of this post, I tend to make this sauce quickly in my Instant Pot, divide it in half, and just add bourbon to half of it. That way if there are kids or other people who don’t want their cranberries to be boozy, they have their own separate dish.

This Instant Pot Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon is a variation on my family’s favorite Bourbon-Orange Cranberry Sauce that I’ve been making on the stovetop for years. It’s super simple, and thanks to the Instant Pot it’s even easier now!

Overhead view of an Instant Pot filled with cranberries, sugar, and spices.

If you’ve never used an Instant Pot before, this is an easy recipe to try out! It will introduce you to the sauté function and the pressure cooking option.

For this recipe, we’ll use the natural release method, which means that you wait for the pressure to drop on its own before you open the lid. The time it takes to build and release pressure varies, but for me and my Instant Pot the release took 13 minutes.

Again, you can totally make this on the stovetop if you don’t have a pressure cooker (or if it’s being used for something like these glorious Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes!). If you’re using the stovetop method, bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and stir every 10 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency – about 30-35 minutes total.

Overhead view of a bowl of Instant Pot Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon with whole spices.

The Instant Pot method isn’t necessarily faster, but you don’t have to spend time babysitting the saucepan. You can go about your day and come back to it when the cook time is over. And if you’re busy when it finishes, there’s no need to worry! The Instant Pot automatically switches to the “Keep Warm” function. You can leave it there for as long as you need to.

The texture of this cranberry sauce will thicken as it sits, and it really gels up once it’s in the refrigerator. Feel free to serve it warm, or refrigerate it for at least an hour and up to several days.

Close up of a spoon of Instant Pot Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

I usually make this spiced cranberry sauce in my Instant Pot several days before I plan to serve it if I’m cooking a big meal. One less thing to do on a holiday is such a lifesaver, right?

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving if you celebrate. May your bellies and hearts be full!

What’s your favorite holiday side dish? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

Looking for more Instant Pot recipes? Check out some of our favorites:

Recipe for Instant Pot Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

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3/4 view of a bowl of Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon next to an Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

  • Author: Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen - Ashley Covelli (adapted from Bon Appétit)
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes (plus pressure build/release time)
  • Yield: about 4 cups
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This (optionally) boozy cranberry sauce can be made several days in advance and is the perfect addition to any holiday meal! Stovetop variation included.


Ingredients

  • 24 ounces whole cranberries (2 12-ounce bags)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 wide strips fresh orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place cranberries, sugar, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, orange zest, and orange juice in the insert of your Instant Pot. Set to sauté on high, and heat until it comes to a boil, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

     

  2. Close lid and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally.

     

  3. Once pressure is released, transfer cranberry sauce to a bowl and stir in bourbon, if using. Let stand until cool to the touch, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

Be sure to remove the whole spices from your cranberry sauce before serving. You could also use a bit of cheesecloth or a tea ball to contain the spices and make them easier to take out after cooking.

Cranberry sauce keeps well for several days in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long!) and is a great candidate for make-ahead cooking.

If you don’t like bourbon, an orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier would be a great choice. This is also delicious without any alcohol – I usually divide it in half and put 2 tablespoons of bourbon in one portion of the sauce, then mark the container so nobody gets an accidental dose of straight bourbon!

If you’re making this on the stovetop, bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and stir every 10 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency – about 30-35 minutes total.

Keywords: Thanksgiving, bourbon, cranberry sauce

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