This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
My Grandmother’s recipe for Cranberry Chutney is the perfect balance of tart and sweet. Easy and aromatic, a Holiday table wouldn’t be complete without it!
I live for homemade cranberry chutney. It may seem odd, but the reason that I make roasted chicken is to have an excuse to eat it. One year my Mom forgot to make the cranberry chutney for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner and there were tears. It was ugly. I try not to think about it.
My grandmother’s recipe for cranberry chutney is sweet but still just the right amount of tart. It is cohesive, yet you can distinguish the various ingredients. Magic. I put it in cranberry cinnamon jam bars, as a filling for these spiced apple cider cranberry cupcakes, and directly on my plate any time I make roasted chicken or slow cooker ham recipes!
I know tradition and Nature dictate that cranberries are eaten in fall and winter, but that is what freezers are for. I eat this chutney all year round. There is a happy bag of frozen fresh cranberries sitting in my freezer with the vodka (for vodka pie crust!) right now.
Table of Contents
Why you will love Nana’s Cranberry Chutney:
- It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Cranberries can be incredibly tart on their own, but this recipe finds the ideal balance between tart cranberries, sweet sugar, and savory warming spices.
- You can make it year-round. With a bag of frozen cranberries on hand, you can enjoy this chutney any time of year.
- This recipe easily doubles! This cranberry chutney recipe makes 16 servings. But you can easily make a double or even triple batch for large holiday gatherings and potlucks.
- It also makes a great holiday gift! Fill decorative jars and make custom labels for an easy, unique hostess gift.
Professional tips for making Cranberry Apple Chutney
- Cranberry choice: To choose the freshest and best-tasting fruit, choose cranberries that are bright red in color, plump, firm and shiny. More deeply colored fruit will be more flavorful, while cranberries with brown spots or wrinkles should not be purchased.
- Cook time: For the best flavor, it’s important to give this recipe ample time to cook. Ideally, you want several hours to allow the apples, carrots and celery enough time to break down and integrate into the chutney. However, this won’t all be active time. You can let it cook on low and stir occasionally. You can make it in 30 minutes but I find the flavor isn’t as complex and the texture is less cohesive.
- Cranberries: This recipe calls for fresh, whole cranberries. If you can’t find fresh cranberries, you can buy frozen cranberries instead. You don’t even need to thaw the cranberries before cooking! Just keep the heat low until they begin releasing their juices.
- Seedless Raisins: I like to use half red and half golden raisins for this recipe. It is totally up to you though! Pro tip: your spare raisins for another one of Nana’s recipes, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!
- Sugar: White granulated sugar is best for this recipe. Brown sugar contains molasses, which will consequently alter the taste of your chutney.
- Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon is best here as opposed to cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon will add a warm flavor to the chutney that tastes like the holidays.
- Ginger: You will want to use dried, ground ginger here. This will integrate the ginger flavor into the dish without having any pieces of ginger present.
- Cloves: Dried, ground cloves are best for this recipe. They will impart a subtly sweet, warm flavor to the dish.
- Allspice: This is an optional ingredient. Allspice is a powerful spice, and if you have family members who don’t like it, feel free to leave it out.
- Water: I prefer to use water here rather than the apple cider vinegar called for in other recipes, as I find that vinegar masks the flavor of the other ingredients. Apple cider vinegar will be too acidic for this particular recipe. The neutral flavor of water allows the other ingredients to shine.
- Brandy: This is an optional ingredient, but if you choose to use it, you can use up to 2 ½ teaspoons.
- Celery: The celery will need to be finely diced. Be sure to cut the celery and onion into evenly sized pieces.
- Onion: Finely dice the onion as well. You can use a yellow or sweet onion for this recipe.
- Apple: Peel and core the apple before finely dicing it! Different types of apples will lend different flavors to the chutney. For a more tart chutney, select a green variety like a Granny Smith apple. For something sweeter, try a Honeycrisp apple.
This chutney is more complex than a traditional cranberry sauce recipe. There is an added layer of tartness, rather than strictly sweetness, that provides a depth of flavor missing in regular cranberry sauce.
How to Make Cranberry Chutney
Use these instructions to make the perfect fresh cranberry chutney. Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Gather and measure all of the ingredients for the chutney. Finely dice the celery and onion. Peel, core, and finely dice the apple.
Cutting your carrots, onions, and apples into a uniform dice will allow them to cook evenly and incorporate into the chutney more easily.
Step 2: Combine cranberries, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and water in a large saucepan.
Step 3: Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries pop.
Step 4: Stir in celery, onion, apple and brandy. Simmer for at least 15 minutes and up to several hours. This allows the celery, onion, and apple to integrate into the mixture and for it to slightly thicken.
Cranberry chutney is a beautiful addition to any holiday table. It can be presented simply in a serving dish of your choosing. Try placing it on the table between some of the more less colorful dishes, like turkey and rolls, for a pop of color.
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
I usually cook this chutney for several hours over very low heat. It blends the flavors, softens all the ingredients, and allows time for it to reduce and thicken.
Variations & Substitutions
- You can use fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe. If using frozen cranberries, you can either thaw them overnight prior to cooking or keep the heat on low until they begin releasing their juices.
- Try adding some chopped pecans to this chutney for additional texture and richness.
- For a sweeter chutney, you could add finely chopped candied ginger in place of the ginger powder.
- Rather than water, orange juice and zest are possible substitutions. This will add some sweetness, brightness, and citrus flavor to the overall dish.
- Apple cider can also be used in place of water. This will provide a sweet, fruity flavor with a touch of spice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Chutney is a condiment made from fruit, vegetables, sugar, and spices that are slow-cooked until they reach a spreadable but chunky consistency similar to preserves.
I would not recommend making this recipe with dried cranberries. If you aren’t able to find fresh cranberries, frozen cranberries are a better option.
You can serve cranberry chutney as a part of your Thanksgiving day spread, serve chutney over cream cheese or with brie and crackers as an appetizer, or serve it on leftover turkey sandwiches.
Store leftover cranberry chutney in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. This chutney can also be frozen for approximately 6 months.
- 3 ½ cups cranberries or 1 12oz bag; fresh or frozen
- ¾ cup raisins I like to use half red and half golden
- 1 ⅓ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 6 oz water
- 1 teaspoon brandy optional – or you could use more…I’ve used up to 2 ½ teaspoons
- ½ cup celery finely diced
- ½ cup onion finely diced
- ¾ cup apple peeled and cored, finely diced
Prepare the Ingredients
- Gather and measure all of the ingredients for the chutney.
- Finely dice the celery and onion.
- Peel, core, and finely dice the apple.
Cook the Cranberry Chutney
- Combine cranberries, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and water in a large saucepan.
- Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries pop.
- Stir in celery, onion, apple and brandy. Simmer for at least 15 minutes and up to several hours. This allows the celery, onion, and apple to integrate into the mixture and for it to slightly thicken.
Before You Go
I hope you enjoyed this professional chef-tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed Thanksgiving recipes!