This cranberry cherry compote recipe is tart, sweet, and rich, and only takes 25 minutes to make. It’s the perfect addition to any Thanksgiving or Christmas feast.
Cranberries are a traditional holiday ingredient, and this cranberry cherry compote is one of my go-to recipes. It’s got the perfect amount of acidity and sweetness to balance out the rich flavors at the Thanksgiving or Christmas table.
The flavors are reminiscent of the cranberry sauce we all grew up eating at the holidays. But those traditional flavors are elevated with this recipe, even though it only takes about 25 minutes to make. Plus, you can make it ahead of time, so that your holiday cooking can be that much easier.
What Makes This Cranberry Cherry Compote Recipe So Good?
This recipe is all about balance. There’s just the right amount of tartness from the cranberries and the orange zest. But those mouth-puckering flavors are balanced by sweetness from brown sugar, orange juice, and cherries. Add in a little bit of spice in the form of cinnamon, and this cranberry cherry compote has a little bit of everything.
All the flavors work in harmony in this recipe. It’s not too sweet, nor is it too tart, or too spicy. And who doesn’t love a 25-minute holiday recipe?
Here’s everything you need to make this easy cranberry cherry compote. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the page to see the exact ingredient amounts.
- Whole cranberries – You can use fresh or frozen cranberries.
- Cherries – Make sure to use dark, sweet cherries. They can be frozen or fresh.
- Orange juice – Use fresh-squeezed orange juice for best results.
- Orange zest
- Brown sugar
How to Make Cranberry Cherry Compote
This is one of the easiest recipes I know. It only has a few steps, and barely takes any time at all.
- Heat. Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and heat over medium until the mixture begins to simmer.
- Cook. Simmer until many of the cranberries have popped and softened. This should take between 10 and 15 minutes.
- Lightly mash. Lightly mash the compote. This will help it thicken.
- Serve. Serve the cranberry cherry compote hot off the stove, or cool it in the fridge and serve cold.
This simple cranberry cherry compote recipe is pretty perfect. However, if you want to play with it, you can try a few different variations. Here are some of my favorites.
- Make it spicier. This is a very wintry dish, and you can add to that by spicing it up. There’s already some spice from the cinnamon, but you can add allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and even black pepper. These will all give the compote a little bit of a kick, while going very well with the fruity flavors.
- Add some alcohol. A common addition to cranberry compotes and sauces is some alcohol. A little bit of red wine or port will make the recipe a bit richer, and more complex.
- Mix in some dried fruit. Compotes often have dried fruit in them, which adds some texture. Mixing in some raisins or dried apricots will nicely contrast the cherries and cranberries.
- Increase the citrus. This cranberry cherry compote has a nice citrus kick from the orange zest. If you’re a fan of citrus, you can bump up that flavor, either by increasing the orange zest amount, or by adding lemon or grapefruit zest, too.
- Make it thicker. If you’re a fan of thick compotes, you can cook this recipe for an extra 10 or so minutes. Not only will it make the compote thicker, but it will make the flavors more intense, too!
Here are a few common questions that people have about this cranberry cherry compote recipe.
What is a compote?
A compote is a sauce made by cooking fruit in a sugary substance. It’s different from jam or jelly because the fruit stays mostly whole. And it’s usually a bit lighter than a cranberry sauce.
Does it make a difference if you use fresh fruit?
There really isn’t a noticeable difference between fresh and frozen cherries and cranberries in this recipe. It works equally well with both, so you should use whatever is most convenient, or most affordable at your grocery store.
My favorite way to serve this cranberry cherry compote is simply as a side dish at Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s the perfect sweet and tart side dish to balance the richness of a holiday meal.
Compotes are often served in place of jam, and this recipe is fantastic on top of a fresh piece of bread or a warm scone. It’s also great as a topping for a parfait. It’s common to use compotes as a sauce for a piece of meat, too, which I love. This recipe goes wonderfully atop a pork chop, or on a slice of turkey or chicken.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Another great thing about this cranberry cherry compote recipe is that you can make it ahead of time. It will last for 1 week in the fridge in an airtight container. You can serve the compote cold, or reheat it. If you want to reheat it, cook it in the microwave on medium heat for 15 seconds at a time until it’s warm, or heat on the stove over low heat.
This compote recipe will also last in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the frozen cranberry cherry compote before reheating.
More Cranberry Recipes
If you enjoyed this cranberry cherry compote, then check out a few of my other favorite cranberry recipes.
- Cranberry white chocolate cookies
- Apple cranberry crisp
- Cranberry orange breakfast cake
- Cranberry shortbread bars
- Pumpkin cranberry granola
Cranberry Cherry Compote
- 2 ½ cups whole cranberries, (fresh or frozen)
- 1 ½ cups dark sweet cherries, quartered (fresh or frozen)
- ¼ cup orange juice, (fresh squeezed is best)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.
- Add all ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well, then bring to a simmer.
- The cranberries will start to pop as they soften. Once the cranberries are softened (about 10-15 minutes of simmering), use the back of a wooden spoon or a masher to gently mash them. Once mashed, the sauce will start to thicken.
- Remove from heat and serve warm, or refrigerate before serving if preferred.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.