Cranberry Chutney

Have you ever gone away for a few weeks and found out that you’d left the freezer door ajar? Well, I did. And let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.

Before traveling, since I’m anti-gaspillage (against food waste), I jammed whatever I could into my already-stuffed freezer, including a half-eaten tomato tart, which I thought would be nice to have ready-and-waiting upon my arrival home, partially-used blocks of butter, and the miscellaneous leftover ends of bread that one collects when one constantly buys too much bread. When I returned, I realized that one of those bread pieces had been caught in the door and kept it from sealing closed.

Oddly, the fridge doors have an alarm, which beeps if they’re not completely shut, but the freezer door doesn’t. Coming home to an array of items that were half-frozen, half-defrosted (with gloopy liquid oozing out of them), possibly defrosted and then refrozen, and a few that were unidentifiable, was a bummer.

Some things I knew had to go – like sausages, stock, and a rather moldy half-eaten tomato tart, that I was sure could be reheated when I returned from my travels. (I won’t share a picture of that, but it looked like it needed a good shave.) But I also had several precious bags of cranberries that I’d stashed away for Thanksgiving and while they weren’t completely defrosted, I didn’t want to (or know if I could) refreeze them, so I decided to make chutney…and a whole lotta it.

Fortunately, all my candied and dried fruits were in fine condition and since I was cleaning my freezer, I also did a little purge of my drawers of things that weren’t sparking joy in my kitchen, and cooked them all up with some spices, some honey, orange juice, and vinegar, to make this tangy-tangy condiment.

(Just a note that dried fruits always spark joy in me. But a drawerful of little crinkled up cellophane bags with thirteen raisins or two dried apricots in them, don’t.)

To share my joy with you, I whittled my catastrophe-size recipe down to a reasonable recipe, but you’re welcome to double, triple, or quadruple it. Although it’ll keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator, I had so much that tightly sealed the overload into freezer bags and placed them back in the congélateur. However next time I’m headed out of town, I’m going to make sure my freezer is tightly sealed, because I’d be a bummer to lose those.

Cranberry Chutney
Print Recipe
3 cups (750ml)
Feel free to use any type, or combination, of dried fruit. Dates, figs, raisins, apricots, candied ginger, dried cherries, cranberries, pineapples, or other favorites, work well. (Of course, there's no need to chop the raisins or dried cranberries or cherries, if using.) You could also include chopped candied orange or lemon peel in the mix. Any tart apple is fine to use, but if using Golden Delicious apples, make sure to chop them very fine (unless you like chunks of apples in your chutney) as they don't break down as other apples do. If using frozen cranberries, no need to thaw them in advance. Just add them frozen and cook as directed. An interesting addition is to cook the chutney with a very small branch of rosemary. It'll lend an herbaceous note to the chutney. Remove it after the chutney is cooked. Or a tipple of whiskey (or an anise-based spirit, such as pastis) added right before the end of cooking could also be nice.
12 ounces (340g) cranberries, fresh or frozen (if using frozen, no need to defrost before using)
1 cup (125g) diced dried fruit (see headnote)
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
2/3 cup firmly-packed (140g) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) orange juice
6 tablespoons (90ml) apple cider vinegar, plus more if desired
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground dried ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch red chile flakes
pinch salt
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large saucepan.
2. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the cranberries pop and begin to break down and release their juices, and the apple pieces are cooked through. Time will vary but it'll take about 10 minutes or so.
3. Remove from heat and when the chutney is cool enough, taste and add 1 (or 2) tablespoons additional vinegar, if desired.

Serving: Serve with turkey (at Thanksgiving or another holiday), or with poultry, pork, roasted vegetables, or even cheese.

Storage: Store in jars in the refrigerator until ready to use. The chutney should keep for at least a month. It can also be frozen for up to six months. If you wish to can it, you can find guidelines at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.



A tangy treat for the holidays...or anytime!

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  • tori
    November 18, 2019 4:32pm

    would you gift these?

    • Billy Kolber
      November 18, 2019 5:16pm

      to me! lol

    • Brenda Pawloski
      November 18, 2019 5:40pm

      I would love to give and receive this!

      • David
        December 1, 2019 1:42pm

        There’s a repeating advertisement on this article that keeps closing in the borders of the article. It prevents reading because it covers part of the text. Despite Xing out of a few times it returns. There were 2, I forget the first but the second one was Stop & Shop. If you hav any control over the ads, can you please make it go away? Thanks

        • December 1, 2019 2:04pm
          David Lebovitz

          I don’t see it but if you can let us know if you’re on a mobile or desktop, that would be great. I can send that info to the ad network so they can remove it. Thanks.

    • November 18, 2019 6:03pm
      David Lebovitz

      Sure! I have a bag ready for a French-American friend in Paris, who loves cranberries.

      • kpgallant
        November 18, 2019 6:10pm

        DAVID….Recently you posted a recipe from “The Vineyard Kitchen”…or perhaps I just found it while rolling through some of your older posts, for an “APPLE SPICE CAKE.” It sounds exactly like an Apple Cake that my dear French Great-Grandmother [who lived to be 100 incidentally] used to make and I want to make it for Thanksgiving…You said it required a 12 cup BUNDT Pan…and well, I have tube pans for Angel Food Cake but no Bundt Pan…soooo, I am ready to make another “Batterie de Cuisine” purchase…[enough to fill a storage unit now…] but I want to know…which would YOU recommend…a NON Stick BUNDT Pan or just a regular one??? In a Quandry here… LOL… Merci in Advance!!!

        • November 19, 2019 12:47am
          David Lebovitz

          I don’t know as I haven’t made that cake in a while but generally a tube pan can be used interchangeably with (or for) a bundt pan. More people seem to have bundt pan nowadays, so that’s what recipes often call for.

          • kpgallant
            November 19, 2019 5:41pm

            Merci David!! I have a 25% OFF coupon for Williams&Sonoma so perhaps I will splurge!!! Merci encore! KPGG

        • Lynn Marie
          November 19, 2019 2:16pm

          My very organized work colleague with two small children has a family checklist for leaving the house on weekend trips (which alone amazes me). They recently added “check refrigerator door is closed” just above “lock front door” after returning on a Sunday night to a similar scene. The kids are 4 and 6 .

      • Jennifer Robertson
        November 18, 2019 8:00pm

        Sorry – had to laugh! Think we’ve all been there!

    • Mary J.Danca
      November 19, 2019 2:38am

      I’m no David but I sure plan to! Everything he makes is fabulous and it is fun to pass it along and tell where it came from!

  • Margaret
    November 18, 2019 5:18pm

    I am living in Amiens, France this year and can’t find fresh (or frozen) cranberries here… Could I use only dried cranberries plus other dried fruits? I am planning a small Thanksgiving-like meal here :)

    • November 18, 2019 6:02pm
      David Lebovitz

      You can get frozen airelles (lingonberries) at Picard stores in France which are similar but not quite as tart as cranberries. I’d use those as you need the moisture of fresh or frozen fruit, which dried fruit doesn’t have.

      • Margaret
        November 18, 2019 6:54pm

        Un grand merci!

  • Sharon
    November 18, 2019 5:22pm

    Bourbon, David, great with cranberries, especially at Thanksgiving.

  • November 18, 2019 5:22pm

    My condolences. We had a similar experience when we returned home and found our 15 cubic foot CHEST freezer had crapped out while we were on vacation. And…it contained a whole (butchered) elk, and two turkeys. Oi!

  • Charlene V.
    November 18, 2019 5:30pm

    So sorry to hear of your freezer mishap! The freezer usually represents so much work in the kitchen, in addition to those saved bits and pieces.

    Do you remember Narsai David from the Bay Area? I’ve always made his cranberry chutney recipe. Very similar to yours above, but it includes a chopped onion, a chopped orange (including the peel) and 1/4 cup bourbon or scotch. Yours and his are great clean-out-the-pantry recipes. Yum!

  • November 18, 2019 5:30pm

    Oh, no, what an awful mess to come home to! I’d be so upset losing all the bits of buttercream, extra cake layers and frozen peaches I have in mine, not to mention meat. I like the addition of all the dried fruit in your cranberry sauce. I like to make a cranberry orange compote, and sometimes cranberry raspberry. All the leftover sauce is so good baked on top of a shortbread crust with a crumble topping for the best post-Thanksgiving dessert!

  • November 18, 2019 5:42pm

    I bet this would be good in a sandwich with turkey & brie. Or a tartine with fromage blanc and sliced ham.

    I have some cranberries in the freezer that I need to use up. so I’ll be making this come the weekend.

    Thanks, David!

  • Brenda Pawloski
    November 18, 2019 5:42pm

    Just in time for Thanksgiving! I had been making a cran/blueberry sauce for years, this will be on my table too. Also on top of a nice cup of whole milk yogurt.

    • Deborah
      November 18, 2019 8:21pm

      Brenda – would you consider sending your cranberry-blueberry sauce, or posting it here? I’ve never seen such a recipe and our entire family loves blueberries. The combination sounds wonderful

    • Bonnie
      November 19, 2019 2:04am

      I have swirled my leftover cranberry sauce into a muffin or quick bread batter before baking– your chutney would be great for that!

  • Hilary S Purcell
    November 18, 2019 5:53pm

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I am tired of my old cranberry sauce recipe and was looking for a new one. I will be making it today! : )

  • November 18, 2019 5:56pm

    Your anti-gaspillage attitude rings true with me. I love going back to all those little dibs and dabs and coming up with something that I would never had created otherwise…..and conversely, be able to recreate. It is a lifestyle!

  • Kate
    November 18, 2019 6:02pm

    Where do you find cranberries in Paris?! So far, nothing!!

    • Cee
      November 19, 2019 11:03am

      Monoprix has packs of fresh ones in the fruit section, end November/early December

      • November 22, 2019 2:30pm
        David Lebovitz

        One thing I’ve learned is that all Monoprixs are different. I was at the one once in the 15th (at Convention) and I saw Sharpies! Good you found one with cranberries : )

  • Nan Kramer
    November 18, 2019 6:06pm

    I’m heading back to Nebraska for family Thanksgiving. I only get 1 1/2 time allotted for me in the kitchen…4 sisters and you think I could make ahead, freeze, then put in my checked bag? It looks like a crowd pleaser for the whole weekend too :)

    • Sam
      November 26, 2019 3:51pm

      Though Cranberry sauce can be made in advance, it thickens quite a bit. So, you might need to warm it up before serving. Otherwise, it works – I have done it before.

  • Cynthia Gibson
    November 18, 2019 6:07pm

    hi David thanks for the recipe! I used your suggested source, My American Market, and bought my baking supplies, pecans ( for a Thanksgiving nut tart) and three cans of Ocean spray cranberry sauce. The latter is just a family thing!). And other misc. goodies for the pantry. I am in Uzès and cannot find fresh cranberries! Ugh! Ordering my Dinde tomorrow! will a Carrefour have cranberries perchance? Thanks, Mrs. G

    • November 18, 2019 7:42pm
      David Lebovitz

      I can’t say what’s available elsewhere but in Paris, you can sometimes find them at supermarkets and hypermarchés, as well as at some fruit stands. If you do find them in Uzès, let us know where so others who live there can stock up, too
      : )

  • Terry
    November 18, 2019 6:22pm

    I feel your pain! This has happened to me. Nothing worse than finding the partially frozen and the squishy!

  • Carol
    November 18, 2019 6:23pm

    David…be glad you don’t live in Bay Area anymore. PG&E cuts our power in the name of “wildfire prevention” any time the wind blows. 5 and 6 days with no power. Yep, have cleaned out the freezer twice this past month!

    • November 18, 2019 7:43pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes – the upside is you clean your freezer. I have so much room now! (Which I’m sure will get filled, again, soon…)

  • Steve Rosenberg
    November 18, 2019 6:28pm

    Leftover cranberry chutney made some of the best muffins ever!

  • Clark Taylor
    November 18, 2019 6:48pm

    I’m always looking for fresh cranberry sources here in Paris. Luckily, my primeur @ my local marché can pick them up for me @ Rungis. Wondered, tho, if you know others ?

    • November 19, 2019 12:46am
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t, but once I was at Simply Market in Paris (now Auchan) and a few days after Thanksgiving, they were selling baskets for €1 each (of course, I bought them all…) But usually places don’t discount them after Thanksgiving, which is kind of funny because after T-day, demand in Paris is (considerably) diminished.

  • Vrinda bhalla Berkeley
    November 18, 2019 6:55pm

    Same thing happened to me after 2 weeks in Scandinavia I returned to a dead freezer jam packed with food blueberries juice etc oozing on the garage floor!!!!
    Anyhow since you’re into dry fruit what can I do with old dates ? I have them in ball jars in pantry
    Hate to toss them in garbage can

  • MR in NJ
    November 18, 2019 7:22pm

    I am making this pronto to take for Thanksgiving and keep the rest! Excellent make-ahead and I can’t wait to use up the bits of dried fruit hanging about as well as a couple of bags of cranberries still in the freezer from last year. I need the space for cookies-to-be, too.

    My freezer, like yours and many of your readers’, is crammed with soup, baked goods, and other items representing countless hours of work and love (and dish washing). As I turn the key when leaving for days or longer I imagine my ancient freezer dying before I reach the airport.

    One time when I was not away I came downstairs in the morning to a Blue Sea on the floor that I realized represented thawed blueberries (broken freezer fan). Then there was the unforgettable nine-day blackout following Hurricane Sandy seven years ago…. Well, we all have our food-war stories.

    Thanks for this timely recipe even though its inspiration was less heartening than, say, an inspirational trip to the Algarve or something.

  • Georgeann Brown
    November 18, 2019 7:36pm

    I always duct tape my freezer door (in the garage) shut, just in case.

  • November 18, 2019 8:16pm

    Oh yes. My husband once worked for a cattle company and we bought their 1/4 or 1/2 sides of beef. Came home from a vacation and the freezer (in the garage) had quick working a day or two before. Although the ground beef had to go, the roasts and steaks were gifted to neighbors to be cooked that day or the next. You made a great “lemonade” out of those “lemons”.

  • Claire LS
    November 18, 2019 8:52pm

    We have 3 freezers in our home plus 2 fridges. We always turn the water off when we go away but have also learned to have someone check the freezers every 3-4 days because there is too much money and labour at stake to lose the contents. We have also put in a thermometer as once a friend was worried one of the freezers wasn’t cold enough and not wanting to risk anything, moved all of the contents into another freezer, which was very considerate but as it turned out, not necessary. Too much local produce to be enjoyed all winter to take a chance!

  • Elizabeth Van Pelt
    November 18, 2019 11:16pm

    That recipe looks delish! I have a couple of bags of cranberries, and just picked some tart apples, and everything else on hand – I think this will be perfect for Thanksgiving!

    I have something called a “Temp Stick” in each of my two upright freezers in the garage. It monitors the temperature and sends an alert to my phone at any temperature I choose. I’m not as concerned about the kitchen one, but the garage ones contain all my processed home-grown produce and homemade goodies. I have a lot of time and energy invested in the things in those freezers, which makes it worth the price I paid for the monitors.

  • Debbie Sundberg
    November 18, 2019 11:42pm

    Here is the south where power outages are somewhat common from storms, we have all learned to put a quarter on top of a frozen cup of water in our freezers. If you come home and see that the quarter has dropped at all, you know the power has gone out and come back on, so can determine what to throw away.

    Wouldn’t help with this situation, though!

  • Courtney
    November 19, 2019 12:41am

    Wow! I think you helped me figure out what to bring to Thanksgiving.

    I have some candied ginger I made and didn’t boil and toss the water enough that is just a hair too spicy. I may add some of that and live on the wild side. What do you think? Good idea?

    • November 19, 2019 12:44am
      David Lebovitz

      Candied ginger works really well in this – go for it!

  • Hilary Purcell
    November 19, 2019 2:44am

    This is DELISH! I made it today and which I had doubled the recipe so that I enough to give as gifts. I may make it again bc the recipe is super easy. Also, I might add some toasted pecans for added crunch! Thanks for posting David!!! Happy Turkey Day!

  • Christy
    November 19, 2019 2:53am

    I live in Napa County California. We have been power shut offs from PG&E in order to avoid more wildfire – although we still have had some terrible ones last month. My power was out 4 days last month and had to do the same thing with my freezer. I have gas so could cook on the stovetop – people at work we’re happy to have bacon and sausage and a big a cheesy egg scramble for breakfast. But heart breaking was my beautiful summer fruit so carefully prepped and individually frozen.

    I made a big batch of ‘blackout blackberry jam’ that was a challenge but turned out well – hard to see by the light of a camping lantern and a flashlight. Alas, the apricots were not so lucky.

    I do have some gravenstein apples from a farm in Sonoma that I think would be perfect in this chutney. Thanks for the idea!!

  • Zoe Simkin
    November 19, 2019 3:04am

    I live in NW Ontario in Ontario, Canada. We had a big chest sized freezer that was too big to get into our house so we put the freezer into a shed outside. I filled it with blueberry pies, bags of wild blueberries and much more. In autumn, black bears are fattening up for the winter. One lucky bear broke into our shed, unplugged our freezer and got busy eating about 150lbs of frozen food! I was surprised to see all these empty wrappers in our driveway in the morning and then shocked when I looked in the freezer and saw one bag of thawed brusselsprouts and a bag of rhubarb. Everything else was gone!!! We removed the freezer and replaced it with one that would fit in the house as bears have wonderful memories and I am sure this bear would remember his lucky haul!!

    • rita marlowe
      November 21, 2019 6:12am

      What a story! We only had a cow break into the grain bin, which was her undoing.

  • Be in Portland
    November 19, 2019 8:46am

    Oh, a freezer failure is too awful. Commiserations!

    A few years ago you alerted me to the wonders of quince and today I made a mammoth amount of quince and cranberry chutney, enough to carry us through several holidays and lots and lots of future curries. So thanks for not only your cranberry post today, but also for educating me about quince.

  • Lynne
    November 19, 2019 11:01pm

    David, I always use Ina Garten cranberry relish recipe, which is similar to this. This year, I’m going with yours! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Leslie Tobin Bacon
    November 21, 2019 11:00pm

    I would love to make this recipe with persimmons —- since I have a bucket full of them. Can I exchange them for the cranberries, or us half and half or??? Would appreciate your thoughts!

    • Leslie Tobin Bacon
      November 22, 2019 2:09am

      David, I realise that I might need to put your name there to have you answer my question re persimmons…..

    • November 22, 2019 2:27pm
      David Lebovitz

      Persimmons are quite different than cranberries and you wouldn’t get the same tang of the berries, nor their “jellied” quality, I imagine, but I haven’t tried using them. If you do, let us know how it turns out!

  • tim
    November 22, 2019 5:25am

    Just a FYI.. Ocean Spray is a cooperative . So go farmers.

    Also if you are in NYC area again.. get a tour of the cranberry bogs in southern NJ(maybe on a trip to Philly as well).

  • Katherine McCartney
    November 23, 2019 1:23pm

    I cannot find the words to adequately describe how good this tastes. Sweet, tangy, bursting with cranberry flavor and a slight chew due to the dried fruits. I added a splash of Herbsaint near the end – it rounded out the flavors perfectly. Served it with a cheeseboard (pairs beautifully with Brie) and homemade bread. Thanks for another solid recipe!

  • Erica V. (CooksinCT)
    November 23, 2019 8:11pm

    Just made it! Fantastic! Love everything cranberry, and this is exceptional. Since I was juicing an orange, I added its zest. Definitely will be added to every Thanksgiving and any other “game” dinner menus. Bravo!

  • MR in NJ
    November 25, 2019 4:22pm

    A week ago I wrote that I would make this and i did. I measured the cranberries left in the freezer and adjusted the remaining ingredients as 2.5 the amounts in the recipe. It felt great to use up four prunes, a small handful of dried apricots, and three little single-serving bags of freeze-dried pineapple that tasted “meh” and had been hanging around for ages but were perfect for this. For the liquid I used half orange-mango juice and half apricot brandy. When done it yielded a large jewel-like glass jar to take to Thanksgiving, a small jar to use myself (delish last night next to chicken parts cooked with apples, apple cider, and Calvados), and three half-pint plastic containers for the freezer. Over the serving bowl I sprinkled chopped pistachios and will take some separately to do the same at Thanksgiving. This timely recipe has clearly been appreciated by your readers and fans. And you got another story for a future book!

  • Amanda Beresford
    November 27, 2019 10:13pm

    This is fantastic! I added cassis which was lovely. I can’t stop eating it straight from the jar. I will never need another recipe for a cranberry condiment. Thank you!

  • Royleen White
    November 29, 2019 5:09am

    BEST CRANBERRY RECIPE I have ever made in over 50 years! So many lovely flavors… Thank you, David!

    • November 30, 2019 1:13pm
      David Lebovitz

      Happy you like it & glad you’ve found a new favorite cranberry sauce : )

  • Susie
    December 1, 2019 4:05pm

    This was a brilliant melange of flavors and a perfect way to clean out two bags of last year’s frozen cranberries and lots of hard dried fruit. I could spoon it right out of the jar it is so good. Thanks David for a very creative and delicious recipe.

  • Elizabeth
    December 1, 2019 5:01pm

    This is the cranberry chutney I’ve been looking for! Served at the big meal. Delicious. I used gochugaru which is all I had on hand. Next time something with a bit more punch. Small item for a terrific recipe. Thank you so much.

  • Virginia Luppescu
    December 1, 2019 5:14pm

    I too had many years worth of cranberries in my freezer. (If do not think anything happens to them).
    I also had dried cherries, dates and crystallized ginger in my pantry.
    So, I made the chutney the day you originally posted the recipe. It was fabulous then, and even better when I served it on Thanksgiving.
    The chutney has a permanent spot on my Thanksgiving roster.
    Thank you David!

  • Susan
    December 1, 2019 6:16pm

    I love my own cranberry sauce recipe, but this one looks fab! TG is over now, but we eat it well into winter, so I’m making a new batch with your yummy recipe. The candied ginger and chile flakes are brilliant, and I’m a wimp about spicy heat, so going to use Aleppo! I’m also going to use all honey instead of sugar, but I’ll add some molasses for that brown sugar depth. Thank you!

  • Diana Fox
    December 1, 2019 11:02pm

    In the week since this post I have made 30 jars of cranberry chutney. The first batch had a lot of fresh ginger. I also added the whiskey. It was a party in your mouth! The second batch I did not cook as long, and forgot the whiskey, it was tart and delicious. Thank you for the great recipe.

    • December 2, 2019 11:39am
      David Lebovitz

      Wow, you’ve made more jars than I have. Glad you liked it so much! It does tend to mellow a bit after it’s made, in a good way, and all the ingredients come together nicely.

  • December 3, 2019 11:04pm

    This was delicious and a huge hit at our Thanksgiving! I’m going to gift some too. Thank you for posting!

  • a
    December 8, 2019 12:26pm

    I had forgotten until reading this, but I once went away for a couple of weeks and unplugged the toaster oven in preparing the house for vacancy. I came back home and found that I had unplugged the fridge instead. The freezer part was particularly awful, and leaking down. Ugh.

  • Ellen N.
    December 18, 2019 1:32am

    I made this about three weeks ago. It is absolutely delicious.

    For the fruit, I used candied ginger, golden raisins and dried tart cherries.

    I’ve been eating it over sliced cheddar cheese on toast.

    I’m sorry that you lost so much food, but I sure appreciate the resulting recipe.