Sauces / Dips / Dressings

Cranberry Butter

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Cranberry butter is a delightful and versatile condiment that combines butter’s rich creaminess with cranberries’ tart sweetness.

Slices of cranberry butter on a wooden board.Pin
Cranberry Butter

It is made by blending softened butter with dried or fresh cranberries and other complementary ingredients for added flavor. This compound butter can be used as a spread for bread, a topping for grilled meats or vegetables, or an ingredient in various recipes.

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Comparison of cranberry butter

Wait a minute; there are two distinctly different recipes for cranberry butter? Yes, indeed, there are.

Cranberry butter and cranberry compound butter are delicious condiments that incorporate cranberries. However, they differ in terms of their texture, ingredients, recipes, and usage. Here’s a comparison between the two:

  1. Texture:
    • Cranberry Butter: Cranberry butter has a smooth and creamy texture, similar to fruit preserves or fruit butter, such as apple butter. It is made by cooking and pureeing cranberries into a spreadable consistency.
    • Whipped Cranberry Butter: This compound butter has a solid or semi-solid texture, similar to regular butter. It is made by mixing cranberries and other ingredients with softened butter, then refrigerating or freezing it to solidify.
  2. Ingredients:
    • Cranberry Butter: The main ingredients for cranberry butter spread are cranberries, sugar, and often some spices or flavorings. It may also include apple juice, orange juice, or water to aid in cooking the cranberries and achieving the desired consistency.
    • Cranberry Compound Butter: Besides cranberries, cranberry compound butter incorporates softened butter as its primary ingredient. Add sugar, spices, herbs, or even citrus zest for enhanced flavor.
  3. Usage:
    • Cranberry Butter: Use it as a sweet and tangy spread for bread, toast, scones, muffins, or other baked goods. You can use it as a filling or topping for cakes, cookies, or ice cream.
    • Cranberry Compound Butter: Use this butter as a flavored butter for savory dishes. Melt it over grilled or roasted meats, steamed vegetables, or cooked pasta to add cranberry flavor. It is also delicious to spread on bread or rolls.
  4. Versatility:
    • Cranberry Butter: Use cranberry butter as a sweet condiment or dessert topping due to its fruity and sweet flavor. It pairs well with breakfast items, baked goods, and desserts.
    • Cranberry Compound Butter: This butter offers more versatility. Use it in both sweet and savory recipes. Its buttery texture and cranberry flavor make it suitable for enhancing the taste of various dishes.

Cranberry compound butter is a delightful and versatile condiment that combines butter’s rich creaminess with cranberries’ tart sweetness. It is made by blending soft butter with dried or fresh cranberries and other complementary ingredients for added flavor. Use it as a spread for bread, a topping for grilled meats or vegetables, or an ingredient in baking recipes.

What you need

  • Cranberries – fresh or frozen cranberries will both work beautifully. Buy an extra bag around the winter holidays and freeze them so you can use them all year.
  • Butter – Use either salted or unsalted butter. If you use unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt.
  • Orange juice and zest: The juice from half of a large orange.
  • Powdered sugar: You can eliminate the sugar if you’d like, but the butter will be quite tart. You could substitute maple sugar, maple syrup, or honey for a natural alternative to processed sugar.

How to make it

Step One

Soften butter to room temperature.

Add the berries to a food processor or blender container.

Cranberries in a food processor bowl.Pin
Add berries to a food processor bowl.

Step Two

Run it until they are finely chopped. Grate in some orange zest.

Grating orange zest into bowl.Pin
Grate in orange zest.

Step Three

Add the softened butter and sugar, if using, and puree. Whip butter until the whole mixture is fairly uniform.

Butter and zest added to the container.Pin
Add the softened butter.

Step Four

Add butter to a clean, sterilized, yet cool canning jar.

Flavored butter in a jar.Pin
Butter in a mason jar.

Step Five

Or wrap it into a log with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Slice it into pats for serving.

Flavored butter wrapped into a log shape in waxed paper.Pin
Log of butter wrapped in waxed paper.

Fun variations

  • Add fresh herbs, such as; chopped sage, parsley, thyme, or basil.
  • Grate lemon, orange, or lime zest into the butter instead of the orange zest.
  • Add a bit of sugar for sweetness.
  • Incorporate cinnamon or nutmeg for sweet dishes or garlic or onion powder for savory dishes.
  • Add chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds.
  • Add a pinch of kosher salt if desired.
Sliced log of cranberry butter on wooden board.Pin

How to use the butter

Use cranberry compound butter in many ways to enhance your dishes’ flavors. You can really use it anywhere you would use butter. Here are some suggestions on how to use it:

  1. Bread and Toast: Spread it onto freshly baked bread or toast for a sweet and tangy twist on your breakfast or afternoon snack.
  2. Grilled Meats: Place a slice or two of it on top of hot grilled foods such as steak, chicken, or pork chops. Allow the butter to melt over the meat, creating a flavorful glaze and adding a touch of sweetness.
  3. Roasted Vegetables: Toss cooked roasted vegetables, like Brussels sprouts or butternut squash, with a small amount of butter. It will coat the vegetables, adding a tangy and rich element to their natural flavors.
  4. Mashed Potatoes: Mix a spoonful of cranberry compound butter into creamy mashed potatoes. It will lend a hint of cranberry sweetness, complementing the savory potatoes and creating a delightful side dish.
  5. Pancakes and Waffles: Serve it alongside your stack of pancakes or waffles. Allow the butter to melt over the warm breakfast treats, providing a flavor that pairs beautifully with maple syrup.
  6. Baked Goods: Incorporate it into your baked goods recipes. Add a dollop to a muffin or cake batter for a hint of cranberry flavor, or spread it on warm scones, muffins, toast, or biscuits.
  7. Sauteed Fruits: Melt a small amount of it in a skillet and sauté sliced fruits like apples or pears until they are caramelized and tender. The butter will add a lovely cranberry essence to the fruits.
  8. Eggs: Add the butter to your pan when frying or scrambling eggs for a unique brightness.
  9. Holiday Recipes: It is particularly fitting for holiday meals. Use it to garnish your Thanksgiving turkey, spread it on dinner rolls for festive dinners, or incorporate it into your Christmas roast recipes for seasonal flavor.
  10. Sandwiches: Spread softened butter on a grilled cheese sandwich before grilling. Use a sharp cheddar for flavor and a mild cheddar for easy melting.

Get creative and experiment with alternate uses for your favorite dishes. Its versatility and unique flavor make it a delightful addition to sweet and savory recipes.

How to store it

Store it in the refrigerator for about a week, or freeze it for longer storage.

More cranberry recipes

Helpful tools

Scooping the cranberry butter out of the jar with a butter knife.Pin
Cranberry Compound Butter

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Sliced cranberry butter on a wooden cutting board.Pin

Cranberry Butter

Cranberry compound butter is a delightful and versatile condiment that combines the rich creaminess of butter with the tart sweetness of cranberries.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 8 tablespoons
Calories: 213kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $6


  • ½ pound unsalted butter
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • orange zest


  • Soften the butter to room temperature.
    ½ pound unsalted butter
  • Place cranberries in a food processor or blender container.
    ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Process until fine.
  • Add the butter, juice and zest. Process until a fairly smooth product is achieved.
    ½ cup orange juice, orange zest
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Serving: 0.5tablespoons | Calories: 213kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 743IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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Originally published May 16, 2023.

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