Festive Cumberland Sauce

Cumberland sauce is, to me, a cross between what Americans know as a fruit compote and a fruit chutney. Mustard and shallots add savory elements to the sauce, plus I added cranberries to a traditional Cumberland sauce for the festive aspect! Cause I’m all about festiveness.

Cumberland sauce supposedly originated from Cumbria, in England, which also happens to be the home of sticky toffee pudding! If you’ve never been, it’s worth a visit, and definitely for more than the food.

You can purchase Cumberland sauce, this one sold by Harvey Nichols, (or Harvey Nic’s if you’re and Ab Fab fan!), but home-made is always best.

I included verjus in this recipe. It was the first time I’d opened the bottle. Really good stuff! I had to stop myself from sipping it. (It’s not alcoholic.)

Festive Cumberland Sauce
printable recipe below

1 lemon
2 oranges
2 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
1 teaspoon English mustard
3 ounces ruby port
8 ounces fresh, sorted cranberries
1/2 cup red currant jelly
1 tablespoon verjus

Zest the lemon and oranges and add the zest to a medium-sized saucepan of water that is boiling. Lower the heat to a simmer and remove from the heat after 5 minutes. Pour into a fine sieve and set the zest aside.

Return the saucepan to the stove. Squeeze the oranges and place juice in the saucepan, along with the shallots, mustard, port, and cranberries.

Gently bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the cranberries have burst.

After about 10-15 minutes, stir in the jelly, zest, and verjus.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

It’s truly a sauce, not thick like a compote or chutney, so I put it in a gravy boat.

This sauce is marvelous. You can taste all of the sweet, tart, and savory elements. It was definitely good with turkey, and I can’t wait to serve it with gammon.

note: I’ve seen Cumberland sauce with a demi-glace component, which sounds lovely. Also, one option is to prepare the sauce in a skillet where meat had been seared.


By Published On: October 23rd, 202034 Comments on Festive Cumberland Sauce

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. angiesrecipes October 23, 2020 at 7:04 AM - Reply

    Definitely a must have sauce during the holiday season. And I love PORT!

    • chef mimi October 23, 2020 at 8:05 AM - Reply

      It works so well in sauces like this! I love all of the holiday sauces, but I’m the only one who eats them!!!

  2. sherry October 23, 2020 at 7:08 AM - Reply

    yes indeed cranberries are so festive. we only get them frozen here and that’s only if we’re lucky. they’re hard to find except at christmas for a short time. and not always then.

    • chef mimi October 23, 2020 at 7:11 AM - Reply

      Oh that’s interesting. Things really are different south of the equator, aren’t they. Except there are things like lamb that you can get. And wattleseed!

  3. Jovina Coughlin October 23, 2020 at 9:22 AM - Reply

    Delicious fruit sauce that can comoliment many foods.

    • chef mimi October 23, 2020 at 2:45 PM - Reply

      It would actually be good with some soft cheeses!

  4. David Scott Allen October 23, 2020 at 10:23 AM - Reply

    Your jewel-toned sauce is beautiful and I imagine it tastes as good as it looks! I look forward to the return of cranberries in the markets… this will make for a lovely Thanksgiving sauce.

    • chef mimi October 23, 2020 at 11:59 AM - Reply

      I was surprised when I spotted them. It seems early, but I’ve already purchased another bag!

  5. cookingwithshy October 23, 2020 at 11:42 AM - Reply

    Delicious and wonderful fruit sauce…would be great with a roast!

    • chef mimi October 23, 2020 at 11:58 AM - Reply

      Any kind, really! I agree!

  6. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats October 23, 2020 at 12:07 PM - Reply

    One of my favorites. Cranberries and citrus pair so well together.

    • chef mimi October 23, 2020 at 2:45 PM - Reply

      It really is nice. I don’t usually add zest to mine cranberry sauces.

  7. Laura October 23, 2020 at 1:44 PM - Reply

    Mimi – this sounds like such an elevated cranberries sauce it should be a “must” on the Thanksgiving table! Thanks for the recipe – it’ll definitely be on my Thanksgiving table!

    • chef mimi October 23, 2020 at 2:44 PM - Reply

      You’re so welcome. I bit different for me, with the citrus peel.

  8. Tandy | Lavender and Lime October 24, 2020 at 12:04 AM - Reply

    Home made is always best. We spent a week in Cumbria a few years ago and it was amazing. I would go back for sure.

    • chef mimi October 24, 2020 at 6:33 AM - Reply

      Oh, it’s beautiful. We toured Brantwood estate on the lake. Outstanding. And so many walks…

  9. 2pots2cook October 24, 2020 at 11:16 AM - Reply

    Absolutely keeping for Christmas lunch ! Thank you !

    • chef mimi October 24, 2020 at 11:30 AM - Reply

      That will be perfect!

  10. Frank Fariello October 25, 2020 at 7:18 AM - Reply

    Lovely sauce from a lovely place! The English countryside really is ravishingly beautiful.

    Tell us more about the taste of verjuice I’ve seen it mentioned in recipes so any time (Medieval ones in particular) but I’ve never tried it. Didn’t think it actually existed any more. And I’m curious to know what it’s like.

    • chef mimi October 25, 2020 at 7:21 AM - Reply

      Slightly acidic, sort of a white grape and apple flavor. It surprised me. Not a vinegar, and not sweet, so I used it as an acidic component. Now I want to go taste it again. My daughter lived in London for four years, so we visited often and traveled all around England and the UK. Ravishingly beautiful is an understatement, but well said! It truly is.

  11. thatskinnychickcanbake October 25, 2020 at 4:05 PM - Reply

    Sounds like a delicious addition to our Thanksgiving dinner menu!!!

    • chef mimi October 25, 2020 at 4:42 PM - Reply

      Thanks, it’s a bit different than the varieties of cranberry sauce and chutneys I make!

  12. Ron October 26, 2020 at 6:19 AM - Reply

    Mimi, I haven’t had Cumberland sauce for ages. What a great idea to pop in cranberries. We don’t see cranberries here, but fresh lingonberries are at the market just now. I’ll be making up a batch of your sauce using lingonberries to have over the holidays.

    • chef mimi October 26, 2020 at 6:45 AM - Reply

      I’ve only had canned lingonberries. I wish I could taste them! We were too early to try huckleberries fresh in Montana, but we bought some huckleberry-infused vodka! Really a nice taste. So many elusive berries around the world!

  13. neil@neilshealthymeals.com October 26, 2020 at 7:20 AM - Reply

    As I usually devour several jars of cranberry sauce here at this time of year (I’m already on jar 2!) this festive cumberland sauce would make a great change from shop bought. Many thanks Mimi! Great pics of Cumberland too. You’ve reminded me how desperate we are here to be allowed out again!

    • chef mimi October 26, 2020 at 7:36 AM - Reply

      Such a beautiful part of England, but there are so many beautiful parts! This sauce was very good, and I believe home-made is best, but since I’m the only condiment-obsessed person here, sometimes I had just relented and bought a jar. Mrs. Bridges has a good ploughman’s chutney.

  14. David @ Spiced October 27, 2020 at 6:25 AM - Reply

    This sounds like a fantastic – and easy – recipe, Mimi! I’m not familiar with verjus..I’ll have to look more into that one. Nevertheless, this sauce on a Thanksgiving table would be perfect!

    • chef mimi October 27, 2020 at 7:21 AM - Reply

      You could just substitute with a good vinegar, or lemon juice. I just wanted to use it! It’s a good sauce – a bit different than your standard cranberry sauces!

  15. shannon October 27, 2020 at 2:44 PM - Reply

    Well now you’ve inspired me to try Cumberand Sauce, and visit Cumbria! Seriously Mimi, this sauce sounds divine, can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before. What a perfect recipe as we enter the holiday season, this will certainly make it to my Thanksgiving table!

    • chef mimi October 27, 2020 at 3:41 PM - Reply

      I hope you get to England. I had seen France growing up, and with my family traveled to other countries like Italy, Switzerland… but never thought about going to England until my daughter moved to London. And are we glad she did. Now we’ve seen Scotland, Wales, Ireland, as well as parts of England. You can’t compare the beauty of the Lakes District of England, with Alto Adige in northern Italy, or Provence in France. They’re all so different. but there’s just something about the English countryside.

  16. Molly Pisula October 28, 2020 at 12:35 PM - Reply

    This looks so good, Mimi! And I’m not a cranberry sauce fan. But the port in there and the savory notes with the mustard make this really appealing to me. Saving to make for a holiday table someday!

    • chef mimi October 28, 2020 at 4:43 PM - Reply

      Thanks Molly. I had to freeze most of it, which should be fine. But I can’t wait to thaw it out during the holidays and enjoy it then!

  17. cynthiawoodman November 1, 2020 at 3:56 PM - Reply

    I haven’t had cumberland sauce since I lived in England! I love the sweet/tangy combination with savory dishes. I need to try this!

    • chef mimi November 1, 2020 at 4:48 PM - Reply

      I thought it was excellent, but I’ve never had the traditional recipe.

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