California Cumberland Sauce for the Holidays

Cumberland sauce

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Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Cumberland sauce is a wonderfully flavorful condiment for the turkey, ham, duck, and roast goose that are traditionally served around the holidays. It adds a special touch to your holiday gatherings without costing you a lot of precious time. It's simple to make and a compliment-generator. After the big feast, use it to dress up leftovers at a casual get-together or a family dinner.


  • 1 cup red currant jelly

  • 1/3 cup red wine, such as a California​ cabernet sauvignon

  • 1/2 cup orange juice

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

  • 1 pinch ground ginger

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Combine the currant jelly, wine, orange juice and zest, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar, mustard, cayenne and ginger in a medium-sized saucepan.

  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

  4. Once cooled, season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or reheat and serve hot, if desired.


  • For a holiday meal, choose the meat of your choice that goes well with this sauce. Cumberland sauce is traditionally served cold with cold meats, which means it would be more likely to be used in Britain, where it's ubiquitous, as part of a supper buffet after an earlier feast or in the following days with leftovers. But if you like to bend tradition, you can serve it with hot meat, but if you do, serve the Cumberland sauce cold.
  • Cumberland sauce adds a fruity element to the menu, so pick sides and wine with that in mind. An especially good wine choice would be the same one you use in the sauce, especially if it is table quality and not just wine for cooking.

History of Cumberland Sauce

Cumberland sauce was first mixed up in Hanover, Germany, in the 19th century. Britain's Duke of Cumberland at that time had ties to Hanover, and that's the link to the name, though the details are murky and lost. The sauce itself traces its history to the medieval cooking tradition of spicy but sweet sauces made sour with vinegar that was used on non-white meats, usually game. The idea was to civilize the gamy taste a bit with these strong flavors. Despite its being created in Hanover, Cumberland sauce is now iconically British and a must-have over the winter holidays there.