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Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Bid farewell to the canned stuff—once you’ve tasted this easy homemade cranberry sauce, there’s no turning back! Bursting with the perfect blend of tangy and sweet, this cranberry sauce is the crowning glory of any holiday feast.

easy homemade cranberry sauce in a bowl next to turkey and peas on a white plate

Welcome to the holiday season, where the humble cranberry takes center stage! Say goodbye to the canned stuff; it’s time to whip up the best cranberry sauce recipe using fresh cranberries and simple ingredients. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned pro, this easy recipe is about to become an essential part of your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

As we swap store-bought jelly for a homemade cranberry sauce recipe that bursts with natural flavors, let’s explore how a medium saucepan, a little sugar, and some love can elevate your holiday meal. Perfect for slathering over leftover turkey sandwiches or pairing with sweet potato casserole, this sauce is a holiday classic, a perfect complement to every dish on your Thanksgiving table.

Get ready to simmer whole cranberries to the perfect cranberry sauce, and remember, the best part comes after the sauce cools – that’s when you really taste the depth of flavor. So, let’s ditch the can and embrace the real deal of homemade cranberry sauce this holiday season!

cranberry sauce after it is prepared.

Ingredients for Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries: Choose fresh for that pop of tartness or frozen for convenience—either way, you’re in for a treat.

Sweetness: Go classic with white sugar, cozy with brown, or naturally sweet with maple syrup. Remember, cranberries need a buddy to balance their tartness!

Citrus Twist: A splash of fresh orange juice and a bit of zest bring a delightful orange flavor.

Cinnamon: A whole cinnamon stick infuses the sauce with warm, spiced undertones.

Cranberries, cinnamon sticks and orange slices on a white plate

Supplies For Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  • A trusty saucepan for simmering
  • Juicer and zester for that fresh citrus kick
  • A spoon for stirring up the magic

Crafting Your Cranberry Delight

  1. Simmer: In your saucepan, let cranberries, sweetener of choice, water, orange zest, and a pinch of salt mingle over medium-low heat. Stir away to keep the syrup from getting too clingy.
  2. Thicken: Turn down the heat, and let the cranberries do their dance until they burst open, and the sauce clings lovingly to your spoon. That’s about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Perfect It: Give it a taste. A little more salt, perhaps?
  4. Cool Down: Off the heat, let it chill out to room temp for that just-right consistency.

Pro Tips for Your Cranberry Sauce

  • Jellied or Chunky: Want it smooth? Cook a little longer. Prefer it with a bite? Add some whole berries towards the end.
  • Cooling Time: Patience is key. Let it cool before serving to let that sauce really come together.
  • Orange Boost: Fancy more orange oomph? A splash of orange liqueur will do the trick.

Storing Your Homemade Masterpiece

Good things should last! Allow sauce to come to room temperature then place In a jar with a snug lid, your cranberry sauce will chill perfectly in the fridge for up to 5 days. Giving you the perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish!

Go on, give this recipe a whirl, and bring a homemade touch to your holiday table that’ll have everyone talking. Don’t forget to snap a picture of your cranberry creation and share it with us! We can’t wait to see your saucy success.

What to Eat with Cranberry Sauce:

Roast Turkey or Chicken: A classic pairing with a holiday turkey or chicken for a reason.

Pork: Try it with pork chops or roast pork for a sweet and savory mix.

Sandwiches and Wraps: Adds a tangy twist to chicken or turkey sandwiches.

Cheese Boards: Complements cheeses like Brie, Camembert, and sharp Cheddar.

Yogurt or Oatmeal: For a sweet and tart breakfast addition.

Baked Goods: Great as a filling or topping for muffins, cakes, and pastries.

How to Make Cranberry Sauce Thicker:

Simmer it longer: Allowing the sauce to cook down more can naturally thicken it.

Use a thickening agent: A cornstarch slurry or a little arrowroot powder can help.

Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce:

Yes, cranberry sauce freezes well. Store it in an airtight container, and it can last up to 2-3 months in the freezer in a freezer bag or container with a tight fitting lid. Meaning if you make a double batch at Thanksgiving you can be ready for Christmas!

How to Tell if a Cranberry is Ripe:

Ripe cranberries are firm to the touch and deep red in color. They should bounce if dropped (hence the nickname “bounceberries”).

fresh cranberries

How Long Does Cranberry Sauce Last in the Fridge:

Homemade cranberry sauce typically lasts about 10-14 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container.

How to Make Cranberry Sauce with Dried Cranberries:

Rehydrate dried cranberries in orange juice or water until they plump up.

Proceed with your recipe as usual, reducing added sugars since dried cranberries are often sweetened.

How to Make Cranberry Sauce Less Bitter:

Add more sweetener: More sugar or a sweetener like honey or maple syrup can balance bitterness.

Include an extra ingredient: A splash of orange juice, a bit of apple sauce, or a dash of cinnamon can counteract bitterness and add complexity to the flavor.

Remember, the key to a great cranberry sauce is balancing the naturally tart flavor of the cranberries with the right amount of sweetness and spice to suit your taste.

How to Make Cranberry Sauce Less Sweet:

If you find your cranberry sauce too sweet, there are a few adjustments you can make to balance the flavors:

  1. Reduce the Sugar: Start by using less sugar than the recipe calls for. You can always add more later if needed.
  2. Add a Tart Component: Increase the amount of cranberries in proportion to the sugar, or add a squeeze of lemon juice. The tartness of these ingredients can help balance out the sweetness.
  3. Incorporate Bitter or Savory Elements: Adding a bit of orange zest, a splash of cranberry juice (the unsweetened, tart kind), or even a pinch of salt can counteract excessive sweetness.
  4. Use a Less Sweet Sugar Substitute: If you haven’t already cooked the sauce, consider using a sugar substitute that is less sweet than regular sugar, such as a sugar-alcohol like erythritol.
  5. Dilute with Water or Unsweetened Liquid: If the sauce is already made, you can try diluting it with a little bit of water or unsweetened cranberry juice. Just be aware that this might thin the sauce’s consistency.
  6. Add More Cranberries: If the sauce is still cooking and you find it too sweet, add more fresh cranberries and simmer until they pop and blend into the sauce.

Why Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce has several advantages over the store-bought stuff, making it a preferred choice for many. Here are the key reasons why homemade is often considered better:

  1. Customizable Flavor: When you make cranberry sauce at home, you have complete control over the flavor. You can adjust the amount of sugar, add unique ingredients like orange zest, cinnamon, or vanilla, and balance the tartness and sweetness to your liking.
  2. Freshness: The taste of fresh cranberries is more vibrant and robust than what you find in canned sauces, which can sometimes have a muted or overly processed flavor.
  3. Texture: Homemade cranberry sauce usually has a more pleasing texture. You can choose to have whole cranberries in your sauce, which offer a burst of flavor and a more interesting mouthfeel. As opposed to the often overly smooth texture of canned sauce.
  4. Healthier: Making your own sauce allows you to control the ingredients. Meaning you can reduce the sugar content or make substitutions for a healthier version, such as using honey or maple syrup instead of refined sugar.
  5. Versatility: You can tweak the recipe to pair perfectly with the other dishes you’re serving, ensuring that the flavors of your meal are complementary.
  6. No Tinny Taste: Some people find that canned cranberry sauce has a slight metallic taste from the can.
  7. Economical: Making cranberry sauce at home can be more cost-effective. Especially if you’re preparing a large quantity for a big gathering.
  8. Reduced Waste: Homemade cranberry sauce reduces packaging waste, making it a more environmentally friendly option.

And there you have it — a fabulous recipe for homemade cranberry sauce that’s sure to become a new favorite at your dinner table. Gone are the days of relying on canned versions; this easy-to-make, flavorful sauce not only brings a personal touch to your meals but also offers a delightful burst of freshness that can’t be beaten.

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe with Orange
Yield: 2 Jars

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe with Orange

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Bid farewell to the canned stuff—once you've tasted this easy homemade cranberry sauce, there's no turning back! Bursting with the perfect blend of tangy and sweet, this cranberry sauce is the crowning glory of any holiday feast


  • 3/4-1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed for the best flavor)
  • 1 12-ounce bag (about 3 cups) of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Zest of one orange
  • Optional: a cinnamon stick


Prepare the Cranberries:

  1. If using fresh cranberries, rinse them under cold water and pick out any stems or blemished berries. If using frozen cranberries, there’s no need to thaw them.
    Zest the Orange:
  2. Using a zester or a small grater, zest the orange. Be sure to only zest the orange part of the skin, as the white pith underneath is quite bitter.
    Simmer the Sugar and Juice:
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and orange juice. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
  4. Add Cranberries and Orange Zest:
  5. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the cranberries and orange zest to the saucepan. If you’re using a cinnamon stick, add it now.

    Cook the Cranberries:
  1. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The cranberries will soon start to pop open.
  2. Thicken the Sauce: Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce reaches your desired thickness. Remember, the sauce will thicken more as it cools.
  3. Adjust Flavor: Taste your cranberry sauce. If it's too tart, you can add a bit more sugar. If it's too sweet, a little more orange juice or a squeeze of lemon juice can balance it out.
    Cool and Serve:
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. If you used a cinnamon stick, remove it before serving. The sauce can be served at room temperature or chilled.
  5. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
    This cranberry sauce is a beautiful balance of tart and sweet, with a delightful citrus note from the orange. It's the perfect complement to your holiday meals and a great way to add a homemade touch. Enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 77Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g

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