Homemade Cranberry Sauce (make this today!)

Cranberry Sauce is so incredibly easy to make at home (with just 4 ingredients) and the taste is so much better than canned or jarred.

Did you know cranberry sauce can be made a couple of months ahead of time and frozen? Simply thaw and serve on the big day!

A bowl of fresh cranberry sauce topped with rosemary and a silver spoon.

Homemade is Best

A traditional cranberry sauce recipe is both sweet and tart. We serve it at both Thanksgiving and Christmas (and sometimes Easter), it’s great with roast turkey, chicken, goose, and Cornish game hens, and even ham.

  • It’s super easy to make.
  • Almost no prep is needed.
  • Can be made as a whole berry sauce or smooth.
  • Can be made a month ahead and frozen.

Once you make your own cranberry sauce, I almost guarantee you’ll never buy canned again (unless you’re using it to make cocktail meatballs).

A white bowl of cranberry orange sauce with fresh rosemary.

Ingredients

Cranberries are the star of this recipe and you can use fresh or frozen. If using frozen there is no need to thaw first. We love to throw a cinnamon stick in the mix, if you don’t have one, add a small pinch of ground cinnamon or even apple pie spice!

Sugar balances out the tart flavor of this sauce. We use white sugar but brown sugar works too!

Water or orange juice is needed to help cook the cranberries. Even apple juice works. Water will give a more traditional flavor while orange juice will add some extra zest.

Yummy Variations

  • We use orange juice but use your favorite juice from pineapple to apple.
  • Stir in some lemon or orange zest for some extra flavor.
  • Play with the spices and add a pinch of nutmeg, or allspice to bring
  • Substitute a tablespoon or so of the o.j. with something boozy, a splash of Grand Marnier, a dash of rum, or a bit of brandy.
  • Skip the sugar and use maple syrup or honey for sweetness.

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

It’s so easy. Place cranberries, sugar, and water/orange juice in a pot with a cinnamon stick.

Bring to a simmer (you’ll hear the cranberries start to pop) and stir. Simmer about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.

Easy right?!

A pot full of ingredients for fresh cranberry sauce with orange juice.

Recipe Notes

  • Water produces a more traditional flavor while orange juice makes it zestier.
  • This cranberry sauce recipe will thicken as it cools.
  • If you’d like a smooth sauce, place the warm mixture into a mesh strainer and strain it into a bowl. Press the cranberries with a spoon to remove as much juice as possible.

Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

Absolutely! In fact, stock up on cranberries when they show up at your local supermarket because they have multiple uses all year round from Sour Cream Cranberry Bars to Cranberry Trifle or even toss them into smoothies.

When selecting cranberries, buy 1 or 2 pound packages that have full, unbroken berries that are bright pink or red in color. Fresh cranberries will last up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator and they can be frozen up to a year as long as they are sealed in an airtight bag.

A saucepan full of homemade cranberry sauce and a cinnamon stick.

Got Leftover Cranberry Sauce?

Leftover cranberry sauce is perfect to top ice cream, cheesecake or sponge cake. It’s great on with leftover turkey on sandwiches or layer it into Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal or on top of french toast or homemade waffles or pancakes.  The possibilities are endless!

More Turkey Dinner Sides You’ll Love

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Nothing says ‘holidays’ more than the tangy flavor of a full-bodied homemade cranberry sauce.


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  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.

  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes uncovered. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.

  • Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until chilled.

Make this sauce weeks (or months) ahead of time and freeze. Simply thaw overnight and serve for the big day!
Water produces a more traditional flavor while orange juice makes it zestier.
The cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
If you’d like a smooth sauce, place the warm sauce into a mesh strainer and strain it into a bowl pressing the cranberries to remove as much juice as possible. Another option is to blend with a hand blender.

Calories: 131, Carbohydrates: 33g, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 98mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 29g, Vitamin A: 90IU, Vitamin C: 21.1mg, Calcium: 11mg, Iron: 0.2mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Course Side Dish

Cuisine American

cranberry sauce in pot with writing

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