Homemade Cranberry Sauce

November 9, 2019

Once you try this fresh Cranberry Sauce recipe you’ll never want to buy it canned again! This is so much better and incredibly easy to make! It’s perfectly sweetened, lightly tart, and has a deliciously bright cranberry and orange flavor.

It’s truly the perfect accompaniment to roast turkey or roast chicken.

Cranberry Sauce in a serving bowl set over a wooden platter. Sauce garnished with fresh mint.

The Best Cranberry Sauce Recipe!

Is there anything like a delicious, made from scratch Thanksgiving or Christmas meal? Chances are most of us have settled for the stuff that comes out of a can or a box, and that’s just it, it’s settling.

If you’ve been one of those people that has been settling, I would highly recommend this year you give the homemade alternative to the pre-packaged and processed Thanksgiving foods a try. The two are a night and day difference.

Canned cranberry sauce and homemade cranberry sauce just don’t even compare.

One comes in the shape of a can while it’s homemade opponent has a spoonable texture and tastes like fresh fruit. And the homemade sauce isn’t jelly like, it’s perfectly sauce-like, the way it’s meant to be.

I look forward to this every year! Try it and you’ll never look back, trust me!

Ingredients needed to make cranberry sauce shown here.

What Ingredients go into Homemade Cranberry Sauce?

You’ll only need 4 ingredients (plus water):

  • Fresh cranberries – if you have some in the freezer those will work too, you can even start with frozen they’ll just need to simmer a little longer.
  • Oranges – only use fresh oranges here. Be sure to zest first before halving and juicing.
  • Granulated sugar – cranberries are super tart so the sugar is a must to sweeten it up. I sometimes juice raw cranberries and it’s a punch of tartness that’s hard to swallow. This is made to be enjoyable.
  • Light brown sugar – I like to use both types of sugar for that little bit of extra flavor you get from brown sugar, but use half white sugar so it’s not overpowering.

Adding cranberry sauce ingredients to a medium saucepan.

How to Make Fresh Cranberry Sauce:

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan: In a medium saucepan combine cranberries, water, orange zest, orange juice, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.
  • Boil then reduce to a simmer: Set over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Cook until cranberries burst: Allow mixture to simmer about 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have popped.
  • Let cool and thicken slightly: Allow mixture to cool about 20-30, the natural pectins in the cranberries will thicken up the sauce a bit as it cools.

Stages of cranberry sauce simmering on stovetop shown here.

Can I Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

Yes cranberry sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze in an airtight container (be sure to leave the 1/2-inch gap on top for expansion as it freezes), thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to use then rewarm if desired.

And of course it can also be refrigerated for a few days if you want to make it in advance before the holidays.

What Can I Make with Leftover Cranberry Sauce?

Here’s a few random ideas if you happen to have any left over cranberry sauce after the holiday:

  • spread over toast or pancakes
  • serve warm over chocolate or vanilla ice cream
  • spread on a turkey sandwich
  • make into a dressing or vinaigrette
  • spread over a cream cheese slathered bagel
  • add to a fruit smoothie
  • use it as a dip for chicken nuggets/sticks
  • serve with rotisserie chicken or pork chops
  • make a tangy barbecue sauce with it
  • add atop cheesecake
  • swirl into a chicken or turkey salad
  • layer cheese slices or cream cheese over crackers and spread with cranberry sauce
  • mix in breakfast oatmeal and top with sweetened whipped cream

Cranberry sauce spread over chicken.

More Delicious Thanksgiving Recipes You’ll Love:

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

5 from 4 votes

Once you try this fresh Cranberry Sauce recipe you'll never want to buy it canned again! It's so much better and incredibly easy to make! It's perfectly sweetened, lightly tart, and has a deliciously bright cranberry and orange flavor.

Servings: 10
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar


  1. In a medium saucepan combine cranberries, water, orange zest, orange juice, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. 

  2. Set over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat medium-low. 

  3. Let simmer about 10 - 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and sauce has reduced slightly.

  4. Allow mixture to cool about 20 - 30 minutes to thicken up slightly. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes

  • Frozen cranberries will work well here too.
  • Sauce can be frozen up to 3 months. Cool before freezing, leave 1/2-inch gap in container for expansion. Thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to use.
  • If you don't have any brown sugar all white sugar can be used.
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 101
% Daily Value*
Sodium 4mg0%
Potassium 68mg2%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 23g26%
Vitamin A 45IU1%
Vitamin C 11mg13%
Calcium 13mg1%
Iron 0.2mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cranberry Sauce
Author: Jaclyn
Recipe originally shared November 2012, photos have been updated.

Leave a Comment

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  • Suzon

    Hello !

    I just found your recipe and I was wondering if you use fresh cranberries for it ? Can we use frozen one or even dried ones ? I live in France and I’m not sure to find fresh cranberries…

    Thanks for publishing such inspiring recipes !


  • Christina

    Made this for Thanksgiving, and all of us who ate it thought it was very good! My family has always had the can stuff and I’ve never had any desire to try it. When I saw your recipe here I knew I had to try it.

  • Jessica Moree

    This was fantastic– thank you! Definitely a hit at our Thanksgiving meal!

  • Celia Cordes

    Is there a way to click on a recipe and have it format for printing? I have seen several recipes that I want to print but I have to tell my computer to print only a select page. This is probably “operator error” so any advice for printing recipes would be so helpful. Thanks….I love your blog!

    • Jaclyn

      Hi Celia – thanks for your nice compliment =)! Sorry about the printing, I know I desperately need a better print option on my blog =). I’m currently have me site redesigned and it will have a print button as well as a save button. For now the best way is just to highlight the recipe then right click and print the selection (if it gives you the option) or copy and paste it to word. Sorry it’s such a hassle. It’s annoying for me even! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and I hope you enjoy the recipes you find here!

  • Ronja @ a dash of faith

    I love the idea of spreading cranberry sauce on a bagel with cream cheese! I can’t believe I haven’t thought of that, it sounds so delicious.

  • Melissa

    PS – you don’t have to publish this comment, BUT have you ever thought about adding the little “search this site” tool thingy in blogger? I’d love it if you do. Like today I want to make your Navajo Tacos but it takes a while to search through your index. I’ve wanted to do this before with other things on your blog. Just a thought! I think people would use it, I know I would!

    • Jaclyn

      haha whoops, that’s sad, I thought I had one on here =). I’m actually in the middle of having someone do an entire blog redesign for me and I’m switching over to wordpress. The very first thing on the top along with the toolbar will be a search box because you are right they are very important. Thanks so much for your comments!

    • Anonymous

      Until you get a search bar up and running, a handy trick is to use Google, with a site-specific instruction. Searching “Navajo tacos site:cookingclassy.blogspot.com/” (without quotes) limits the Google search to only this website and gives you all four pages that mention Navajo tacos.

  • Melissa

    Mmmm. I love this. This is JUST how I make mine! There is something magical about that orange juice isn’t there? Gorgeous photo as always!

    • Jaclyn

      Thanks Melissa! Yes I love the oj in it =). I love how easy it is too. I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving and I hope you’re loving blogging!

  • sally @ sallys baking addiction

    Jaclyn, not only do I love love love cranberry sauce but I LOVE your serving suggestions! esp the one layering it on top of CC and a bagel. I want one of those right now, pleeeease.