Homemade Cranberry Sauce

November 9, 2019  ·  Published November 15, 2012

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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.

POSSIBLE VARIATIONS:

  • Simmer with a cinnamon stick and/or add a few pinches of ground nutmeg and cloves.
  • Substitute water with an unsweetened cranberry juice or a cranberry juice blend.
  • Add 1/2 tsp vanilla.
  • Mix in chopped pecans after cooling.

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:

Cranberry Sauce in a serving bowl set over a wooden platter. Sauce garnished with fresh mint.
5 from 9 votes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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
Prep5 minutes
Cook15 minutes
Ready in: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan combine cranberries, water, orange zest, orange juice, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. 
  • Set over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat medium-low. 
  • Let simmer about 10 - 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and sauce has reduced slightly.
  • Allow mixture to cool about 20 - 30 minutes to thicken up slightly. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

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.
POSSIBLE VARIATIONS:
  • Simmer with a cinnamon stick and/or add a few pinches of ground nutmeg and cloves.
  • Substitute water with an unsweetened cranberry juice or a cranberry juice blend.
  • Add 1/2 tsp vanilla.
  • Mix in some chopped pecans after cooling.
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.
Recipe originally shared November 2012, photos have been updated.

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41 Comments

  • Cathy Moliski

    Every year my friend would make a horseradish cranberry sauce, frosty by sitting in the freezer, an icy mix with tangy heat. This year I tried yours and the orange essence was in perfect harmony with the cranberries! I am going over to her house for her leftover sauce, but I, alas, don’t have any left to share with her.

  • christine

    great…I followed to a t…did add a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon.I love pecans and since there were no family around with allergy to nuts…I went for it! I also use walnuts in my stuffing(the famous recipe using Jimmy Deans’ Sage breakfast sausage.

    • Rosalie

      I would love to have your recipe for your stuffing. The one you use the Jimmy Dean sausage in. My sons name is Jimmie Dean. Would love to make the stuffing.

      • Jaclyn

        Jaclyn Bell

        I have a stuffing recipe here with a sausage option. You can add 1 1/2 lbs cooked sausage to the recipe, just cut butter in half to 1/2 cup, and add the rendered fat of the sausage.

  • Barbara Crawford

    I made this for the first time this weekend. It was super easy and fast. I’ve never tried making cranberry sauce from scratch before. I put a little too much orange in it but after a few days in the refrigerator it mellowed. Had it on my oatmeal this morning, yummy!!! I don’t think I’ll be buying the can stuff anymore :)

  • Annette

    This was amazing. I put it on everything now! I never made cranberry sauce from scratch before and this was by far my favorite thing I made this year for Thanksgiving.

  • Cheryl

    I too have always made my Cranberry sauce from scratch – easy to do and tastes so much better! Along with the orange juice, I also add a can of Mandarin Oranges and toasted walnuts.

  • Doris

    You are so right about this Jaclyn…. so easy to make and a world of difference from the blob of jelly out of a can (although nothing wrong if you like that kind!). Thanks for another great recipe.

  • Mary

    Ooo, too much sugar. Try monk fruit granulated sweetener – no calories, doesn’t raise blood sugar but still safe to eat and sweetens!