This Cranberry Sauce recipe is so incredibly easy to make with just 4 ingredients and the taste is so much better than canned or jarred!

Prepare cranberry sauce months ahead of time and keep it in the freezer. Simply thaw and serve on the big day!

bowl of Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Is So Easy

This cranberry sauce recipe is both sweet and tart and tastes so much better than a can! Serve it at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. It goes great with roast turkey, goose, Cornish game hens, or even ham.

  • It’s super easy to make. No prep is needed.
  • Can be made as a whole berry sauce or smooth.
  • Use fresh or frozen berries.
  • Can be made months ahead and frozen.

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

Cranberry Sauce uncooked in pot

Ingredients for Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries – Cranberries are the star and fresh or frozen taste exactly the same in this recipe. If using frozen, there is no need to thaw first.

Cinnamon – I love to add a cinnamon stick to the mix, if you don’t have one, add a small pinch of ground cinnamon or even apple pie spice!

Sugar – Cranberries are very tart so sugar is needed to balance the flavor. White sugar or brown sugar work. This cranberry sauce recipe can be made with sweetener, maple syrup, or honey in place of sugar.

Liquid – A bit of water is needed to cook the cranberries. Replace water with juice like orange juice or apple apple juice.


  • Juices – We use water or orange juice but use your favorite juice like pineapple or apple juice.
  • Zest – Stir in some lemon or orange zest or orange peel for some extra flavor.
  • Fruit – Add chopped apples, pears, a slice of ginger, or even chopped pecans.
  • Spices – Play with the spices and add a pinch of nutmeg, or allspice.
  • Boozy – 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.
Cranberry Sauce in pot with cinnamon

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

It’s so easy!

  1. Place cranberries, sugar, and water (or juice) in a saucepan with a cinnamon stick per the recipe below.
  2. Simmer (you’ll hear the cranberries start to pop) and stir for about 10 minutes.
  3. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.
Serving homemade cranberry sauce with a spoon

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.

How to Freeze Cranberry Sauce

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.

Fresh cranberries will last up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator and they can be frozen for up to a year as long as they are sealed in an airtight bag.

Prep the cranberry sauce up to 3 months ahead of time and freeze. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

A bowl of homemade cranberry sauce

Got Leftover Cranberry Sauce?

Leftover cranberry sauce is perfect for topping ice cream, cheesecake, or sponge cake. It’s great on leftover turkey sandwiches or layer it into overnight refrigerator oatmeal or on top of french toast or homemade waffles or pancakes

Ways to use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Did your family love this homemade Cranberry Sauce? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

A spoon in a bowl of homemade cranberry sauce
4.95 from 80 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easy Cranberry Sauce

Nothing says ‘holidays’ quite like the tangy flavor of a fresh, homemade cranberry sauce!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings


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  • 12 ounces cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water or orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • In a medium pot, combine cranberries, sugar, water, and the cinnamon stick.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes uncovered.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and discard. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until chilled.


12oz cranberries is approximately 3 cups. Frozen cranberries do not need to be thawed.
Water produces a more traditional flavor while orange juice makes it zestier.
The cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
This is a whole berry sauce, for a smooth texture, place the warm sauce into a mesh strainer and strain it into a bowl pressing the cranberries to remove as much juice as possible. 
Make this sauce weeks (or months) ahead of time and freeze. Thaw overnight and serve for the big day.
4.95 from 80 votes

Nutrition Information

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 Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine American
plated tart Cranberry Sauce with a title
close up of Cranberry Sauce with writing
bowl of Cranberry Sauce with writing
adding cinnamon and spices to make Cranberry Sauce and plated dish with a title


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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Recipe Rating


  1. I loved the ease of the recipe but this was WAY too sweet for me. If you like cranberry sauce on the tarter side, use 1/2 -3/4 cup sugar.3 stars

  2. I use 2 tbls of water for each 12 ounce bag and add 2 or 3 strips of orange zest and sugar of course. Comes out perfect every year.

  3. be careful using the recipe doubler/tripled. I was rushed and tripled the recipe. the about 3 cups of cranberries never tripled. the ounces tripped but not the measuring amount. like a dummy I did 3 3 3 of everything. anyone know what to make with this almost cranberry syrup4 stars

    1. Oh no S, I can see how that would be confusing. I have moved the measurement to the notes to avoid confusion. You could certainly add more cranberries and reboil it.

  4. I love this recipe. Delicious and simple. I like using orange juice and used cinnamon. I made it today to have for dinner tonight with pork loin and baked sweet potatoes.5 stars

  5. My husband likes to use dark brown sugar and 1:1 Jack Daniels and Water along with the cinnamon stick and lemon zest. I think this year I’ll try dark rum. :)

  6. Delicious and easy recipe. I will never buy can cranberry sauce ever again. BTW I’ve done several of your recipes and they never disappoint. :) thank you