Easy Cranberry Sauce

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Cranberry Sauce is the perfect complement to every turkey dinner. Nothing is more satisfying than the flavor of a sweet and tart homemade cranberry sauce. You don’t have to wait until the holidays to prepare and serve this super-easy side!

Traditionally, cranberry sauce goes with the Thanksgiving turkey, but even chicken, goose, and Cornish game hens taste divine with this cranberry sauce recipe! Adding a splash of orange juice not only adds extra flavor and this looks beautiful on a Thanksgiving dinner plate!

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

Cranberry Sauce

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

It’s insanely easy to make and the bright burst of flavor from the cranberries is tempered by a simple sauce made from orange juice (or water if you prefer) and sugar. Leave a few berries whole or puree the entire sauce…but either way, homemade is best!

A white bowl of cranberry orange sauce with fresh rosemary.

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

The trick to the best ever cranberry sauce is replacing the water called for in most recipes with orange juice. The amazing flavor the citrus adds takes this to the next level!

You can use fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe, just ensure they’re rinsed well and any debris is removed (like stems). If using frozen, there’s no need to defrost first.

Add your cranberries whole and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes. Remember that the sauce thickens as it cools.

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

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.

I love to experiment with flavor depth by adding a tiny pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon, or allspice to bring out the flavors even more! Replace 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.

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

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cranberry sauce in bowl
5 from 16 votes
Review Recipe

Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
Nothing says ‘holidays’ more than the tangy flavor of a full-bodied homemade cranberry sauce.


  • 12 ounces cranberries about 3 cups
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water or orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick

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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.
  • Cool and serve.

Recipe Notes

Sauce will thicken upon cooling.

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.)

Keyword cranberry sauce
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American

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Cranberry Sauce in a white serving bowl

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About the author


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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

More Posts by Holly

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Recipe Rating


  1. I always add a little Grand Marnier, orange zest and while the sauce is simmering I put some orange rind peels in it. So good and freezes great!

  2. I made this cranberry sauce and it’s too die for thank you it’s so awesome I put a little orange zest in also we like the tart that it has my favorite recipe. Ever. Lyndia from Lakeland fla5 stars

  3. Hi. This looks great! Do the cranberries need to pop open when cooking?
    Also, if using frozen cranberries do they need to thaw out before cooking?
    THANK you!

  4. Hey I was wondering how far in advance to Thanksgiving cal the cranberry sauce be made. Thank you for sharing your recipe

      1. My ex mother in law use to make a jellied cranberry relish. It had chopped celery, nuts and cottage cheese. Don’t remember the other ingredients and she has passed away. Any ideas?

      2. I don’t have anything close but I’m a big cottage cheese lover! I have some vintage recipe cards and books so if I happen to come across something similar, I’ll be sure to let you know!