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.

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

A spoon in a bowl of homemade cranberry sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Is So Easy

Homemade cranberry sauce recipe is both sweet and tart and tastes SO MUCH BETTER than a can!

It’s a perfect addition to our Thanksgiving table (we serve it at Christmas and Easter too). 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

Cranberries – Fresh cranberries are the star of this recipe and frozen will work just as well! 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 – Cranberries are really tart so sugar is needed to balance the flavor. White sugar or brown sugar works and this recipe can be made with sweetener, maple syrup, or honey too!

Liquid – 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.

Cranberry Sauce Variations

  • Juices – We use 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/orange juice in a medium saucepan with a cinnamon stick per the recipe below.
  2. Bring to a simmer (you’ll hear the cranberries start to pop) and stir. Simmer about 10 minutes.
  3. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.

Easy right?!

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 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 to top 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

A spoon in a bowl of homemade cranberry sauce
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Easy Cranberry Sauce

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

Equipment

Ingredients  

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

Instructions 

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan or medium pot 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 refrigerate until chilled.

Notes

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 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. Another option is to blend with a hand blender.
4.99 from 58 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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

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About the author

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!
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Comments

  1. I add fresh rasberrys and frozen bing cherries. Sometimes canned mandarin oranges. There is no limit to the choices of additional fruit you can add to the sauce.

  2. This is a good, basic recipe…to take it to the next level put a small can of mandarin oranges and a handful of pecans in the cranberries. They are yummy!4 stars

    1. Hi Arlene, I have not tried canning this recipe and unfortunately am unable to say if this recipe is suitable for canning. Maybe one of our readers will have a suggestion for you!

  3. Would ground cinnamon work in place of the cinnamon stick? If so, how much ground cinnamon would you recommend?

  4. I’ve made this Cranberry sauce for a few years. It’s quick and easy and always a hit for those who love cranberry sauce! It freezes well, too.

  5. This looks really good. I use a couple of large soup spoons full of marmalade instead of orange juice or orange rind, as well as 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water. The marmalade adds a nice texture and is not bitter. I bring to boil, skim off and cook for about 30 to 45 minutes on low. When it cools it has the consistency of canned cranberry sauce. Holds in the refrigerator for weeks. My husband loves it.

  6. 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!

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!