Cranberry Sauce

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.

Ditch the can and impress your guests with this easy and elegant homemade cranberry sauce—ready to brighten your holiday table in just 15 minutes!

cranberry sauce in a bowl

Let’s retire the jiggly, can-shaped cranberry sauce with ridges, shall we? It has a certain nostalgic charm, I’ll admit, but homemade cranberry sauce is in a league of its own—and it’s surprisingly simple to whip up. Simply boil fresh (or frozen) cranberries with sugar, water, orange juice, and orange zest, and in just 15 minutes, you’ll have a sauce bursting with bright, sweet flavors.The best part? You can make it ahead of time and relax knowing it’ll stay perfectly fresh in the fridge for up to 10 days or in the freezer for two months. Serve it up alongside your favorite turkey recipe (I love a dry-brined turkey) and turkey gravy, then give your post-feast turkey sandwiches a gourmet twist by mixing the leftover sauce with mayo for an irresistibly delicious spread.

“I usually use the recipe on the Ocean Spray bag. This is so much better! I can’t wait for my family to try it! I love the taste of the orange in it.”


About Fresh Cranberries

Cranberries in water.

As the leaves start to turn, fresh cranberries make their seasonal appearance, ripe for the picking from mid-September through the end of the year. These tart little jewels are harvested in a unique way: the bogs they grow in are flooded, causing the cranberries to float to the surface for easy collection. They’re not just for sauces; cranberries can brighten up desserts and baked goods, like Nantucket cranberry pie, cranberry nut bread, or apple cranberry crumble. You can even use them to make cranberry chutney. Find them fresh in the produce section during the fall, and grab a few extra bags to freeze and enjoy any time.

What you’ll need to make cranberry sauce

ingredients for cranberry sauce

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by zesting one of the oranges. A rasp grater is the best tool but any grater with small holes will work—just be sure to leave the white pith behind as it’s quite bitter. Always zest the orange before squeezing the juice out, as it’s near impossible to do afterward.

zesting and juicing the oranges

Combine the orange juice, water and sugar in a medium pot and bring to a boil.

water, orange juice and sugar in a pot

Add the cranberries, orange zest and salt.

adding the cranberries, zest, and salt to the pot

Boil gently for about 10 minutes.

boiling cranberry sauce

Most of the cranberries should burst open, creating a thick sauce. You may need to mash them a bit with a spoon.

finished cranberry sauce in pot

Transfer the sauce to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

How to Store Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce should be cooled completely before storing. Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

How To Freeze Cranberry Sauce

Fresh cranberry sauce freezes beautifully, so you can make it a month or two ahead of time to get a jump start on your holiday cooking. Allow the sauce to cool completely and then store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let the cranberry sauce thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.


You may also like

Spoon in a small bowl of cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Sauce

Ditch the can and impress your guests with this easy and elegant homemade cranberry sauce—ready to brighten your holiday table in just 15 minutes!

Servings: 2¼ cups
Total Time: 15 Minutes


  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice, from two oranges
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 (12 oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries (do not use dried)
  • Zest of one orange, about 2 teaspoons
  • Pinch salt


  1. In a medium sauce pan over high heat, bring the water, orange juice, and sugar to a boil. Add the cranberries, orange zest, and salt and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of cranberries have burst open. (You may need to mash them a bit with a spoon.)
  2. Transfer sauce to a serving bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
  3. Make-Ahead/Freezing Instructions: Cranberry sauce will keep for 10 days in a covered container in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for up to two months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: about 1/3 cup
  • Calories: 126
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 33 g
  • Sugar: 28 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Sodium: 43 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

See more recipes:


  • Absolutely fantastic and tasty. Made it for Christmas dinner and would do it again with turkey or ham. Thank you for sharing.

    • — Petra on December 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • My husband just made this. Absolutely delicious. I think the zest of the orange is what made it special. He did add cinnamon as well. Thank you for the recipe.

    • — maude kandula on December 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • Very easy to make. Followed your recipe but I didn’t add the 2 tbl. of extra sugar. I like it more tart than sweet. I made it 2 days before Christmas and kept it in the fridge.

    • — P T. Goodman on December 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen. Just made this cranberry sauce ahead of time for our family christmas dinner, it went into two jars perfectly. I had to taste the sauce that was left over in the pan and it was amazing, can taste the orange, not too sweet, a little tart, this is going to be a great addition to our dinner and the cold meats afterwards. Thank you.

    • — John - Essex UK on December 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • YUM! This cranberry orange sauce is perfect. I made it last Christmas, too. This recipe is a keeper!

    • — LeeAnn on December 19, 2023
    • Reply

Add a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.