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Cranberry Sauce

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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.”

Carol

About Fresh Cranberries

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.

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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, Edamam.com. 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.

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Comments

  • This is amazing! I can’t wait to make it again! The flavor was incredible, with the fresh orange juice, orange zest and cranberries! Now I want to look up your other recipes!

    • This is a yearly must-have for the table! Growing up, my aunt who’s not a very good cook always hosted thanksgiving (we had Xmas) so I was deprived of fresh cranberry sauce for a good portion of my life. I make up for it now with this! So simple, yet elevates the meal that much more. I have always needed more than 2 oranges to get enough orange juice, so I buy 3 or 4.

  • Very easy, basic recipe. Delicious and a perfect complement to Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Great tasting and easy. I did add a cinnamon stick for a little extra flavor.

  • Just made. Tastes wonderful, but didn’t thicken. Very runny. Any way to fix this?

    • — Elizabeth A Fields
    • Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, It should thicken when chilled.

  • This cranberry sauce is requested every year! So easy to make and tastes so good.

  • Can you substitue dates for the sugar? Or other suggestions besides using sugar.

    • Hi Stacey, I think maple syrup would work really well.

  • One word – OUTSTANDING

  • I made this yesterday – it’s perfect! I love that it has less sugar than most other recipes; I used even less, 2/3 cup, and it tastes great! Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

    • I wish I had used less – I used 3/4, subtracted the extra 2TB, and it’s still too sweet. Wondering if a little lemon juice could counteract some of the sweetness. I don’t want to buy more cranberries!

      • Yes, a little lemon juice will work.

  • My whole family LOVES this recipe, even my super picky daughter!

  • Can you make this a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator?

  • Delicious! I followed as written and the sauce came out perfectly! As I was covering it to put in the fridge, a couple of spoonfuls landed on some cream cheese I just softened! This made an excellent dip!

  • Hi. I just made mine and it’s bitter. Do you have any suggestions on how to fix it? Thankfully, I still have time to.

    • Hi, I’d try adding another tablespoon of sugar. Just stir it really thoroughly to get it distributed throughout. Hope that helps!

  • FYI for me this was WAY too sugary. I tried adding some lemon juice to balance it out and it didn’t work so I’m going to have to do a re-do. I’d do half the amount of sugar and see where it’s at from there.

  • This recipe is so easy and delicious. I have been using this recipe for all of my holiday meals for years!

    • This recipe is great. I have been using it a long time for the holidays I add a tablespoon of grand manier to it. Adult version cranberry sauce.

  • We make this every year, it is such a wonderful addition to our Thanksgiving table. I put a bit aside and use it as the topping on the cheesecake!

  • I’m not the biggest fan of cran/orange flavored anything. Do you think I should omit the orange juice and replace with water? Or maybe cut in half?

    • Hi Kelly, I haven’t tried it, but another reader commented that she replaced the OJ with water and was still happy with the taste. Please LMK how it turns out if you adapt it!

      • Amazing and simple! Perfect combo!

    • I have cut the juice in half before as I only had one orange and it still had great flavor!

  • I can use fresh or frozen cranberries. Which do you prefer?

    • — Suzanne Fawbush
    • Reply
    • I always use fresh because they’re so accessible at this time of year, but I really don’t have any preference; either fresh or frozen will work. Hope you enjoy!

  • Don’t even think about making this sauce. JUST DO IT! It is the BEST ever. 5-stars!!

  • We just had Thanksgiving in Canada and this was perfect. I didn’t have enough oranges so used orange juice (no pulp), fresh cranberries and zest from one orange and it was delicious 😋 Definitely 5*.

    • — Kinga Koscielska
    • Reply
  • Yummy is my best review! 5+ stars.

    • — Judith A Thompson
    • Reply
    • I can so top this. add ORANGE MARMALADE to fresh cranberry sauce, instead of all that orange juice business. Mix well and chill. I am always asked to bring this to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

      • So you…haven’t made this recipe?

  • A nice balance of the cranberries. 0range and sugar. There was no bitterness. (Be sure and avoid the white of the orange. )
    Guest asked for recipe.

  • I made it for Thanksgiving, it was delicious. Everybody liked it and it taste very fresh. It is easy to make and you can make a few days early.

    • — Marta Barberree
    • Reply
  • Love it and so did my family! The orange zest and juice put it over the top. Thank you.

  • I am not a cranberry sauce fan in general but this is fantastic!!! I love the orange in it. Highly recommend!

  • This recipe was easy and delicious! I tried another recipe that called for 1/2 cup of sugar and it was tart. The extra two tablespoons made all the difference. Also appreciated the tip of zesting the orange before extracting the juice.

    • My Husband and I made this recipe and it was absolutely delicious. Definitely making it again. Love!

  • It’s okay. I doubled the recipe, but I had to add more sugar after I finished because it was too bitter still. I think this would be a good baseline to then play around with.

  • First time I’ve ever made a homemade cranberry sauce.
    So easy to make and delicious!
    The sweet-tart flavor will go great with the savory dressing tomorrow.

    • — Marcia Teas-Hicks
    • Reply
  • Perfect sauce. I have even just used water and no juice or zest and we still love it. Since fresh cranberries are only available this time of the year, I buy bags of them and freeze so I can have the sauce most of the year. Great with any meat.

    • What a great idea!!!. Will follow your lead! We love it!

  • A friend of mine made this last week and it was amazing! I asked for the recipe. She said she also had trouble getting enough juice for the orange so she also zested a lemon and added juice of a lemon to the recipe! It was amazing. I plan on making it for this Thanksgiving.

    • — Stephanie Wasserman
    • Reply
  • Really good and simple to make.
    Thanks!

  • Can this recipe be canned in a waterbath? Thank you

    • — Laurie Senn Sagerman
    • Reply
    • Hi Laurie, I didn’t develop this recipe for canning so I can’t say for sure that it would be safe. Sorry!

  • I love this recipe 🙂 Took mine a little longer to thicken, about 15 mins, I just simmered it until it looked like the picture and I added a teaspoon and a half of cinnamon too, it was amazing. Making another batch now!

    • — ChristinaLouise
    • Reply
    • Very nice. I needed two oranges to get a half cup of juice.

    • The most delicious homemade cranberries I’ve ever made. I think the 1/2 cup of oramge juice made all the defference. Perfect amount of sweetness. Thank you!

      • — Michelle Lockwood
      • Reply
  • This is the best recipe for cranberry sauce and I have been making this sauce for years.

  • SUPER DELICIOUS! I ate SO MUCH of this with my Thanksgiving dinner. Making more now for Christmas! Thank you so much for all of these recipes! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays 🎄

  • I once made a homemade cranberry sauce from a detailed recipe by a woman named Martha… this year I found this recipe that is so easy, you’ll convert all the cranberry haters and canned cranberry lovers. I added a whole can of pears, juice and all, 3 cloves and a little cinnamon stick to these ingredients and it stretched it for 10 ppl with a little bit for leftovers. Thanks!

    • — Barbara Garcia
    • Reply
  • It was easy, quick and delicious. Thank you for sharing this great recipe. I really loved the flavor.

  • What do you do if your orange doesn’t make a half cup of juice? Do you add enough water to the juice to make a half cup or just leave it?

    • Hi Kelly, Yes just add a little water to make up the difference.

  • HOW MUCH WATER FOR CRANBERRY SAUCE?

    • — REV. NANCY ZALA
    • Reply
    • This recipe call for 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup OJ.

  • Yum. Made a big batch today. Freezing half for Christmas. Came out great.

    • — Debbie Compton
    • Reply
  • Love this! Perfect cranberry sauce! Thank you Chef Segal!

    • — Daniel James Dudley
    • Reply
  • Is it suppose to be soupy

    • Hi Hannah, It should not be too soupy but keep in mind it thickens up a lot as it cools.

    • It looks soupy at first, but as it cooks it will thicken.

  • I have made this recipe now for many years. I used to be the one that would never go near cranberry sauce…until this recipe! As I’ve grown more comfortable making it I”ve adulterated it in all kinds of ways and its always amazing. Sometimes I put figs in it (so yummy, plus fun texture), sometimes I put in ruby port, sometimes I put in ginger, sometimes red wine, and sometimes I combine many of these! A very flexible recipe to say the least and it is always spectacular. Something to note; when I used figs and red wine, I also put in a couple cranks of fresh cracked pepper- you might cringe at this but it was SO good.

  • Where I live they don’t have fresh cranberries but they have the dried ones, how do I calculate how much I would need for this recipe? or how can I make this recipe?

    • Unfortunately, dried cranberries won’t work here, Lorena- I’m sorry! You can use frozen cranberries if they carry them in your store.

    • Hi Lorena, Having lived abroad I had to make a cranberry sauce from dried ones and succeeded! I recommend soaking the cranberries in orange juice for as long as possible (1 day ideally or a few hours). Then cook them as you would normally in this recipe. You’ll still be able to make a sauce but because this is way off from using fresh, monitor your pot closely and adjust the liquids until you get the consistency you want. Good luck.

  • I’m curious about adding a bit of booze to this. Brandy, whisky, rum? Thoughts?

    • Sure, Casey – I think that’d work.

    • I add an orange liquor called Gran Marnier. It’s awesome!

      • Rosemary I’m going to follow your suggestion but use some Gran Gala I already have on hand. About how much would you say you add, a teas.? Or tables.? Or more? 🙂 Thanks!

      • I agree. I always add a liqueur to this recipe, and Grand Marnier is my favorite.

  • I have a similar recipe and I add a splash of Grand Marnier to the “adults ” serving bowl. It takes it over the top!

  • What is the serving size? How many servings can I make?

    • Hi Catherine, This recipe makes enough for about 16 servings.

  • I brought this to Thanksgiving dinner with friends who don’t like cranberry sauce. They didn’t even taste it, but I left some at their house anyway. The next day I got a text: “OMG this cranberry sauce is amazing! We had no idea!” Yep. Now they request it every year. It’s especially good on turkey sandwiches. 🙂

  • Just made this and it is the most flavorful and fantastic recipe I have ever had!! I did add a cinnamon stick to it while in the second boil. Fabulous!!!!

  • Just made this…..

    It is now chilling….

    The flavor while warm is amazing.
    Can’t wait to taste it chilled!

    It was very easy to make.

  • I Love this simple recipe! So easy to make and everyone Loves it! So much better than the canned stuff! I also put the left over in a pie with cherry pie filling. It was tangy and very good!

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