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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.”


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.


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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, 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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  • This really caught my Thankgivingers by surprise. No one really liked cranberries very much and were used to choking down the canned stuff. Enter this recipe and they went for their spoons. I also enjoyed mixing with sour cream as a dessert. What else should I use it on as it seems very versatile and not overly sweet?

    • — Keith Taylor on November 29, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Keith, So glad your Thanksgivingers liked it! I would be great mixed with cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, plain Greek yogurt and topped off with a little granola. It would also be a nice sweet condiment on a savory sandwich (like grilled cheese) or as a topping for pancakes or waffles. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 30, 2023
      • Reply
      • Oh my yes, thank you!

        • — Keith Taylor on December 2, 2023
        • Reply
        • The combos worked great especially the yogurt. I must confess that the sour cream still rocks. In a rush to the store recently, I bought FL grapefruits by mistake based on their size and after not reading the label… However, these are not extremely tart or sour even with the zest. I also tried it with the CA navel oranges which seemed to overpower the cranberries. Any other fruits that you might consider?
          Thank you!

          • — Keith Taylor on December 26, 2023
          • Reply
          • So glad you were able to make the best of your leftovers! I honestly can’t think of another fruit that would be appropriate here — sorry!

            • — Jenn on December 27, 2023
  • Wow, this cranberry sauce is so delicious. I made it exactly as written and it turned out perfectly. The orange juice and zest elevates it to another level. It’s so fresh tasting! I am using the last bit for my toast in the mornings. Thank you.

    • — Kim on November 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious!!

    • — Tracy on November 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was delicious! Thank you for all of your great recipes 🙂

    • — Lisa on November 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • I don’t know how this has 5 stars…. I nearly doubled the amount of cranberries and water but left the orange juice and zest about the same amount on this recipe, and it still turned out to be too much orange and completely took away from the cranberries. I had to make a whole new batch without the orange and mix a 1/4 of the original orange mix into the regular mix for it to be any good.

    • — Martha on November 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen
    Just finished your pumpkin pie and perfect pie crust, can’t wait to try it tomorrow. Question on your cranberry sauce, I overcooked it a bit yesterday, and I am afraid it’s very thick. Can I reheat it on the stove with a little more OJ or water to thin it out? Thanks.

    • — Emma B on November 22, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Emma, Yes definitely – that should work well (and you can use either OJ or water). Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving!

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    How many cups is 12 oz. of cranberries?
    Thank you!

    • — Carmelita on November 22, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Carmelita, a 12 ounce bag has 3 cups.

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Made exactly as instructed and it came out fantastic! I may have to turn in my cans!

    • — Laura on November 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • So good I might have to make a 2nd batch for Thanksgiving.

    • — Marcie on November 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • Tastes great and easy to make!

    • — Mj on November 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hello Jen. Just made this recipe for our Thanksgiving dinner. Followed the recipe exactly. The sauce/gel is too thin. I noticed some cooks reduce the amounts of water, OJ. Please advise how I can THICKEN the sauce. Thank you, Cathy

    • — Cathy on November 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Cathy, I would let it sit out for a bit — it should thicken up nicely once it reaches room temperature. If not, I would try cooking it for a bit longer.

      • — Jenn on November 19, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thank you for your prompt reply. The ‘first’ attempt never did set up/thicken; I’m not sure what went wrong! Back to grocery store, and remade the recipe without water, and just a bit more OJ, and it came out perfect. My entire family loves your recipes!

        • — Cathy on November 19, 2023
        • Reply
  • Simple, lip-smackingly tart, and delicious. I was lazy and used 6 wide strips of orange peel instead of zesting my huge orange, then fished them out before chilling. Still redolent of orange and absolutely lovely. Thank you, Jenn! And Happy Thanksgiving!

    • — Jenni on November 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this recipe literally for decades, always wonderful. But, for the last few years I’ve made a tweak. I use no water, 3/4 cup of orange juice and 1/2/cup of brandy. The alcohol will boil off but leaving a great flavor. I also don’t mash it as everyone in our family loves the varied texture. I never told anyone when I made this change and immediately everyone said this was the best batch ever.

    • — Bob on November 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • oooh, I read this just in time. I’m trying this Bob!

      • — colleen on November 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    Can I use “regular” orange juice instead of fresh oj?
    Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    • — Suzanne on November 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Suzanne, that’s fine. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

      • — Jenn on November 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • So yummy! Anxious to serve it on Thanksgiving.

    • — Deborah King on November 15, 2023
    • Reply
  • Thank-you for the simple cranberry sauce recipe. For longer-term storage , it’s also possible to preserve the sauce in a jar : but going through the process of filling a clean , warmed jar and filling with sauce while hot.

    • — Anna Turley on November 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Anna, I didn’t develop this recipe for canning so I can’t say for sure that it would be safe. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on November 14, 2023
      • Reply
  • I made this cranberry sauce tonight to freeze for Thanksgiving. I followed the recipe exactly as written. It turned out great. Quite delicious. I can’t wait to see how it tastes after freezing it. Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Penney from Texas on November 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made the cranberry sauce and I love the combination of orange and cranberries. Sooo good. Thank you.

    • — Jett on October 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • Thank you for the most delicious cranberry sauce. I opted for the 1/2 cup orange juice with 1/2 cup of water. It sure will be enjoyed today.

    • — Mary D on October 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • Not one for commenting. I am not a big cranberry sauce fan. This will definitely become a main staple in my house. Not just for the holidays either.

    I did tweak the recipe a little. I added some whole clove and cinnamon. Next time I am going to try a stick of cinnamon instead ground.

    • — Joseph on April 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • A new twist on the traditional recipe. Delicious!

    • — Linda on April 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this yesterday with a bag of fresh cranberries I needed to use from the holidays….WOW! It is refreshing and delicious. Going to serve it along cornflake crusted chicken for dinner. Thank you!

    • — Jill on January 4, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious!!!

    Tangy and not too sweet. It is a refreshing flavor on your Thanksgiving table. The orange adds freshness and compliments the heavier dishes. My family really loved it!

    • — Stephanie R. on November 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • Best Cranberry sauce we have ever had! Perfectly balanced between sweet and tart and very bright!

    • — Derek on November 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • So easy and delicious! Definitely a keeper recipe!

    • — Deana S on November 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • I make this every year and it is the best! Easy to make and always get compliments!!!

    • — Judy Speers on November 26, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sooooooooo good 😃

      • — Liz Ryan on November 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Officially switching to this recipe. Made if for Thanksgiving and it is so delicious! Thanks!

    • — L on November 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Very good. I added a cinnamon stick and it was perfect.

    • — Heather P. on November 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • I did not add water to mine, had a little more than half cup of juice & that was plenty of liquid for us. My go-to recipe for cranberry sauce! Sometimes I add a bit of cinnamon & nutmeg, but generally let the cranberries stand out.

    • — Terry M on November 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was excellent. I forgot to make/buy cranberry sauce although I did have bag or two in the refrig. Simple and great recipe. I didn’t forget to wash the crans.

    • — Judy Schell on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious and so simple

    • — Bella on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is my go to cranberry sauce every year. Family and friends that don’t care for cranberry sauce love It! I am now passing it on to my children and grandchildren. A treasured family recipe now.

    • — Carolyn G on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yes. Turned out excellent. I will admit that I added maybe 2 extra tbl sugar as the berries were a bit sour. Beautiful. I do mash probably more than you would have but I wanted a more consistent sauce. Thanks.

      • — Ommie7 on November 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • This turned out fantastic, and I’m not a cranberry sauce person, I made it for the family and I love it! First time I’ve ever liked cranberry sauce! I used fresh squeezed OJ from Whole
    Foods instead of from the orange

    • — Marcie on November 23, 2022
    • Reply

      • — Marcie on November 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delish- I did add half a chopped apple. Will be making this again !

    • — Camille on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • I make this every year for Thanksgiving now and it’s so flavorful and fresh. My family loves it. It has a good balance between the sweetness and tartness; the orange flavor is phenomenal.

    • — Legolas on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • I reduced the amount of sugar by a half and added a splash of best quality ginger liqueur toward the end. Delicious!

      • — Tracy on November 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • This cranberry sauce is a winner—i’ll be adding it to my Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes! I added a packet of plain gelatin and a few drops of almond extract. I also cut up an orange to put in it!

    • — Paulette on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is so delicious! Simple to make and yields so much flavor. I used a potato masher at the end to slightly blend the cranberries. I will be making this year round! Thank you Jenn for yet another fabulous recipe.

    • — Leda on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • My go-to cranberry sauce recipe from now on! Absolutely the best I’ve ever made!. It is a wonderful balance between sweet, tart, and orange. I followed the recipe just as written and it turned out beautifully.

    • — Chandra Lake on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Just made double this recipe adding some cinnamon sticks. Picked some (Hawaiian) oranges and got a cup of juice from just two. This is delicious: sweet and tart. Will be great on turkey sandwiches on Friday.

    • — Janet on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe but
    -1 used the juice of 3 clementines (all I had) and added 1/2 of the juiced clementine to cook in the sauce instead of zest
    -added a cinnamon stick
    -1 saved 1/4 of the cranberries to add 5 minute later for varied chunks.
    And it turned out so yummy!!

    • — Gabrielle on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • I just made this in preparation for Thanksgiving (as I do every year). I like to rough chop the cranberries in the food processor and add a cinnamon stick while cooking. I love this year-round! I also use it to dress meat dishes (such as baked chicken thighs topped with sauce) and I smear it in between layers for a yummy grilled cheese sandwich. The possibilities are endless! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Kathye on November 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • I wanted to make a different cranberry sauce to try this Thanksgiving. This one is fantastic! I usually use the recipe on the Ocean Spray bag. This is so much better! I doubled it and used a touch less sugar, as I always do. I can’t wait for my family to try it! I love the taste of the orange in it.

    • — CarolK on November 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Making this for the second year in a row. Perfect sauce! Thank you!

    • — Alyssa on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • It is a staple for T giving turkey and Christmas filet. This recipe was printed on the plastic bag containing “Moody Cranberries” found in the midcoast of Maine at specialty grocery stores. It is superb–made it for about 15 years now.

    • — Jim Bowditch on November 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have made and enjoyed this recipe many times! Making ahead now for upcoming Thanksgiving. Thanks Jenn. I have discovered years ago that adding a small amount of allspice takes this to new limits. Seems a perfect complimentary flavor to cranberries and orange. I find allspice a very underused spice.

    • — MaryAnn Neblock on November 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Oh, so good! No more canned cranberry sauce for me. This is easy and delicious. My guests will love it.

    • — Nancy on November 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is the best cranberry dish I have ever made! Thanks for the easy and delicious recipe.

    • — Barbara on November 17, 2022
    • Reply
    • Wonderful recipe! Another version: I add some diced apple and a small bit of allspice or cardomom. Everyone loves some version of this easy delicious recipe.

      • — Me on November 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • As always, a delicious recipe! This Thanksgiving I plan to double it as everyone loves it.

    • — Rae Kahn on November 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious flavor! It was just WAY too sweet for us, it drowned out the cranberries. Will definitely try the recipe again, with a third of sugar less. 🙂

    • — Stephanie Torres on November 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • I just made this for Thanksgiving dinner. Just the right amount of orange juice and zest. Thanks for a simple way to elevate cranberry sauce
      It’s delicious!

      • — Judy on November 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • I saw in the other comments that maple syrup could be used in place of sugar, but for diabetics would Sweet N Low or Splenda work?

    • — Karen B. on October 31, 2022
    • Reply
    • I think that would work and I’d go with Splenda. Please LMK how it turns out with it!

      • — Jenn on November 1, 2022
      • Reply

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