How to make homemade cranberry sauce for an easy holiday recipe (and we even have homemade cranberry sauce with dried cranberries recipe)! This is a cranberry sauce with orange, which makes it more of a gourmet cranberry sauce recipe—tart and still sweet. Add this to your cranberry fruit sauce recipes for Thanksgiving food, topping for Thanksgiving turkey, appetizer for Christmas recipes, or even a relish dip that will settle that canned cranberry sauce vs homemade sauce argument once and for all!
How To Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving Recipes or Christmas Recipes
Once you’ve made this fresh cranberry sauce recipe, you’ll never go back to that cranberry sauce in a can (no matter how much your husband kids love to suction that stuff out).
How do you make cranberry sauce from scratch?
Making homemade cranberry sauce from scratch is easier than you think! This is a cranberry sauce 5 ingredients!
Ingredients for cranberry sauce:
- Fresh cranberries (not dried cranberries)
- Fresh Orange / orange zest / fresh orange juice
- Cinnamon (or cinnamon stick)
- Sugar or brown sugar (some people use honey or maple syrup if you want to make homemade cranberry sauce without sugar)
(See the full directions on how to make cranberry sauce homemade below!)
SECRET TIP: we make our recipe as orange cranberry sauce. The homemade cranberry sauce with orange gives it a little extra zing! (You can make it as cranberry sauce with orange juice or cranberry sauce with fresh oranges! If you’re not an orange fan, you can leave it out and make this as a homemade cranberry sauce without orange juice. It’s just as good!)
When making cranberry sauce, you may need to taste and adjust. Some people like sweet cranberry sauce and some like tart cranberry sauce. (We tell you how to adjust the cranberry sauce ingredients below for each those!)
Some people also like to add things like chopped apples or pecans. This is definitely a recipe you can play around with and make to your taste!
Before we get to how to make cranberry sauce, here are some common questions (FAQs) you may have when making a recipe for cranberry sauce (also sometimes called fresh cranberry relish or cranberry chutney).
What do you use cranberry sauce for?
Cranberry sauce can be eaten as a Thanksgiving side dish or Christmas appetizer, or with other yummy cranberry recipes!
What cranberry sauce is used with:
- Cranberry sauce on sandwiches (especially leftover turkey sandwiches or ham sandwiches!)
- Cranberry sauce mayo for sandwiches
- Cranberry relish quick bread
- Muffins with cranberry sauce
- Cranberry sauce quinoa
- Cranberry sauce yeast bread
- Cranberry sauce glaze for pork or pork loin
- Spread on toast, muffins, or fresh bread (like a cranberry jam)
- Cranberry sauce and chili sauce meatballs
- Cranberry sauce zucchini bread
- Butter from cranberries sauce
- Cranberry sauce onion soup brisket (yep! for real!)
- Used as a cranberry sauce dip (so easy and yummy and a great cranberry sauce leftover recipe!)
- Cranberry sauce and brie (one of my favorite ways to use leftover cranberry sauce!)
- Cranberry sauce and chicken
- Cranberry sauce jello salad
It can also be spread on turkey with cranberry sauce or chicken or ham sandwiches. Leftover cranberry sauce can be made into an appetizer or a cranberry orange dip.
There are so many cranberry sauce uses leftovers and more!
Is cranberry sauce served cold or hot?
You may be wondering should cranberry sauce be cold when served. Cranberry sauce is best when it is served at room temperature or cold, but some people like it warm, also! Cold cranberry sauce Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches is really yummy!
FUN FACT FOR KIDS: Did you know Cranberry vines can grow up to six feet in length and can live over 100 years?
TRY THIS RECIPE NEXT:
Your kids will love these Simple 3-Ingredient Sugared Cranberries
Can cranberry sauce be made ahead of time?
Yes! You can make your cranberry sauce a couple of days ahead of time. Just keep the sauce refrigerated until ready to use. You can serve it straight from the refrigerator or, if you like a warmed cranberry sauce, warm it up a little before serving.
Is cranberry sauce supposed to be sweet?
Cranberries are naturally tart, so you want to preserve some of that flavor when making homemade cranberry sauce and not make it too sweet. With that said, you do want to add some sweetness (because the cranberries are too tart just to eat alone when cooked). You can sweeten cranberry sauce with sugar, but if you want cranberry sauce recipe healthy, use raw honey or maple syrup.
How do you make cranberry sauce less tart?
How do you get the bitterness out of cranberry sauce or what can you add to cranberry sauce? Cranberry sauce has sugar to take the tartness (or bitterness) out of it. If your cranberry sauce is too tart, add a little more sugar or raw honey until you get to the desired sweetness. We make our cranberry sauce with orange juice or fresh orange and it balances out some of the tartness of the cranberries.
How do you fix cranberry sauce that is too sweet?
If your cranberry sauce is too sweet, then you will want to add a little more acid. Try adding a little apple cider vinegar or even lemon or lime juice to balance it out.
How do you thicken homemade cranberry sauce?
First, remember that cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. If it’s still too runny, reduce the sauce while cooking and allow some of the liquid to cook off to thicken homemade cranberry sauce. You can also whisk cornstarch into some water and stir that into the cranberries to make it thicker.
Will cranberry sauce thicken as it cools?
Yes, cranberry sauce will become thicker as it cools down. So don’t panic if your cranberry sauce is thin or seems watery. It may thicken upon sitting (but there are tricks to making cranberry sauce thicker, too!).
Does cranberry sauce need to be refrigerated?
To be safe, you should refrigerate cranberry sauce in a covered container within a couple of hours of cooking. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to use.
How long does cranberry sauce keep?
Cranberry sauce will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can also freeze cranberry sauce to use in recipes later.
Can cranberry sauce be frozen?
You can freeze cranberry sauce that has been stored in an airtight, freezer container. Try placing the sauce into a sealable freezer bag and smoothing it out (to flat) to store flat in the freezer. Use leftover cranberry sauce bread recipes, dips, turkey meatball sauce and more!
Can you make cranberry sauce with dried cranberries?
You can make cranberry sauce out of dried cranberries. Just substitute 1 1/2 cups of dried, sweetened cranberries to the recipe instead of fresh, whole cranberries. (However, cranberry sauce whole berry really is better and a super easy recipe to make with them!)
Ok, now that we’ve covered some common cranberry questions, let’s get to the recipe!
How Do I Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce?
This is such an easy cranberry sauce, but people will swear that it’s a gourmet cranberry sauce recipe from some high-end market! (We won’t tell if you won’t tell!)
(And, you’ll never need to decide between fresh cranberry sauce vs canned after you eat this! No more cranberry sauce jellied or whole cranberry sauce arguments!)
I happen to think that this is the best cranberry sauce recipe and even have guests get disappointed if I don’t make it some years! Sometimes I make this cranberry sauce recipe using frozen cranberries because I’ll pick up a bag of fresh cranberries when on sale and throw them in the freezer. Follow the same recipe directions when using a frozen cranberry. It works just as well.
For a twist, you can also make this a cranberry sauce with apples. Just chop up apples and add it to the sauce as it cooks.
- 1 orange
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- Roll and squeeze the orange between your hands to make it juicy. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice from each half into a bowl. Remove the seeds and set aside.
- Peel the orange halves. Remove the membrane and peel from orange pulp and cut into pieces. Set aside.
- Zest some of the orange peel. Place the orange zest in the pot.
- In a saucepan over high heat, combine the orange rind and the 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain the water, separating from the rind, and place the water back into the saucepan. Discard the rinds.
- Rinse and sort the cranberries, discarding any soft ones. Add to the saucepan.
- To the saucepan, add the orange juice, orange pulp, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan partially.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. When the cranberries burst, after about 10 to 15 minutes, the sauce is done.
- Let cool before serving.
If you like a more tart sauce, reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 4mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 2gSugar: 53gProtein: 0g
Nutrition information is estimated. Changes to the recipe and use of different brands may cause changes to the nutritional information to vary slightly from the ones provided here.
And, this is an interesting fun fact to share with the kids when you make this recipe:
Why do we eat cranberry sauce in Thanksgiving?
American Indians used cranberries as a food source, to dye fabric and as medicine…Due to the importance of cranberries in the 1500s and their abundance, it is believed that the pilgrims and the American Indians would have eaten them at the first Thanksgiving.