Homemade cranberry sauce is a quick and 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.
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).
Whether you’re making this for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas side dishes, it’s a holiday recipe kids will love (and your super picky husband, too!).
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! (You’ll never want that canned stuff again!)
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 (or orange peel) / fresh cup of orange juice
- Cinnamon (or cinnamon stick)
- White sugar or brown sugar (some people use honey or pure maple syrup if you want to make homemade cranberry sauce without sugar or with less sugar for a more healthy homemade cranberry sauce)
See the full recipe directions and printable recipe card on how to make cranberry sauce homemade below, including tips on how to make cranberry sauce with dried cranberries!
SECRET RECIPE TIP TO MAKING YOUR OWN CRANBERRY SAUCE:
We make our recipe as orange cranberry sauce. The homemade cranberry sauce with orange gives it a little extra zing and is the perfect combination! (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 and makes one of the best Thanksgiving side dishes!)
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!
This is also a fun recipe to make with kids because the popping cranberries are fun and there’s a lot to learn about cranberries during the fall season and winter season.
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).
Cooking With Cranberries (Recipe for Homemade Cranberry Sauce Tips)
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
- Cranberry orange bread
- 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!)
- Cranberry sauce and brie (another one of my favorite ways to use leftover cranberry sauce!)
- Cranberry sauce and chicken
- Cranberry sauce jello salad
- Used as a cranberry sauce dip (so easy and yummy and a great cranberry sauce leftover recipe – a favorite way to eat it!)
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.
This is also a good recipe with ice cream!
There are so many cranberry sauce uses leftovers and more!
Ah yes, the great debate: should cranberry sauce be warm or cold?
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!
It’s a fun time of year for cranberry ideas!
TRY THIS CRANBERRY RECIPES AND CRANBERRY KIDS ACTIVITIES NEXT:
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FUN FACT FOR KIDS: Did you know Cranberry vines can grow up to six feet in length and can live over 100 years?
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 in an airtight container (or even a mason jar with a lid) 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. (Frozen cranberry sauce is a great addition to so many other dishes!)
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!
But, can I make cranberry sauce with dried cranberries?
You may also be wondering about making cranberry sauce from dried cranberries.
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 using dried cranberries tastes a little different. Cranberry sauce whole berry really is better and a super easy recipe to make with them!
OK! Let’s get to this quick recipe for cranberry sauce perfect for your Thanksgiving table or Christmas dinner table! It’s the perfect complement to Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham!
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! Definitely add this your recipes for cranberries sauce!)
And, you’ll never need to decide between fresh cranberry sauce vs canned after you eat this!
(Can of cranberry sauce. Yuck.)
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. I’ll pick up a bag of fresh cranberries when on sale at the grocery store and throw them in the freezer.
(So grab those bags of cranberries when you see them on sale!)
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.
You can also add a pinch of salt to cut through the tartness.
My favorite surprising part of this dish is the orange flavor that comes from fresh orange juice or the peel of the orange! (You can even try lemon zest for a little more on the tart side!)
This side dish also looks beautiful on your holiday table with a Thanksgiving meal or holiday meal.
This is hands down the best homemade cranberry sauce recipe I’ve ever made!
Here are the few simple ingredients for this easy holiday dish…
Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Learning how to make homemade cranberry sauce recipe from scratch is easy! Our cranberries are made with orange juice and orange zest to elevate it to a gourmet cranberry sauce or even a yummy cranberry dip or cranberry salsa!
The longer you cook this down, the more it will become like cranberry jelly.
*Scroll up in the post if you want to know how to make homemade cranberry sauce with dried cranberries.
- 1 orange
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups fresh cranberries (12-ounce bag)
- 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 medium 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 medium 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. You can play around with the amount of sugar based on how sweet or tart you like cranberry sauce.
Also, I let this cook down naturally and leave some of the whole cranberries in the dish. (We like a chunky cranberry sauce.) If you like it smoother, use a mixer or potato masher to make a smooth cranberry sauce.
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.
This is an interesting fun fact to share with the kids when you make this delicious homemade cranberry sauce:
Why do we eat cranberry sauce in Thanksgiving?
Michigan State University reports:
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.
CHECK THIS OUT FOR MORE FUN KIDS ACTIVITIES:
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Do your kids love can cranberry sauce recipes? Try this cranberry sauce with fresh orange juice!
Learning how to make cranberries sauce recipe is fun for kids because they get to listen for the cranberry pop!
(Plus, kids think that a cranberry sauce orange juice recipe is funny!)
Try these holiday children’s books for a Recipes and Reading Pairing
To go along with our best recipe for homemade cranberry sauce, read these books with your kids! Then, you can read the books and then learn how make cranberry sauce with your kids!
Enjoy this best recipe for cranberry sauce!