The perfect combination of flavors, this Homemade Cranberry Sauce is so quick and easy to make, that you’re going to want to skip the store bought version this holiday season! Made with one a handful of ingredients, you'll be reaching for seconds!
Have you ever had a homemade cranberry sauce? While it may be easy to grab a can off the shelves this season in a hurry, I promise you that making your own is totally worth the effort! And when I say effort, I really mean you just have to stir a pot a couple of times and you’re all set! You’re not going to believe just how easy it is and how little time it takes!
Cranberry sauce is one of the few things we don’t like to skip in our holiday dinners. It’s made with only five simple ingredients and always tastes so fresh when made from scratch. The secret? We cook ours with some orange juice and orange zest. This brings out this wonderful zesty bright flavor to it that you just can’t get from a can!
Why You’ll Love this Best Cranberry Sauce recipe
- It’s adjustable. If you like your cranberry sauce to be sweeter, you can add more sugar. If you like it more tart, add less! Want it to be thicker? Add less liquid. Want it to be thinner? Add more! You’ll have cranberry sauce just the way you and your family loves it.
- It’s quick and easy. It’s something that you can quickly whip together while the rest of your meal is in the oven. There aren’t even that many dishes to wash up after it.
- You can make it ahead of time. If you’re worried about the time, you can always make this cranberry sauce ahead of time!
What You’ll Need to make cranberry sauce from scratch.
- Orange juice
- Orange zest or peel
- Sugar - or honey if you prefer
- Cinnamon stick
How to Make The Best Cranberry Sauce
- Prepare your ingredients - Combine the orange juice, orange peel, cinnamon stick, and sugar in a small pan.
- Bring it to a boil - then lower the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer - Add in the cranberries and simmer until the cranberries pop, around 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Let thicken before serving- Let the cranberry sauce cool and thicken on its own for 20-30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and orange peels before serving.
How to Pick Fresh Cranberries
- Give them a squeeze! They should be firm when you squeeze them. You don't want soft cranberries.
- Give them a bounce. While you shouldn’t throw cranberries around at the grocery store, ripe cranberries will have a bounce to them!
- Check the color. Fresh cranberries are deep red and shiny. Skip the ones with brown spots or discoloration.
How to Make Fresh Cranberry Sauce Ahead of Time
Prepare sauce as directed. After your cranberry sauce has cooled, store it in an airtight container in your fridge. Homemade cranberry sauce will keep for 10 days when stored correctly. Reheat on the stove when ready to serve.
Can I Use Frozen Cranberries for Cranberry Sauce?
Yes you can! You can cook the cranberries straight from frozen in the pot. You’ll have to add a little more time to simmer but other than that, everything else is the same.
When cranberries are on sale and in season, we like to pick some up for later. If you want to freeze your own cranberries to make cranberry sauce later, simply place them in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze for 2-4 hours. When frozen, transfer them into an airtight freezer bag and store in the freezer until ready to use.
Is Cranberry sauce served hot or cold?
Cranberry sauce can be served at room temperature or chilled before serving.
Can I freeze Cranberry sauce?
Cranberry sauce can be frozen for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating on the stove. You’ll have to simmer the sauce a little longer if it had been frozen as it might be a bit more liquidly than if you had only stored it in the fridge.
Is Cranberry sauce supposed to be sweet?
Yes, cranberries can tend to be a bit sour so they need to be sweetened with some sort of a sweetener. Regular sugar, maple syrup, honey or a non-calorie sweetener if you prefer that, would be the most ideal for the recipe.
How do you thicken cranberry sauce?
If you feel like you messed up somewhere and have a very loose sauce, you can thicken up the mixture by adding a tsp. of cornstarch that's been mixed with a little bit of water.
Cranberry Sauce Variations
Here are some minor tweaks to the recipe that you might like!
- Swap regular sugar for brown sugar.
- Swap orange juice with water if you don't have any.
- Use store bought orange juice if you don't want to use fresh orange juice.
- Swap sugar with honey.
- Add in vanilla extract.
- Add some fresh herbs.
I personally like to just keep the recipe with the 3 main ingredients to preserve the flavor of the cranberries. Cinnamon stick and orange peel jazz up the flavor without giving an overpowering taste.
Here are some ideas of what to do with leftover cranberry sauce:
- Spread over toast, waffles, or pancakes
- Serve warm over ice cream
- Spread on a turkey sandwich
- Serve with some rotisserie chicken.
- Use it for a cheese board
- Put it on cheesecake
- Add it to yogurt parfaits
Looking for More Holiday Recipes?
If you need more holiday recipes, here are some of my favorites!
- Easy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
- Easy Dinner Rolls
- Easy Mashed Potatoes
I hope you enjoy all the recipes I share with you, including this delicious Cranberry Sauce recipe. I hope you try it, enjoy it, rate it and share it with your friends and family!
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Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 12 oz. cranberries
- 1 cup orange juice
- ¾ cup cane sugar or honey if you prefer
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2-3 pieces orange peel
- Combine the orange juice, orange peel, cinnamon and sugar in a sauce pan. Mix combine.
- Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.
- Add in the cranberries and simmer until the cranberries pop, around 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Let the cranberry sauce cool and thicken on its own for 20-30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and orange peel before serving.
- Store cranberry sauce in an airtight container in the fridge to preserve well.
- When buying fresh cranberries, press and make sure they are firm. You do not want them to be soft.
- Taste to adjust the cranberry sauce before serving.
- Let the cranberry sauce cool for 20-30 minutes before serving.