Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Perfectly balanced, this Fresh Cranberry Sauce is an amazing holiday side dish. Calling for a handful of ingredients, including fresh cranberries, orange and spices, this homemade cranberry sauce recipe makes enough for sharing and is ready in less than 15 minutes. Makes 6 servings, but can easily be doubled or tripled.

Love classic holiday side dishes? Check out Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole and Creamed Cornbread Casserole!

A casserole dish of cranberry orange sauce

Cranberry sauce and cranberry salad has been one of my all-time favorite holiday side dishes ever since I was a little kid.

I didn’t realize how easy homemade cranberry orange sauce was to make until I was an adult, though.

And then I was amazed at the simple preparation of this must-have holiday classic.

It’s simple, perfectly balanced between sweet and tart and just utterly perfect for pairing with any holiday entrée, whether you’re serving turkey or holiday honey ham.

Why I love this recipe

Simply put, this easy recipe calls for just a handful of ingredients, but they sing so beautifully together that it’s hard not to love.

Even my kids are into this recipe, which is saying something since the girls aren’t always into dishes that veer toward tart.

I can see this recipe being shared at Thanksgiving dinner, Friendsgiving or Christmas, and the best news is it’s ready in less than 30 minutes!

Other holiday recipes that involve cranberries: Citrus Cranberry Sangria | Cranberry Turkey Puff Pastry Tartlets | Cranberry Feta Brussels Sprout Salad with Candied Pecans and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette | Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney

Need holiday food inspiration? Be sure to swing by my Thanksgiving Recipe Index for tons of recipes!

Cranberries and other ingredients in bowls on towels

What you need to make this recipe

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Let’s talk ingredients!

In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fresh or frozen cranberries—do not use dried and sweetened cranberries, as those won’t give the texture or flavor we’re looking for in this recipe
  • Orange juice—freshly squeezed, if possible, but the bottled stuff works, too
  • Brown sugar—I like to use dark brown sugar because it has a greater depth of flavor, but light brown sugar works, too.
  • Orange zest—we’re just going to add a little bit of this to add extra orange pop to the sauce.
  • Spices—ground cinnamon and ginger add a little pop of warmth to our cranberries! If you like nutmeg, you could add a pinch of that, too.
Collage showing how to make fresh cranberry orange sauce

How to make Cranberry Sauce

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the cranberries.

Measure in the spices, orange juice, brown sugar and half of the zest. Stir them together.

Bring to a boil and cook until the cranberries have popped (watch out! they’ll be hot!). The sauce will begin thickening. This takes around 10 minutes, depending on how hot your stove gets and how evenly your pan cooks.

When the sauce has thickened, stir in the rest of the orange zest, and cook until it’s fragrant. This will take very little time.

Once the sauce is done, remove it from the saucepan, and transfer to a serving bowl.

You can serve it warm, cold or at room temperature on the holiday table!

Please note that you can make this homemade cranberry sauce recipe days in advance and keep it cool in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.

A spoon sits in a white casserole dish holding cranberry sauce

Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

There’s not much more quintessential than homemade cranberry sauce during the holidays, and I love this recipe for entertaining because it’s an easy win!

Not only is it delicious and bursting with cranberry flavor, but it’s ready in just a handful of minutes.

Here are a few tips and tricks for making this cranberry sauce recipe for a crowd:

  • Make it in advance. This Cranberry Orange Sauce can be served warm or cold, and it keeps well in the fridge. Cook it 3-4 days before your gathering, and keep it cool in the refrigerator until it’s serving time.
  • Double the recipe. If your people love cranberry sauce, you’ll definitely want to do this! This recipe never lasts long with my family because we adore the combination of sweet and tart.
  • Customize the spices. If you like nutmeg, add a pinch of that to this recipe. If you and your people like spiced rum, add a shot. (Or head on over to my Drunken Cranberry Sauce recipe to learn how to make that.)
A spoon holds a scoop of a homemade cranberry sauce recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

What spice goes well with cranberries?

Warming spices, like cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg, pair beautifully with cranberries.

How do you thicken homemade cranberry sauce?

This homemade cranberry sauce recipe thickens because of the combination of cranberry juices paired with the sugar. We want the cranberries to burst as they cook and release those juices and mingle with the sugar… and then cook off a little so the sauce gets sticky. 🙂 It will thicken as it cools.

How long will homemade cranberry sauce keep?

When stored in a food-safe storage container in the refrigerator, this spiced cranberry sauce can last for 5-7 days.

Close up of a casserole of cranberry sauce with the text homemade cranberry sauce

Quick tips and tricks for the best homemade cranberry sauce

  • Make it days in advance. This cranberry sauce recipe keeps well in the fridge, so make it early. Just keep it cool until it’s time to eat.
  • Double or triple the recipe. If you’re serving a lot of people or know your people love cranberry sauce, make extra. All you have to do is double the recipe and possibly use a larger saucepan to cook it in.
  • How to store: Take leftovers and place them in an airtight food storage container. It will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
  • How to freeze: Transfer the sauce into a freezer-safe, airtight food storage container. Freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before serving.
A casserole dish of cranberry orange sauce
Yield: 6 servings

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Perfectly balanced, this Fresh Cranberry Sauce is an amazing holiday side dish. Calling for a handful of ingredients, including fresh cranberries, orange and spices, this homemade cranberry sauce recipe makes enough for sharing and is ready in less than 15 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup (4.4 fl. oz.) orange juice
  • 1 cup (273 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest, divided

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, combine the cranberries with the orange juice, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and half of the orange zest.
  2. Heat over medium heat, and cook, bringing to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened.
  3. Add in the rest of the orange zest, and stir until fragrant, then remove from the heat.
  4. Serve warm or cold as a side dish at the holiday table.

Notes

How to store: Take leftovers and place them in an airtight food storage container. It will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

How to freeze: Transfer the sauce into a freezer-safe, airtight food storage container. Freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before serving.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 124Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 8mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 2gSugar: 26gProtein: 0g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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