Cranberry Sauce

Do you like cranberry sauce? My father can’t get enough of it during the holiday season. He’ll even stock up on fresh cranberries when they become available in late October, and freeze them to eat all year long.

I think he looks forward to Thanksgiving just because he knows he can have as much cranberry sauce as he wants with his slices of turkey, and plenty leftover for turkey sandwiches.

When he finally runs out of frozen cranberries sometime in May, he’ll start buying the cans. He’ll hide the cans in a remote corner of the pantry and eat up the canned cranberries all by himself. Yes, he’s a little obsessed.

Cranberry Sauce

For me it’s been an acquired taste. As a kid I just couldn’t understand why something so beautifully garnet colored didn’t taste like berry pie filling! Cranberries are tart, very tart, and need sugar to balance their tartness. But even with the sugar, the tartness comes through. As an adult, I have come to love cranberry sauce in all forms, including a cranberry relish that you don’t even have to cook.

Cranberries are absolutely perfect with turkey. Sort of like lemons and chicken. Something about the flavors, they’re just made for each other. Which is why the sauce is so good to spread over turkey in your leftover turkey sandwiches.

The following is a simple and easy recipe for cranberry sauce, one that you can easily dress up with extras. If you have a favorite way of making yours, please let us know about it in the comments!

Updated from the recipe archive, first posted 2005.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Cranberry sauce base makes 2 1/4 cups.

The recipe calls for a cup of water. You can easily substitute that with 1/2 cup of orange juice 1/2 cup of water if you want to increase the orange note in the sauce (cranberries and oranges play well together!)

You can also reduce the sugar if you want. Start out with half as much and add more if you think it needs it.



  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Optional Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.


1 Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse them. Pick out and discard any damaged or bruised cranberries.

2 Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

cranberry-sauce-method-1 cranberry-sauce-method-2

3 Add the cranberries to the pot and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst.

cranberry-sauce-method-3 cranberry-sauce-method-4

4 Once the cranberries have burst you can leave the cranberry sauce as is, or dress it up with other ingredients. We like to mix in a half a cup of chopped pecans with a few strips of orange zest.

Some people like adding raisins or currants, or even blueberries for added sweetness. You can also add holiday spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice. If adding spices, start with a pinch of each and add more to your taste.

5 Remove the pot from heat. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator. Note that the cranberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

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Cranberry Sauce

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Showing 4 of 170 Comments

  • Reginae

    I’m probably the only college student out there who actually takes the time to make real cranberry sauce the old fashioned way like this =P

    Raisins and cinnamon — great suggestion. I’m going to try that next time!

  • Bea

    In France, we eat cranberry sauce with game meat rather than turkey, so it is interesting for me to know that this is a sauce that goes with turkey too.

  • vanessa

    everyone’s got their must-have food. at least your dad makes his from scratch and resorts to the canned stuff when it runs out.

    my dad’s still got this thing for Carl’s Jr. He eats it EVERYDAY. It was momentous occasion when he came home with Wendy’s.

    btw, i forgot to mention–how cool that all the bay area bloggers got together! good conversation, fo sho. Oh, and thanks for listing me on your link site :) Cheers!

  • Ole Aioli

    Substituting OJ for the water is nice – a little oomph without overwhelming.

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