Cranberry Sauce

This homemade cranberry sauce is classic. Made from fresh or frozen cranberries and ready in 20 minutes, it's a must-have for Thanksgiving dinner. Easy to make-ahead, too!

Classic Cranberry Sauce and in a serving bowl.
Elise Bauer

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.

Video: How to Make Cranberry Sauce

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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.

Side view of cranberry sauce homemade.
Elise Bauer

Cranberry Sauce Is Perfect with Thanksgiving Turkey

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!

Cranberry Sauce Swaps & Substitutions

  • Stir in any of the following at the end of cooking: pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.
  • For a a stronger orange flavor, decrease the amount of water in the recipe to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup orange juice.
  • For a reduced-sugar cranberry sauce, use half the amount of sugar called for, then taste and add more as needed. Also reduce the amount of water to 1/2 cup, adding more as needed if the sauce seems too thick.
  • To make sugar-free cranberry sauce, substitute a sugar replacer like Splenda or Truvia for the sugar.

How Far Ahead Can You Make Cranberry Sauce?

For the best consistency, make sure the cranberry sauce is thoroughly chilled before serving so it has time to set up. Making it the day before Thanksgiving gives it plenty of time to chill and saves you a task on the day itself.

You can make this cranberry sauce up to a week before serving.

How to Store & Freeze Cranberry Sauce

Refrigerate leftover cranberry sauce for up to 2 weeks. Or freeze the sauce for up to 6 months.

Love Cranberries? Try These Recipes!

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 9 servings
Yield 2 1/4 cups

The recipe calls for a cup of water. You can easily substitute that with 1/2 cup of orange juice and 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. If you use less sugar, reduce the amount of water you add as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (200g) sugar

  • 1 cup (250ml) water

  • 4 cups (one 12-ounce package) fresh or frozen cranberries

  • Optional: Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice

Method

  1. Rinse cranberries:

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

  2. Boil water with sugar:

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

    Sugar and water in the bottom of a pot to make a cranberry sauce recipe.
    Elise Bauer
    Sugar and water boiling in the bottom of a pot to make cranberry orange sauce.
    Elise Bauer
  3. Add cranberries, cook until they burst:

    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.

    Fresh cranberries simmering in a pot to make a cranberry sauce recipe.
    Elise Bauer
    Cranberries simmering in a stock pot to make cranberry sauce.
    Elise Bauer
  4. Stir in mix-ins, if using:

    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 a pinch or two 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. Let cool:

    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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
103 Calories
0g Fat
27g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 9
Amount per serving
Calories 103
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 5mg 26%
Calcium 4mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 31mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.