Home / Seasonal & Holiday Recipes / Thanksgiving Recipes / Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This post contains links to affiliate websites, such as Amazon, and we receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you using these links. We appreciate your support!

Put down the can of cranberry sauce and slowly back away! Instead, make this easy, 5-ingredient, fresh homemade cranberry sauce recipe from scratch with whole cranberries and freshly squeezed orange juice and zest. The perfect addition to your holiday table alongside the roasted delicata squash and brussels sprouts, cornbread and bacon stuffing, and buttery cornbread.

Brightly colored cranberry sauce in a white bowl topped with cranberries and rosemary sprigs in front of half an orange

Every holiday in my family centered around cranberry sauce for me. All I needed was a can of that jellied fruit and sugar and a spoon to be happy. You could have taken away all of the rest of the food at the table and I couldn't have cared less – as long as I had my cranberry sauce.

As I grew older, I came to realize I could probably afford to go homemade and try something new. That's not to say that I don't sometimes pick up a can just for nostalgia's sake – because I do.

Close up of brightly colored cranberry sauce in a white bowl topped with cranberries and rosemary sprigs

But the point is that for the special occasions where a family gathers to feast, they could use a little home-cooked lovin' instead of fruit in a can that comes out with ridges and makes a slurping sound when it's plated.

You know exactly what I'm talking about.

Ingredients for homemade cranberry sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup orange juice, no pulp – freshly squeezed is best
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup sugar, or honey (can use less based on taste preferences)
  • 1-12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries, set a handful aside as garnish, optional
  • Rosemary sprigs, optional
Four photo collage showing how to zest and juice and orange

How to make homemade cranberry sauce

  • Zest one orange. Make sure your orange has been washed and dried, then use a microplane zester or grater to remove only the orange outer colored portion of the peel. Zesting further than that will penetrate the white pith, which has a bitter taste.
  • After you're done zesting, slice the orange in half.
  • Hold one of the orange halves tightly and squeeze it by hand, or use an orange juicer (aff link) to get all the juice out.
  • You want 1/4 cup orange juice – depending on the size of your orange, you may need to use the other half of the orange as well.
Four photo collage showing how to cook cranberry sauce
  • In a medium saucepan, add water, orange juice, orange zest and sugar.
  • Stir frequently over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, a minute or two.
  • Gently add cranberries.
  • Bring to a boil.
Four photo collage showing how to simmer cranberries for cranberry sauce
  • Reduce heat and simmer.
  • Stir frequently until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. If you'd prefer the sauce to have less whole cranberry chunks, use a potato masher about halfway through the cooking time to smash them more for a somewhat smoother sauce.
  • It will still have lumps of the cranberries, and that's what you want!
  • Remove from heat and store in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

Prepare for cranberry splatter!

Oh, also – I recommend putting paper towels around your spoon rest and wearing an apron and/or clothes you don't mind getting a little cranberry splatter on because cranberry juice splatters and can stain if you're not careful!

Cranberry sauce covered spoon rest on a paper towel

Can I use frozen cranberries?

Absolutely! I always have at least one bag of fresh cranberries that I've tossed in the freezer for later use, and this is the perfect use for them. You don't need to thaw them, just pour them right into the saucepan from frozen.

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

Surprisingly (at least to me), yes! It actually freezes really well.

Once it's chilled in the fridge for a few hours, transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container or bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Defrost in the fridge overnight when you're ready to dig in!

Spoonful of brightly colored cranberry sauce above a white bowl and orange half

Homemade, but make it can-shaped

But if you're really feeling nostalgic, you could pour the freshly made, still warm cranberry sauce into an aluminum can to chill. Then you can plop it out onto a plate and slice it up. The choice is yours.

Make a double batch of cranberry sauce

I'd highly recommend making two batches of this – one for the dinner table, and another for my cranberry fluff.

Kids love it, and frankly… well, so do I.

Brightly colored cranberry sauce in a white bowl topped with cranberries and rosemary sprigs

I just know that after you've tried making your own cranberry sauce from scratch you'll never want to go back to the canned stuff.

Leaving a comment and star rating is a great (and free) way to support Stress Baking! ❤️ After you've made this recipe, please consider clicking on the stars below and leaving a comment to share your experience!

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

5 from 1 vote
Put down the can of cranberry sauce and slowly back away! Instead, make this easy, 5-ingredient, homemade cranberry sauce recipe with whole cranberries and freshly squeezed orange juice and zest. The perfect addition to your holiday table!
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings (about 2 cups)

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup orange juice, no pulp – freshly squeezed is best (about 1 whole orange)
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup honey, or granulated sugar (can use less based on taste preferences)
  • 1-12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries (fresh or frozen), set a handful aside as garnish, optional
  • Rosemary sprigs, optional

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, add water, orange juice, orange zest and sweetener of choice. Stir frequently over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, a minute or two.
    1 cup (236 ⅗ g) water
    1/4 cup (62 g) orange juice
    Zest of one orange
    1 cup (200 g) honey
  • Gently add cranberries and bring to a boil.
    1-12 ounce (28 ⅓ g) bag of fresh cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. It will still have lumps of the cranberries, and that's what you want!
  • Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, then transfer the sauce in a heatproof bowl. Chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
  • When you're ready to serve, just use a fork to stir and break it up a little bit, then garnish with fresh whole cranberries, orange zest, and/or rosemary sprigs. Enjoy!
    Rosemary sprigs

Video

Notes

Prepare for cranberry splatter: The cranberries might pop while they're cooking, so I recommend wearing an apron and/or clothes you don't mind getting a little cranberry splatter on!
Smoother cranberry sauce: If you'd prefer the sauce to have less whole cranberry chunks, use a potato masher about halfway through the cooking time to smash them more for a somewhat smoother sauce.
Using frozen cranberries:  You don't need to thaw them, just pour them right into the saucepan from frozen.
Freezing: Once it's chilled in the fridge for a few hours, transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container or bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight when you're ready to dig in!

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 40mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 33IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition Disclaimer

The provided nutrition information is generated by an automatic API and does not take variations across specific brands into account. This information is provided as a general guideline and should not be treated as official calculations. Learn more here.

Recipe created by Leslie Kiszka

This post was originally published in December 2013 and was updated for clarity and new photos in October 2019. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




3 Comments