Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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This homemade cranberry sauce is a million times better than canned cranberry sauce! Made with fresh or frozen berries, it’s a simple and easy cranberry sauce recipe with a hint of orange flavor. Try it once, and you’ll never go back to canned again!

Homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a piece of cranberry cake behind

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

If all you’ve been eating during the holidays is canned cranberry sauce, then get ready for your life to change.

This is the best cranberry sauce recipe! It’s made with fresh cranberries, orange juice and zest, a touch of sugar, and rounded out with the addition of vanilla extract and cinnamon. It’s a simple and easy-to-make recipe that’s ready in a total of 15 minutes!

Serve it as a side dish for Christmas or Thanksgiving, as part of an appetizer, as a topping with dessert, you name it!

Fresh cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a gold spoon taking a scoop of sauce

🧾 What You’ll Need

Overhead shot of ingredients for homemade cranberry sauce

Ingredients

This simple recipe is made up of just 6 ingredients! (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)

  • Orange Zest and Orange Juice: you just need one large orange for both the zest and the juice.
  • Cranberries: I always use fresh cranberries but frozen will work as well.
  • Granulated Sugar: brown sugar will work as well.
  • Vanilla Extract and Ground Cinnamon: both the vanilla extract and the cinnamon add warmth and flavor depth which works to balance out the tartness of the cranberries. These are optional but they really add another layer of flavor that’s hard to beat!
Overhead shot of homemade cranberry sauce in a small white bowl with cranberry cake in the background

Equipment

You just need a couple basic pieces of equipment for this recipe to come together quickly and easily. (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)

  • Saucepan: I use a 3-quart saucepan which is plenty big to fit all of the ingredients. If you’re doubling or tripling the recipe, you’ll want to use a larger one.
  • Microplane: I find a microplane to be the easiest way to zest the orange. If you don’t have one, you can also use a cheese grater.
  • Citrus Juicer: a citrus juicer makes it so much easier to get all the juice out of the orange. You can hand-squeeze it, but it’s difficult to get the full amount.

📋 Instructions

This easy cranberry sauce recipe comes together in a total of 15 minutes! Full instructions are included in the recipe card down below.

Homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a gold spoon
  • Zest and juice one large orange. You’ll need 1/3 cup juice. If you don’t have quite enough, you can add water to supplement.
  • In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine zest, juice, cranberries, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  • Cook, stirring often, until the cranberries pop and the sauce is thickened.
  • Remove from heat and cool completely before serving.

Should Cranberry Sauce Be Hot or Cold?

Cranberry sauce is traditionally served cold or at room temperature. You can serve it hot, but it will have a slightly thinner consistency since it thickens as it cools.

Do You Use Fresh or Frozen Cranberries for Cranberry Sauce?

I typically use fresh cranberries because they have a little more bite once cooked. However, fresh cranberries will work just fine!

You can incorporate them into the sauce frozen but you may need to cook it slightly longer so the excess moisture can evaporate.

Homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a gold spoon sticking out

💭 Variations

This cranberry sauce is so good as it is, but here are a few different ways you can switch things up:

  • Use frozen cranberries. I prefer the texture of fresh cranberries, but frozen cranberries will work as well.
  • Play with consistency. I prefer a thicker, chunkier cranberry sauce so that’s how this recipe is made. However, if you prefer a thinner, more jam-like sauce, you can add up to 1 cup of orange juice and blend it instead.
  • Swap the sweetener. You can swap the granulated sugar out for brown sugar for a deeper, more caramel-y taste. You could also use maple syrup or honey to go a more natural route. Simply add to taste!
  • Add nuts. If you prefer a cranberry sauce with a little bit of crunch, try mixing in toasted or candied pecans or walnuts.
Close up of cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a gold spoonful of sauce hovering over bowl.

💡 Tips  

  • If you don’t have quite enough juice, you can add water to supplement.
  • Don’t skip the vanilla and cinnamon. These two ingredients are not completely necessary but they add so much delicious flavor.

Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions

Cranberry sauce is a great make-ahead recipe. You can make it ahead of time and store it for up to 1 week in the fridge.

Homemade cranberry sauce also freezes beautifully. Simply pack it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to serve, thaw it overnight in the fridge, then serve cold or bring to room temperature.

How to Serve Cranberry Sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a gold spoon and cranberry cake in the background

❤️ More Cranberry Recipes You’ll Love

Check out more of my delicious recipes using cranberries!

Leave a review!

If you make this recipe, let us know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on the recipe below, and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram @elabau, or use #sugarhero on IG!

Homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a gold spoon

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

5 from 4 votes
This homemade cranberry sauce is a million times better than canned cranberry sauce! Made with fresh or frozen berries, it's a simple and easy cranberry sauce recipe with a hint of orange flavor. Try it once, and you'll never go back to canned again! This recipe yields about 1 lb of sauce (1.75 cups) which is roughly 6 servings.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Yield 1.75 cups
Calories 59 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 TBSP Fresh Orange Zest, from 1 large orange
  • 2.6 fl oz Fresh Orange Juice, from 1 large orange
  • 12 oz Fresh Cranberries, (about 3 cups)
  • 7 oz granulated sugar, (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
CUSTOMIZE: 1.75 cups

Instructions
 

  • Zest orange and set zest aside.
  • Juice orange and measure out 2.6 fl oz of juice. Add water if not quite enough juice.
  • Combine zest, juice, cranberries, sugar, vanilla an cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens, abut 15-20 minutes. Once most of the cranberries have popped, remove pan from the heat and let it cool completely before using.

Recipe Notes

The cranberry filling can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

MEASURING TIPS

Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.

Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.

Nutrition

Calories: 59 kcal | Carbohydrates: 15 g | Protein: 1 g | Fat: 1 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g | Sodium: 1 mg | Potassium: 28 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 13 g | Vitamin A: 23 IU | Vitamin C: 5 mg | Calcium: 4 mg | Iron: 1 mg
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Elizabeth LaBau

About Elizabeth LaBau

I’m Elizabeth, but you can call me SugarHero! I’m a former pastry chef turned blogger, cookbook author, and baking instructor, and I consider myself sugar’s #1 fan. Learn more from my About page, or connect with me on social media:

What You'll Need
Editor's Note

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