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Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

It’s time to make cranberry sauce using fresh cranberries! Once you’ve made the real thing and discover how much tastier it is than the canned stuff, you’ll never go back. Plus it couldn’t be simpler!

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Why Make Cranberry Sauce From Scratch

If you’ve ever tasted the difference between cranberry sauce made from fresh cranberries and the canned version, you already know why it’s worth the very small amount of effort. It’s only three ingredients: fresh cranberries, sugar, and some type of liquid (you could even use water)!

The texture is so much more pleasing than the gelatinous “sauce” from a can, and you truly can’t beat the flavor of fresh cranberries.

How To Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

All you need to do to make homemade cranberry sauce is dissolve some sugar in liquid. In this case, we use orange juice, but you could use cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, or even water.

Once the sugar is dissolved, simply add fresh cranberries and cook until they’ve all mostly burst, about 10 minutes. Then just pour it into a small serving bowl and pop it in the refrigerator until it cools completely. It thickens as it cools, so there’s truly nothing more you need to do!

Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce

Not only can you make it ahead of time, it’s actually a good idea to do so. It will thicken as it chills in the fridge, so feel free to make it the day before you’re serving it.

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

Cranberry sauce freezes surprisingly well. Make sure to store it in an airtight freezer container and it’ll last for up to 6 months in the freezer (possibly longer, but this is the longest we’ve tested it).

Before serving, just take it out the day before and pop it into the refrigerator to thaw.


  • Instead of orange juice, try cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, pineapple juice, or even plain water.
  • Add orange zest for a stronger orange flavor.
  • Add some chopped fresh fruit, such as apples, pears, or oranges.
  • Add a pinch of cinnamon; more to taste.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of Grand Marnier!
  • Once it’s finished cooking and has cooled .slightly, stir in some chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts.
  • Stir in a couple tablespoons of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers. This makes a fantastic sauce for grilled chicken!

How to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

We rarely have leftover cranberry sauce in our house after the holidays, but if we do, here are a few ways I use it:

  • As a sauce over chicken: We like a bit of spice, so I’ll add some adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers, or some chopped jalapeños. I’ll warm it, thin it slightly (if it needs it), then spoon it over chicken.
  • On a sandwich: Mix it with a little mayo for a creamy condiment, or just spread it on as-is.
  • Serve it with cheese and crackers – especially brie!
  • Add it to your yogurt for a deliciously different breakfast twist.
  • Blend it into a smoothie for a tasty and nutritious snack.
  • Use it over pancakes!
  • Mix it with softened butter and spread it on toast.
  • Slather crostini with goat cheese and a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce.
  • Mix some into your favorite barbecue sauce – trust me on this one.
  • As a topping for cheesecake or ice cream. YUM!!

See our Thanksgiving and Christmas Recipes!

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Yield: 10-12 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This cranberry sauce is easy to make with just three ingredients and a few simple steps.  It's a must-have for Thanksgiving or any holiday dinner.


  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice (or water)


    1. Heat the orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar. Stirring frequently, heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

    2. Add the cranberries and continue stirring frequently until they've all burst, about 10 minutes.

    3. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Pour it into your serving bowl, cover, and chill until you're ready to serve.

Try these other delicious holiday sides!

Kristy Bernardo
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