Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce

The Spruce / Leah Maroney

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
104 Calories
0g Fat
27g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 104
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 23g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 17mg 86%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 77mg 2%
*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.)

Cranberry sauce is a must for any Thanksgiving meal—it pairs perfectly with turkey as well as the traditional sides. Sweet and tart with a bright red hue, it's tasty in its own right. And while it appears every late November, it's also delicious alongside roasted chicken, pork, and ham any time of year.

As you're simmering the cranberries for this cranberry sauce, you'll start to hear a popping sound. This is good—it means the berries are bursting and releasing their natural fiber called pectin, which will thicken the cranberry sauce as you simmer it.

While you can always pick up a can of cranberry sauce at the store, it's incredibly easy to make at home and the flavor is so much better. Plus, you can customize the sweetness and flavor to your liking. Cranberry sauce can be made up to a day or two ahead of time, making it ideal for planning ahead for your Thanksgiving meal.

“I forgot how much I love a great cranberry sauce recipe, and this is one of them. Cranberries and orange juice are a great combination. I only added 1/2 cup granulated sugar because I enjoy cranberry sauce on the tart side. I won’t be waiting for the holidays to roll around before making this again.” —Diana Andrews

Cranberry Sauce/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries, about 4 cups

  • 1 cup orange juice

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. If you are using fresh cranberries, thoroughly rinse them. Sort through the fresh or frozen cranberries and discard any that are crinkled, black, or otherwise not up to par.

    cranberries in a colander
     The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  3. Next, combine the orange juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.​

    Juice and sugar in a saucepan
     The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  4. Stir in the cranberries and return to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer. Gently stir occasionally until all the berries have popped, about 20 minutes.​

    cranberry sauce cooking in a pot
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney
  5. Remove from heat and use the remaining sugar to sweeten the cranberry sauce to your liking.​ You can serve the sauce warm, but let it cool for several minutes to thicken a bit. For a thicker cranberry sauce, cool and then chill in the fridge.

    cranberry sauce with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

Tips

  • If you're using frozen cranberries there's no need to thaw them beforehand.
  • Leftover cranberry sauce has a variety of fun uses. Spread it on a sandwich; use it to top pancakes or crepes; garnish a slice of cake; layer it in a holiday trifle; swirl it into yogurt or labneh, and more.

Recipe Variations

  • Some like a slightly tart cranberry sauce, so in this recipe, you add half the sugar at the start and sweeten to taste when it's finished cooking. Feel free to use more sugar if you like a sweeter cranberry sauce.
  • For a less pronounced orange flavor, use half OJ and half water.
  • Swap some or all of the sugar for brown sugar for a slightly caramelized flavor.
  • Add lemon or orange zest for an aromatic citrus note.
  • Add a pinch or two of cinnamon for a little spice.
  • Toss in a handful of toasted pecans at the end for some texture.
  • Swap the sugar with a cup-for-cup sugar substitute to make it added-sugar-free.

How to Store

  • Cranberry sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  • We don't recommend freezing cranberry sauce since it can affect the texture.

How do you spice up canned cranberry sauce?

To add a little freshness to canned cranberry sauce, add a squeeze or two of fresh citrus juice and/or finely grated zest. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon for a bit of spice. You can also stir in some fresh raspberries or chopped apple for crunch.

How do you thicken cranberry sauce?

If cranberry sauce is cooked enough (until the berries pop), the pectin in the fruit will cause it to naturally thicken. It will continue to thicken as it cools, so if your sauce isn't as thick as you'd like, chill it for an hour or two. If your sauce is still watery, try reheating it and adding a slurry of cornstarch and water and cooking until it thickens.