Cranberry Orange Sauce

Cranberry Orange Sauce

The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
100 Calories
0g Fat
26g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 100
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 14mg 72%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 66mg 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.)

This fresh cranberry-orange sauce is quick and easy to prepare and cook, taking only 20 minutes from start to finish. This homemade cranberry sauce includes fresh orange juice and orange zest, adding some natural sweetness and a pop of citrus along with the sugar.

Cranberry sauce is an essential side for any Thanksgiving feast, as the tart and sweet flavors complement the savory, salty flavor of a classic roast turkey or baked ham. You don't have to wait for a holiday to enjoy this easy cranberry sauce—serve it with a Sunday roast or family dinner any time of the year. Fresh cranberries are available from mid-September to November, but frozen cranberries are an excellent alternative and are available year-round.

Serve the delicious sweet-tart sauce with a chicken or turkey dinner, ham, or pork. You can use leftover cranberry-orange sauce in many ways. Add some to a turkey sandwich or panini, or swirl a spoonful into your morning oatmeal. It's wonderful with yogurt as well.

"This cranberry sauce takes no time to whip up, and the orange is the perfect complement to really brighten up the cranberries. Once the sauce cools, it will gel up nicely, perfect for your Thanksgiving turkey. But save the leftovers—it would be delicious swirled into some vanilla ice cream for a real treat!" —Tracy Wilk

Cranberry Sauce
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice, from about 2 large oranges

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 3/4 cup sugar, or to taste

  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and picked over

  • 2 teaspoons orange zest

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Cranberry Orange Sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  2. Combine the orange juice, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves.

    Combine the orange juice, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  3. Add the cranberries and orange zest to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce, stirring frequently, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is thick.

    cranberries and orange zest added to the mixture in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  4. Let the cranberry-orange sauce cool to room temperature—it will thicken more as it cools. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until serving time.

    Cranberry Orange Sauce in a container

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg


  • If you like a less sweet sauce, make it with 1/2 cup of sugar and taste it after about 10 minutes. Add more sugar at that point, if necessary.
  • When rinsing the cranberries, discard any damaged, wrinkled, or bruised berries.
  • Note that the cranberry sauce will thicken greatly as it cools. If you want to make sure your cranberry sauce is extra thick, cook it for a few extra minutes to let more of the juice evaporate.
  • You can make this recipe ahead of time for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other meal. Since cranberry sauce is best when served at room temperature or cold, there's no need to reheat it for serving.
  • Because the cranberries and orange are acidic, cook the sauce in a nonreactive pan, such as stainless steel or an enamel-lined pan.

Recipe Variations

  • Add a cinnamon stick or about 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the simmering cranberry-orange sauce.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of minced candied ginger or 2 teaspoons of fresh minced ginger.
  • Instead of granulated sugar, make the cranberry sauce with 1/2 to 2/3 cup of pure maple syrup.
  • For more concentrated orange flavor, decrease the sugar to 1/2 cup, omit the water, and use 1 cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice.

How to Use Leftover Cranberry-Orange Sauce

How to Store Cranberry Orange Sauce

  • Store leftover cranberry-orange sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • To freeze, transfer the cranberry-orange sauce to an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight.

Do you serve cranberry sauce hot or cold?

Cranberry sauce can be served hot, cold, warm, or room temperature. If you prefer your cranberry sauce hot or warm, heat it in the microwave or in a saucepan just before serving.