Easy Cranberry Sauce made with just four ingredients and about 15 minutes. Skip the canned sauce, make this flavorful fresh sauce instead!
No Holiday Dinner spread could be complete without a Side of delicious, bright and flavorful Cranberry Sauce! It’s the perfect condiment for your Roast Turkey and it’s so good you’ll want to save some for Leftover Turkey Sandwiches the next day.
If you are on the fence about cranberry sauce, it’s probably because you haven’t tasted a good homemade recipe yet! Seriously, there is such difference between canned sauce (or a bland recipe) and this quick, easy and tasty recipe will turn any skeptic into a die-hard Cranberry Sauce fan.
About our Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Everyone has seen the canned jellied version of cranberry sauce in the grocery store or spilled out onto a plate waiting to be sliced. It’s a no fuss, easy way to get it on your table but trust us that spending just a small amount of time to make it homemade is completely worth it. You only need 3 ingredients plus a bag of fresh cranberries to make a dish that will wow at your holiday feast.
Not only does fresh cranberry sauce taste so much better than canned sauce, it’s got a lovely texture too. It’s still thick but not jellied, instead it’s more of a fruit compote – like a cross between jam and fruit pie filling. It’s sweet, but not too sweet with a beautiful orange flavor to enhance the tart berries and fruity flavors. This delicious and easy cranberry sauce is made in about 15 minutes then it just needs to cool. Make it the morning of your holiday dinner and it will have plenty of time to thicken while you prepare the rest of your dishes.
Can I make Cranberry Sauce ahead of time?
Definitely! This side dish is perfect to make-ahead and not have to worry about when you’re trying to juggle all of the other holiday cooking. Once made, allow it to cool and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week. When ready to serve, you can choose whether to serve it cold, at room temperature or warm it up.
Easy Cranberry Sauce Ingredients
- Cranberries: Beautiful fresh cranberries are the star of this delicious homemade cranberry sauce recipe. You just need 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries to make this dish, although you might want to grab an extra bag or two to make multiple batches or one big batch since they are only available a few weeks of the year.
- Sugar: This sweet cranberry sauce has a full cup of sugar but don’t worry it’s not actually super sweet! Cranberries are naturally very tart and slightly bitter so you need a lot of sugar to balance that out. Also the sugar enhances the pectin content in fruit to help jams and compotes like cranberry sauce thicken. To add a little warmth and depth, this recipe uses brown sugar and white sugar so you get a hint of smoky caramel molasses flavor with the sweetness.
- Orange Juice: The only other ingredients you need to make cranberry sauce really delicious is some orange juice! For the best flavor, you should fresh squeeze the juice but if using store-bought juice, make sure it’s 100% juice and not concentrate and water or you won’t get a lot of that bold yummy orange flavor.
How to Make Cranberry Sauce
Time needed: 15 minutes.
- Dissolve the Sugar
Combine the orange juice, regular sugar and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring really well to dissolve the sugars.
- Cook the Cranberries
Stir the cranberries into the juice mixture and cook for 10-12 minutes. You only want to cook long enough for the cranberries to pop because it’s going to thicken as it cools.
- Cool the Sauce
Once the berries start popping, remove the pan from the heat and give it another good stir. Cool the cranberry sauce completely then transfer to your serving dish or storing in the fridge.
Cooking Cranberry Sauce Tips & Tricks
- Double or Triple the Recipe
- Fresh cranberries only come in season once a year but that doesn’t mean you can’t make big batches of cranberry sauce to enjoy long after the holiday season! To make it easy to use later in small amounts, freeze the sauce in ice cube trays. Pop out a cube or two and let the cranberry sauce thaw in the fridge before serving or using in recipes.
- Use Frozen Cranberries
- While fresh cranberries are absolutely delicious, you can definitely make this sauce all year round using frozen cranberries. Just heat them from frozen and add some more cooking time to reduce them down more otherwise your sauce could be runny.
What to Pair With Easy Cranberry Sauce
Drinks: For your holiday dinner, you can offer both red and white wine since both taste nice with the fruity, berry flavors of cranberry sauce. After dinner, a warm glass of Holiday Apple Cider or mulled wine will carry on the seasonal flavor.
Thanksgiving Dinner: Can you imagine a Thanksgiving meal without cranberry sauce? This tart side dish has been accompanying Roast Turkey on the holiday table right along side Easy Mashed Potatoes and Green Bean Casserole and this homemade version is sure to be a family favorite Thanksgiving Recipe you’ll pass down.
How to Store Cranberry Sauce
Store: Let the Cranberry Sauce cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Your sauce will stay good for about 2 weeks. To keep the sauce fresh longer, place plastic wrap under the lid.
Freeze: Cranberry Sauce freezes really well! Just make sure to cool it down completely before transferring to an airtight container so it doesn’t get ice crystals. Another way to prevent ice crystals is to press a piece of plastic wrap into the top of your sauce before adding the lid. Store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Ideas to Serve Easy Cranberry Sauce
Sweet: This delicious cranberry sauce doesn’t just have to be a condiment for holiday dinner! You can spoon this sweet cranberry sauce over Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert. In the morning, layer leftover cranberry sauce with yogurt and granola for an easy holiday breakfast.
Savory: You definitely want to save some fresh cranberry sauce for leftover turkey sandwiches, but it goes with other savory recipes too. Try it with a buttery Turkey Pot Pie, or use it instead of canned cranberry sauce in Cranberry Glazed Meatballs.
FAQ for Easy Cranberry Sauce
Yes, cranberry sauce freezes very well. If stored properly in a freezer safe container, it will last up to a couple of months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and give it a good stir before serving.
One of the stressors of hosting Thanksgiving or bringing a dish is making sure you have enough for everyone. You probably want to have extra to serve with leftovers too so with that in mind, you want to prepare 2 cups of cranberry sauce for every 4 guests attending.
- 12 ounces cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar , packed
- 1 cup orange juice
- Add the orange juice, sugar and brown sugar to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring well.
- Add in the cranberries and cook for 10-12 minutes until the start popping and barely start to thicken before removing from heat and letting cool completely.
Easy Cranberry Sauce Variations
Juice: Instead of orange juice, you can use apple juice, pomegranate juice, or grape juice. You could also do a blend of juices if you still want the orange flavor, just don’t use more than a cup of juice total or it might make the cranberry sauce runny.
Fruit: Why not add some fresh fruit to your cranberry compote mix? Use citrus fruit like orange or tangerine chopped up into small pieces. Apples, pears, or pineapples would all also make a delicious recipe.
Spices: For a little warmth, add some holiday spices to this recipe for cranberry sauce. You can simmer the sauce with a whole stick of cinnamon and whole cloves, then strain the cinnamon sticks and cloves before serving. Or make it easy and just use ground spices with a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg or even Pumpkin Pie Spice.
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