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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is incredibly easy to make using just 4 simple ingredients. It’s naturally sweetened and is a nice, fresh alternative to storebought.

bowl of homemade cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce is best known for its sweet-tart flavor and is most commonly eaten at Thanksgiving. Unlike the majority of Thanksgiving foods, the cranberries’ ruby red hue adds a splash of color to the plate.

Homemade vs Store-Bought Cranberry Sauce

If you live in the U.S., you know about the infamous canned cranberry sauce with its weird gelatinous cylinder shape that leaves you feeling like you’re about to eat a science project.

Storebought cranberry sauce is loaded with high fructose corn syrup making it an overly sweet condiment. Many recipes call for heaps of sugar, but I like to still be able to taste some of the tartness from the cranberries.

So, this cranberry sauce recipe uses a fraction of the sweetness yet still tastes incredible. Plus, it’s so easy and quick to make that you have no excuse but to make your own!

Fresh cranberries up close

Ingredients

  • Fresh cranberries – fresh are best, but frozen will work too. If using frozen, no need to thaw them first, you can just chuck them right into the pot.
  • Maple syrup – adds sweetness and pairs well with the other flavors.
  • Fresh orange juice – adds brightness, helps to balance the flavors, and adds more dimension.
  • Ground cinnamon – adds a warm, earthy flavor.
  • Pinch of salt – balances out the sweetness.

How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Step 1. Add your fresh cranberries to a colander, rinse well, and drain off any excess water. Sift through the cranberries, discarding any squishy berries.

colander full of fresh cranberries
squishy fresh cranberries

Step 3. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook stirring often until the cranberries have popped open and the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.

Step 2. In a medium saucepan, bring the fresh cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice, ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to a boil over medium-high heat.

Step 4. Remove from the heat and let the cranberry sauce come to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge to chill for several hours before serving.

Make It Your Way: Ingredient Substitutions

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make this homemade cranberry sauce using what you already have? Here are some ideas

  • No fresh cranberries? – you can also use frozen (no need to thaw), but you may need to simmer the sauce for an extra 1-2 minutes since frozen fruit releases more liquid when cooking.
  • No maple syrup? – feel free to use honey.
  • No orange juice? – apple juice or apple cider also works well.

How to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

fresh cranberry sauce with orange zest

How to Store

Once the cranberry sauce has cooled down to room temperature, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

Helpful Tips

Avoid cooking longer than 15 minutes or the natural pectin in the cranberries will start to break down and the sauce won’t set as well.

Make it ahead. If you’re making this homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving or Christmas and you have a million other things to do, you can make this sauce ahead of time.

Make a double batch. Especially if you’re feeding a big crowd. It’s such a big hit and it’s always nice to enjoy with leftovers.

More Homemade Condiments

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

5 from 2 votes
bowl of homemade cranberry sauce
This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is incredibly easy to make using just 4 simple ingredients. It's naturally sweetened and is a nice, fresh alternative to storebought.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Serving Size 2 cups

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Add your fresh cranberries to a colander, rinse well, and drain off any excess water. Sift through the cranberries, discarding any squishy berries.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the fresh cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice, ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook stirring often until the cranberries have popped open and the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and let the cranberry sauce come to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge to chill for several hours before serving.

Notes

See the blog post for helpful tips and ideas on how to use leftover cranberry sauce.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

No fresh cranberries? – you can also use frozen (no need to thaw), but you may need to simmer the sauce for an extra 1-2 minutes since frozen fruit releases more liquid when cooking.
No maple syrup? – feel free to use honey.
No orange juice? – apple juice or apple cider also works well.

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