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This homemade cranberry sauce is a million times better than canned cranberry sauce! Made with fresh or frozen berries, it’s a simple and easy cranberry sauce recipe with a hint of orange flavor. Try it once, and you’ll never go back to canned again!
Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe
If all you’ve been eating during the holidays is canned cranberry sauce, then get ready for your life to change.
This is the best cranberry sauce recipe! It’s made with fresh cranberries, orange juice and zest, a touch of sugar, and rounded out with the addition of vanilla extract and cinnamon. It’s a simple and easy-to-make recipe that’s ready in a total of 15 minutes!
🧾 What You’ll Need
This simple recipe is made up of just 6 ingredients! (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)
- Orange Zest and Orange Juice: you just need one large orange for both the zest and the juice.
- Cranberries: I always use fresh cranberries but frozen will work as well.
- Granulated Sugar: brown sugar will work as well.
- Vanilla Extract and Ground Cinnamon: both the vanilla extract and the cinnamon add warmth and flavor depth which works to balance out the tartness of the cranberries. These are optional but they really add another layer of flavor that’s hard to beat!
You just need a couple basic pieces of equipment for this recipe to come together quickly and easily. (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)
- Saucepan: I use a 3-quart saucepan which is plenty big to fit all of the ingredients. If you’re doubling or tripling the recipe, you’ll want to use a larger one.
- Microplane: I find a microplane to be the easiest way to zest the orange. If you don’t have one, you can also use a cheese grater.
- Citrus Juicer: a citrus juicer makes it so much easier to get all the juice out of the orange. You can hand-squeeze it, but it’s difficult to get the full amount.
This easy cranberry sauce recipe comes together in a total of 15 minutes! Full instructions are included in the recipe card down below.
- Zest and juice one large orange. You’ll need 1/3 cup juice. If you don’t have quite enough, you can add water to supplement.
- In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine zest, juice, cranberries, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
- Cook, stirring often, until the cranberries pop and the sauce is thickened.
- Remove from heat and cool completely before serving.
Should Cranberry Sauce Be Hot or Cold?
Cranberry sauce is traditionally served cold or at room temperature. You can serve it hot, but it will have a slightly thinner consistency since it thickens as it cools.
Do You Use Fresh or Frozen Cranberries for Cranberry Sauce?
I typically use fresh cranberries because they have a little more bite once cooked. However, fresh cranberries will work just fine!
You can incorporate them into the sauce frozen but you may need to cook it slightly longer so the excess moisture can evaporate.
This cranberry sauce is so good as it is, but here are a few different ways you can switch things up:
- Use frozen cranberries. I prefer the texture of fresh cranberries, but frozen cranberries will work as well.
- Play with consistency. I prefer a thicker, chunkier cranberry sauce so that’s how this recipe is made. However, if you prefer a thinner, more jam-like sauce, you can add up to 1 cup of orange juice and blend it instead.
- Swap the sweetener. You can swap the granulated sugar out for brown sugar for a deeper, more caramel-y taste. You could also use maple syrup or honey to go a more natural route. Simply add to taste!
- Add nuts. If you prefer a cranberry sauce with a little bit of crunch, try mixing in toasted or candied pecans or walnuts.
- If you don’t have quite enough juice, you can add water to supplement.
- Don’t skip the vanilla and cinnamon. These two ingredients are not completely necessary but they add so much delicious flavor.
Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions
Cranberry sauce is a great make-ahead recipe. You can make it ahead of time and store it for up to 1 week in the fridge.
Homemade cranberry sauce also freezes beautifully. Simply pack it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to serve, thaw it overnight in the fridge, then serve cold or bring to room temperature.
How to Serve Cranberry Sauce
- Side dish. Serve this cranberry sauce as a side dish with your Thanksgiving or Christmas feast.
- Appetizer. Pair your cranberry sauce with crackers and your favorite cheese as part of a holiday charcuterie board. You can also serve it as a spread on turkey sliders for a holiday finger food for a party.
- Topping. Slather this cranberry sauce on your favorite muffins, biscuits, or mix it into frosting and use it on vanilla or chocolate cupcakes or orange bundt cake.
- Dessert. Use it in this orange mousse recipe or swap the blueberry filling and raspberry ganache out for cranberry sauce in my blueberry toasted coconut tart or my chocolate raspberry tarts.
❤️ More Cranberry Recipes You’ll Love
Check out more of my delicious recipes using cranberries!
- Apple Cranberry Gouda Puff Pastry Roses
- Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding
- Cranberry Curd Almond Cake
- Brown Sugar Cranberry Cake
- Cranberry Orange Trifle
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 1 TBSP Fresh Orange Zest, from 1 large orange
- 2.6 fl oz Fresh Orange Juice, from 1 large orange
- 12 oz Fresh Cranberries, (about 3 cups)
- 7 oz granulated sugar, (about 1 cup)
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Zest orange and set zest aside.
- Juice orange and measure out 2.6 fl oz of juice. Add water if not quite enough juice.
- Combine zest, juice, cranberries, sugar, vanilla an cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens, abut 15-20 minutes. Once most of the cranberries have popped, remove pan from the heat and let it cool completely before using.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
About Elizabeth LaBau
I’m Elizabeth, but you can call me SugarHero! I’m a former pastry chef turned blogger, cookbook author, and baking instructor, and I consider myself sugar’s #1 fan. Learn more from my About page, or connect with me on social media: