Best Cranberry Sauce Recipe

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You’ll never eat cranberry sauce from a can again after making my homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe! It’s the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever taste.

Homemade cranberry sauce served in white bowl.

The addition of fresh orange juice and peel take the flavor of this cranberry sauce to a whole new level! Even cranberry sauce haters love this simple recipe.

And while the flavor is so much better than any other cranberry sauce I’ve tried before, it’s incredibly easy to make with only a handful of ingredients. It’s the best cranberry sauce recipe to serve with your Thanksgiving meal!


  • 16 ounces of fresh cranberries
  • ⅔ cup of orange juice
  • ⅔ cup of water
  • ¾ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 large slice of orange peel
  • Pinch of sea salt


  • Measuring cups
  • Paring knife
  • Medium saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Serving dish
  • Storage container

By the Numbers: How to Make Cranberry Sauce

Follow these simple step by step instructions to learn how to make your own cranberry sauce and you’ll never eat the canned stuff again!

Step 1: Gather Ingredients.

The first thing you want to do is measure out your ingredients and have everything ready to go because this recipe comes together quickly.

Ingredients to make cranberry sauce: Water, fresh cranberries, orange juice, orange peel, sugar and salt.

Step 2: Dissolve Sugar.

After you have your ingredients ready, add ¾ cup white sugar and ⅔ cup water to a medium saucepan and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Sugar dissolved in water in saucepan with whisk.

Step 3: Add Cranberries, Orange and Salt.

Once the sugar is dissolved into the water, add 16 ounces of cranberries, ⅔ cup of orange juice (we prefer pulp free), 1-2 large slices of orange rind and a pinch of salt to your saucepan and mix together with a heavy wooden spoon.

Fresh cranberries, orange juice, orange peel and sea salt added to sugar water in saucepan.

Step 4: Simmer Until Cranberries Pop.

Bring all of your ingredients to a simmer and continue cooking until most of the whole berries have popped (you will hear them popping).

Cranberries popping in a saucepan to make cranberry sauce.

Step 5: Cook to a Jam-Like Consistency.

Once most of the cranberries are popped, turn the burner down to a lower heat, stir to break down the cranberries and keep cooking, stirring frequently, until it has thickened and reached a loose jam-like consistency.

It usually takes about 10-15 minutes for me (it may take more or less for you, so keep an eye on it).

Cooked cranberry sauce in saucepan on stove.

Step 6: Chill then Serve.

Once you’re happy with the consistency, throw away the orange peel, then chill your cranberry sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve. When you’re ready to serve, transfer the finished sauce to a nice serving dish.

Homemade cranberry sauce in white serving bowl with spoon.

Tips for Making Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Answers to your questions about making this fresh cranberry sauce recipe from scratch.

How much to make per guest?

This is where it depends on the crowd. If your guests only use cranberry sauce as a garnish, you may be able to scrape by with ¼ cup per guest. If they like to eat it as a side, I recommend making ½ cup per guest.

If you have a large group, you can double the ingredients and use a larger heavy saucepan. The cook time may take a bit longer as well, but the ingredient ratios stay the same.

Sweetener options

I personally prefer cranberry sauce made with good, old fashioned white sugar. However, it also tastes great when it’s made with honey.

Other sweeteners like brown sugar or pure maple syrup alter the flavor in a way that doesn’t complement tart cranberries quite like white sugar or honey does.

Adding orange zest

Some people like to add orange zest instead of the big pieces of orange peel. You can definitely do that, just make sure when you’re zesting your orange, you don’t get any of the pith in the sauce or it can leave a bitter taste.

Best temperature to serve cranberry sauce

This simple cranberry sauce tastes best when served at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Serving ideas

The flavor is the perfect compliment for roast turkey, chicken and other poultry. We always have it on our Thanksgiving table, but it’s great for any holiday meal.

Another great use for it is to make a Baked Brie Appetizer. While I typically make it with hot pepper jelly, it’s also great topped with sweet cranberry sauce and toasted pecans!

In addition to making a great jam, cranberry sauce is delicious on leftover turkey sandwiches the next day. I also love to spread it on warm dinner rolls or stir it into my morning oatmeal.

If you need more ideas for using it, Epicurious put together a great list of alternative cranberry sauce uses.

More of my favorite recipes to make for Thanksgiving:

Where to buy fresh cranberries?

You can normally get them at the grocery store around the holidays. This year, I bought my cranberries from Misfits Market as part of my weekly order. They were really beautiful and worked great in this recipe.

How to make smooth cranberry jelly?

If you want more of a cranberry jelly consistency than a jam consistency, you have a couple of options:

  1. The best way is to run the cooled cranberry sauce through a food mill to remove all of the skins. (This food mill at QVC is similar to mine.)
  2. If you don’t have a food mill, you can also pop it in your food processor or a good blender (like a Blendtec) to make it smoother.

Make it ahead of time

This simple cranberry sauce can be made up to 3-4 days in advance.

Storage tips

If you store your homemade cranberry sauce properly in an airtight container in the fridge, it should keep for 10-14 days.

You can also freeze it in freezer-safe airtight containers or bags for up to a year, but the flavor will decline over time.

Close up of homemade cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe with Orange Juice

Learn how to make the perfect cranberry sauce to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. You’ll find yourself making this easy recipe holiday after holiday.
5 from 3 votes
Print Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Recipe Servings: 6


  • 16 ounces fresh cranberries
  • cup orange juice - no pulp
  • cup water
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large slice orange peel
  • Pinch sea salt


  • Measuring cups
  • Paring knife
  • Medium saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Serving dish
  • Storage container


  • Dissolve sugar in water in a medium saucepan on the stove.
    Sugar dissolved in water in saucepan with whisk.
  • Add the cranberries, orange juice, orange rind and sea salt to the saucepan and stir to combine.
    Fresh cranberries, orange juice, orange peel and sea salt added to sugar water in saucepan.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the cranberries pop.
    Cranberries popping in a saucepan to make cranberry sauce.
  • Once most of the cranberries have burst, lower the heat, stir to break down the cranberries and keep cooking until your sauce has thickened and reached a jam-like consistency.
    Cooked cranberry sauce in saucepan on stove.
  • Chill your cranberry sauce in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
    Homemade cranberry sauce in white serving bowl with spoon.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 144kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 121mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 102IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

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2 thoughts on “Best Cranberry Sauce Recipe”

  1. Tasty and yummy! Just made this and it exceeded expectations! Easy and super yummy…even got a thumbs up from the hubby, who generally dislikes anything cranberry.

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