Cranberry Sauce

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This classic Cranberry Sauce has just 5 ingredients and takes 10 minutes to make (plus chilling time). It’s sweetened with orange juice and the perfect antidote to all the richness on your Thanksgiving menu. It’s also ideal to make ahead and/or freeze.

A bowl of cranberry sauce.

To me, Cranberry Sauce has one main function on your Thanksgiving plate: To cut the richness of everything else. It might be the only recipe on the table not made with butter! It’s one of the few, if only, cold recipes on the dinner menu, too.

My grandma always made her cranberry sauce with orange juice, and I think it’s an idea worth sharing. The orange juice is sweet against the tart cranberries, but it’s a simple contrast that doesn’t feel unexpected.

The recipe itself is just 5 ingredients (including water and salt), and it only takes about 10 minutes on the stove. You can make it a few days before so it’s ready and waiting, or make it 3 months in advance and stash it in the freezer.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for cranberry sauce.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Orange zest and juice: Zest the orange first, then juice it for the sauce.
  • Cranberries: Fresh cranberries freeze really well, so stock up when you see them. If your cranberries are already frozen, no need to thaw. Just cook them straight from the freezer and add 2 minutes to the simmering time.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, orange zest, orange juice, water, and a pinch of salt to boil.
Orange juice, water, and sugar in a small pot.
  1. Stir in cranberries.
Making cranberry sauce in a small pot.
  1. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the berries start to pop, about 10 minutes. Cover and chill.
Making cranberry sauce in a small pot.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 8 servings.
  • Make ahead: Cool the cranberry sauce completely, then keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Freezer: Cooled sauce can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  • Cranberry sauce with apples: Add 1 cup of peeled and diced apples (about 4 ounces) for a delicious twist on cranberry sauce.
A bowl of cranberry sauce.

Recipe FAQs

When are cranberries in season?

You’ll start seeing cranberries at grocery stores in November, and they should be stocked all through December. I usually stock up and vacuum-seal a few bags for the freezer because once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Where are cranberries grown?

Just five states produce all the cranberries in the United States. More than half come from Wisconsin. Massachusetts grows the second largest amount, about 30%, and the rest come from New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.

A plate of roasted trukey, stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cranberries.
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Cranberry sauce in a clear glass decorative bowl.

Cranberry Sauce

This classic Cranberry Sauce has just 5 ingredients and takes 10 minutes to make (plus chilling time).
Author: Meggan Hill
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 12 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 99

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest from 1 orange (see note 1)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries rinsed and picked

Instructions 

  • In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, water, orange zest, orange juice, and salt to boil. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
  • Stir in cranberries. Simmer until slightly thickened and the berries begin to pop, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature or chill.

Notes

  1. Orange zest and juice: Zest the orange first, then juice it for the sauce.
  2. Cranberries: Fresh cranberries freeze really well, so stock up when you see them. If your cranberries are already frozen, no need to thaw. Just cook them straight from the freezer and add 2 minutes to the simmering time.
  3. Yield: This recipe makes 8 servings (¼ cup each).
  4. Make ahead: Cool the cranberry sauce completely, then keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  5. Freezer: Cooled sauce can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  6. Cranberry sauce with apples: Add 1 cup of peeled and diced apples (about 4 ounces) for a delicious twist on cranberry sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25gCalories: 99kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 38mgPotassium: 68mgFiber: 2gSugar: 22gVitamin A: 57IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 6mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. This is the best cranberry sauce I have ever made! The only variation was using 1/4 cup cranberry juice and 1/4 cup water instead of 1/2. I took your advice and added a dash of cinnamon.
    Many thanks for another terrific recipe. Happy Thanksgiving!5 stars

  2. AWESOME recipe!! It’s taking me a lot to not eat this before Friendsgiving tomorrow. I used about 3/4 of fresh squeezed OJ (that’s all I could get out of the 2 oranges I had) and the rest water. Otherwise, just followed the recipe and I LOVE it!!5 stars

    1. Hi Olivia, I appreciate the feedback, maybe I’ll up the number of oranges to 3. I think it really depends on the oranges you get, but not everyone is as nice as you are about it. I am so glad you loved it! Happy Friendsgiving! -Meggan

    2. Making this for Christmas this time. Followed the recipe exactly for the 1/2 and 1/2 OJ/water. Also added about 1/8tsp of cinnamon. Let’s see if I can resist it again!!5 stars

  3. This looks like a delicious twist on the regular cranberry sauce and I am excited to try it! Thanks for posting!5 stars