Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Apples

Update your Homemade Cranberry Sauce with apples for a simple and sweet twist on the classic Thanksgiving side. Tasty without getting too crazy!

In my family, Thanksgiving is all about traditions. This is especially true when it comes to the menu.

Update your Homemade Cranberry Sauce with apples for a simple and sweet twist on the classic Thanksgiving side. Tasty without getting too crazy!

The turkey goes in the oven, not a barrel for deep-frying. We do not add gorgonzola, pears, and walnuts to our stuffing. Our potatoes are mashed, not roasted. Green bean casserole is required. And our dinner rolls are the ones Grandma used to make.

So when it comes to cranberry sauce, there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room. It must still look and mostly taste like cranberry sauce.

But I can get away with adding apples! I like to use Granny Smith apples. They are tart as far as apples go, but they still taste sweet compared to cranberries. They also hold their shape nicely in the sauce.

Update your Homemade Cranberry Sauce with apples for a simple and sweet twist on the classic Thanksgiving side. Tasty without getting too crazy!

Apples add an element of surprise without raising eyebrows or causing alarm. Applesauce on Thanksgiving sounds… appropriate. Mixed in with cranberry sauce it sounds… perfect.

Luckily, Cranberry Sauce is probably the easiest course on your Thanksgiving menu already. Chopping up an apple or two and stirring in some cinnamon is all it takes, and it doesn’t take long. With just that extra minute or two, you’ll have elevated your Homemade Cranberry Sauce without ruffling feathers or being a pretentious food snob.

And that’s great! Because if there is one thing Thanksgiving is not about, it’s food snobbery.

At least not in my family.

See the recipe notes for easy Make Ahead instructions!

Save this Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Apples to your “Side Dishes” Pinterest board!

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Update your Homemade Cranberry Sauce with apples for a simple and sweet twist on the classic Thanksgiving side. Tasty without getting too crazy!
5 from 16 votes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Apples

Update your Homemade Cranberry Sauce with apples for a simple and sweet twist on the classic Thanksgiving side. Tasty without getting too crazy!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 125 kcal


  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries picked over
  • 1 cup cooking apples peeled and diced , I like to use Granny Smith


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, water, cinnamon, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Stir in cranberries and apples. Simmer until slightly thickened and the berries begin to pop, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Recipe Notes

If you're using frozen cranberries, just add about 2 minutes to simmering time (no need to thaw).

Make it ahead! Just follow the recipe as is, cool it completely, and then keep refrigerated for up to 4 days in advance. Or, freeze it a month ahead and just thaw in the refrigerator overnight before you want to serve it. Easy!

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  1. I had never had cranberry sauce until I moved to the U.S. Can’t believe what I was missing. I love the addition of the apples, a perfectly sweet and tart treat.

  2. I never had cranberry sauce but I love cranberries! I only can find frozen cranberries here and glad I can use them too! The sauce looks so shiny and beautiful! Can’t wait to try this with some butter and freshly baked bread :)

  3. Love this simple classic recipe. One question – what is “picked over”? i.e. in the ingredients, Cranberries line

    • Hi Nagi! :) I always love your questions. Makes me feel useful. When I say “picked over” it means you sort of sift through the cranberries with your hands and discard any that look damaged or sad. I would use the same terminology for looking at lentils while washing them. You pick out the rocks that are mixed in with lentils, if there are any. Ditto on beans. Thanks for reading the post. :)

  4. You know, I’ve never made my own cranberry sauce! I think I need to go on a hunt to find some fresh cranberries (not sure how easy to find they are over here … I reckon frozen might be my best bet). This looks so easy to make, Meggan, and I love that you’ve made a sort of cross between apple and cranberry sauce! Hope you’ve had a wonderful thanksgiving!

  5. This dish is SO beautiful! I’ve never paired cranberries with apples before! The combination with cinnamon sounds incredible!

  6. I love apples and cinnamon for fall flavors! They warm me right up. We didn’t even get to eat cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving, so I’m definitely making this one on my own, Meggan!

  7. I just made this tonight as a test run for making it for Thanksgiving. It SO yummy! And so very easy to make!

    • Yay, Jamie! Kudos to you for planning ahead and testing out recipes in advance. :) I’m so glad you liked the recipe! I am really excited to make this one myself. Take care!

  8. What kind of apples are best to use?

    • Hi Christina, that’s a really great question. I like to use apples that hold their shape and don’t turn to mush such as Braeburn, Jonathan, Winesap, and Empire. Honeycrisp, Mutsu, and Pink Lady are also great. If you want something “basic” you can’t go wrong with Granny Smith. I hope this helps! I’ll definitely update the post to include this info. Thanks for asking.

  9. i found 3 year old frozen cranberries in the freezer and just turned them into this- i used apples i had on hand, unfortunately the didn’t fall apart- next time ( in 4 years, i guess ) i will cook the apples a bit before adding the cranberries. nevertheless delicious! thank you for this no-fuss recipe! :)

    • Hi Daniela! I am sorry to hear it didn’t turn out as you had hoped. I don’t think my apples fell apart either, I was hoping for chunks in my cranberry sauce. I will research some different options for apples and include notes for some that fall apart and some that don’t so people can decide what they want. Thank you so much for your feedback! Have a great weekend.

  10. Just finished, looks and tastes amazing! I added about a 1/2 tsp lemon juice for a little bit of acidity! Thanks for sharing your recipe! 

    • Thank you so much, Sarah! I will definitely test this next with lemon juice and will update the recipe. Thanks a lot for the idea. I’m doing a million recipes with cranberries right now, I can’t wait to share them all! Cranberry Cream Cheese danishes, Cranberry Cream Cheese Galettes, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, and Cranberries with Bacon and Walnuts. I’m obsessed with cranberries! Take care, thanks again, and have a great weekend!

  11. Can I make this ahead of thanksgiving and freeze it?

    • Hi Corinne, YES! I think that would work splendidly. There is nothing in this recipe that would suffer as far as quality. You should be good to go. I’ll update the recipe with this info. Thanks for your question.

  12. I’m excited to try this for Thanksgiving!  

  13. Thanks for sharing the recipe! I added some orange zest and substitute 1/3 of the water with OJ. I also cooked the apples a little longer on a separate pan first to make them fall apart.

    • Sounds perfect! My grandma always used OJ in her cranberry sauce. I need to try it myself. :) Glad you liked the recipe! Thank you so much for the comment.

  14. I added lemon and orange zest. I agree it needed acidity. I don’t know why anyone would want their apples to Fall Apart. That is the beauty of this chunky recipe.

  15. I stumbled on this recipe while trying to prep for Thanksgiving in a few days – looks awesome and easy! And, since you are a Meggan with 2 G’s just like me, I’ll have to try it! :)

    • HOORAY for Meggans with two g’s! Double g’s are double great! ;) Or that’s what I used to say in high school…. hope you love the cranberry sauce. :) Take care my dear!

    • Omg! I am Meggan with 2 g’s, too!! I was trying to decide between 2 recipes and the 2 g’s made me choose this one!

    • You know what I always say – DOUBLE G’S ARE DOUBLE GREAT! But seriously Meggan we are the best and thank you for picking my recipe, I hope it turned out for you and that you continue favoring Meggans with 2 g’s everywhere! I would do the same! Hope you have a great holiday and thanks for stopping by… and sharing my name! :D

  16. Is this ok to make the night before? I don’t see why not but just wanted some input ? Thanks for the great recipe! 

    • Yes! Absolutely. You should go make it right now. :) You could make it 4 days in advance, even. Or make it WAY in advance and freeze it. You’re good to go! It’s a very forgiving recipe. :)

  17. Can you use package cranberries and use crock pot

    • Hi Kat, I’m sure you can. It might take 4 hours or so on HIGH for the cranberries to get done since you need them to boil. I haven’t tested it yet, but I’m sure it would work! And yes to the fresh cranberries.

  18. I just made this and it is very good! I simmered it a little longer for a thicker texture and also added some slivered almonds for fun. Thank you!

    • Slivered almonds, great idea! And yes, you can simmer longer to make it thicker. It also thickens a lot as it cools. I hope you love it! Thanks for you great idea.

  19. I just made this and it turned out great. Very flavorful. I plan on making it again and adding oranges and put it in nice jars for gifts. Thanks for sharing! Happy Thanksgiving ? 

    • Hi Michele, do you actually add pieces of oranges to the sauce? Would you leave it out the apples then? I’m sure you’re busy and don’t have time to reply, I’m just curious. Glad you liked the recipe. :) Happy Thanksgiving!

  20. My husband has to work on Thanksgiving so we celebrated early. I’m the only one that’s a fan of cranberry sauce so I was looking for a new way to make it. I decided on your recipe because my children love applesauce and I thought my kids might like this better than the traditional way. It was a hit! My husband said it was the best cranberry sauce he’s tasted. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Jennifer, that’s so wonderful to hear! I’m glad you loved it. :) I am making it today too. I cannot remember if my small children like cranberry sauce or not, so it might be only me eating it. But I’m obsessed. Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you so much for your comment!

  21. My daughter made a similar recipe last year with cranberries and red seedless grapes. I didn’t think that recipe could be beat but I believe you have topped it!  I added some fresh orange zest and actually sliced the orange in big pieces to let it simmer with the other fruit. Added some purple seedless grapes as well. Love the Granny Smith apples in it so much I added another one at the end of cooking time so it could be crisper! I like the different textures together. Thank you for a great recipe! This one is a keeper!

    • Thanks so much for the great comment and your ideas! I am absolutely going to try a version with oranges and grapes in it. Sounds amazing. Thanks again, wishing you a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving!

  22. The apples and cinnamon are a fantastic add.  The leftovers are awesome over vanilla bean ice cream too!

  23. Yum, yum, yum! I didn’t measure the cinnamon, and I used two apples, but other than that, I followed the recipe, and my family loved it. Thanks for posting!

  24. How well do you think it would work to sub honey for the sugar?  And would it be a 1:1 sub?

    • Hi Tonya! It would definitely work. It would add honey flavor, but obviously that isn’t a bad thing! I don’t know if it would be a 1 to 1 sub. I would start with 1/2 cup, stir it in, taste it, and add more if you think it needs it. I’d love to know how this goes for you! Thanks Tonya.

    • This worked fantastically!  I used 3/4 cup honey and the rest of the recipe as is.  PERFECT! Thank you!!!!

  25. Meggan, did you ever experiment with oranges? i eat one or two oranges every day 7 days a week 365. i just found this recipe and am going to try it out tomorrow as written but I’m curious what you think about a chopped up navel orange in the last few minutes of cooking..?.. Sounds promising but things that sound good dont always taste as good.. I’m planning on using one honeycrisp and one granny smith with plain whole cranberries.. But I would really like to know your thoughts on the orange..

    • Hi Ryan! Yes, I have a version of cranberry sauce that I just posted which is made with orange juice and orange zest. I LOVE it! I haven’t tried it with the apples, but honestly, it could only make it better. Honeycrisp are my FAVORITE, good call on that. So yes, I would say add some orange (maybe zest the peel and add that too?) and I’m sure it will be wonderful! Thanks Ryan!

  26. Thank you going to make it right now

  27. I just made this for tomorrow and it tastes AWESOME! My first time making them, we have always had the canned but never again, these were so simple and tasty!

  28. I found your recipe and made it Thanksgiving. IT came out fabulous!! I could never stand the canned stuff. The apples make a huge difference. Thank you so much!! I’ll continue you make this all the rest of the year!!

  29. Beautiful thick red cranberry sauce. So easy to prepare. The diced apple adds to the flavor of the sauce. I added some nutmeg but aside from that this is a go to recipe as it is. This sauce is so good it can be used as a dessert sauce or as a filling in tarts and turnovers. I made this sauce for a family gathering this weekend. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  30. I just wanted you to know, I made this last year and it was a HUGE hit! I’ve never cared for cranberry sauce and was determined to find one I like. As I’m prepping again for Thanksgiving, I’ve added this recipe to my 100 year old family cookbook for future generations to enjoy! Itll always be on my Thanksgiving table! Thank you so much :)

    • Thank you so much Ashley!!! Makes my day. I agree, the apples make such a difference in cranberry sauce. And it’s so easy, so obvious! Thank you again, and Happy Thanksgiving. :D -Meggan

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