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.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Apples in a white bowl.

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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.

Chunks of apples and cranberries in a silver pot.

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!

A bowl of cranberry sauce with apples.

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!
4.98 from 41 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 12 servings
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 125

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries picked over (see note 1)
  • 1 cup tart apples peeled and diced (see note 2)

Instructions 

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

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. Apples: I like tart Granny Smith apples because they hold their shape in the sauce.
  3. Yield: This recipe makes 3 cups of sauce, enough for 12 (¼ cup) servings.
  4. Make ahead: Cool the cranberry sauce completely, then keep refrigerated for up to 3 days. Or, freeze it up to one month in advance. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
  5. Freezer: Cooled sauce can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  6. With orange: For a citrus twist, try this cranberry sauce recipe with orange zest and orange juice.

Nutrition

Calories: 125kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 75mgPotassium: 53mgFiber: 2gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 34IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 3mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

  1. 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! 5 stars

    1. 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!

  2. 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! :)

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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!

  3. 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!

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

  5. 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 stars

  6. Love this simple classic recipe. One question – what is “picked over”? i.e. in the ingredients, Cranberries line5 stars

    1. 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. :)

  7. 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 :)

  8. 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.5 stars