Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Apples Recipe

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!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Apples in a white bowl.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Apples Recipe

Update your Homemade Cranberry Sauce with apples for a simple and sweet twist on the classic Thanksgiving side. Tasty without getting too crazy!
4.94 from 29 votes
Print Pin Rate
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: 125kcal
Author: Meggan Hill


  • 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


  • In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, water, cinnamon, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
  • 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, about 1 hour.


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!


Calories: 125kcal
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  1. Olga

    This sauce in so delicious, in our house it started out as a relish for the thanksgiving turkey but it soon became such a hit, try eating it hot with vanilla ice cream.
    Yumm5 stars

  2. Beth

    There is way too much sugar in this for my taste; I think half is plenty. I like cardamom addition to the cinnamon and ginger is great too.4 stars

  3. Cheryl Green

    Made it for Thanksgiving, everyone loved it! I only made 1 mistake, I tried to make a double batch and it wasn’t as thick as I would have liked but it tasted so good I could have eaten it all myself.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Thank you so much for your kind words Cheryl!

  4. Darlene

    Easy and delicious! I actually added a lot of things I like to put in when I didn’t use apples- a sprinkle of nutmeg and ground cloves, orange zest and juice of an orange (but used less sugar) with water if needed to make 3/4 cup liquid, honey crisp apple, splash of balsamic vinegar for depth of flavor.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Darlene, this sounds amazing. Your version is definitely better than mine! I’m stealing all your ideas for my next batch! Thanks. -Meggan

  5. Tammy Nelson

    I made this Cranberry Sauce today.I probably should have made less considering that my brother really doesn’t care for it and my mother is in the Hospital. It was very easy to make.Next time I think I will use a half cup of sugar because its rather sweet but it is still good.I can’t wait to make it again.4 stars

  6. Angalee

    I tried this recipe and we loved it! I will be serving this on thanksgiving to share with the family!!!5 stars

  7. Irina

    Delicious the only thing I add half a cup of red wine that made it even better5 stars

  8. Irina

    Very tasty the only think I add half a cup of red wine5 stars

  9. Karen

    I LOVE this recipe! I make it all winter long and eat it in the morning on top of oatmeal. Sometimes I add walnuts when I make the cranberry sauce, and they are a great crunchy addition.5 stars

  10. Kate K

    I’m thinking this recipe might pair well with pears (pun intended!) in place of the apples. You would have to add the pears later, obviously, perhaps after the cranberries have popped. Since our Thanksgiving guests are many, I may make two versions this year, one with apples and one with pears.

    1. meggan

      Hi Kate! Pears sound so divine. And I agree, adding them later will prevent them from completely disintegrating into pear mush. I love a good pun! -Meggan

  11. Ashley

    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 :)5 stars

    1. meggan

      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

  12. Janet Maddox

    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.5 stars

  13. Debbie Ventimiglia

    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!!5 stars

  14. Iz

    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!5 stars

  15. Ryan wilson

    Thank you going to make it right now

  16. Ryan Wilson

    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..

    1. meggan

      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!

  17. Tonya

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

    1. Tonya Kunde

      This worked fantastically!  I used 3/4 cup honey and the rest of the recipe as is.  PERFECT! Thank you!!!!5 stars

    2. meggan

      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.

  18. Corrie

    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!5 stars

  19. K. Stroup

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

  20. Nan

    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!5 stars

    1. meggan

      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!

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