This post may include affiliate links; for details, see our disclosure policy.

This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is so fast and easy, you won’t need canned sauce again! Bursting with fresh berries and warm spices, it’s the perfect side dish to elevate your holiday feast.

Cranberry Sauce

It’s taken too many years for us to realize this, but we finally know the truth. Cranberry sauce is beyond easy to make homemade. Turns out, all you need is a handful of ingredients and 10 minutes to make this side dish. There’s really no need for canned, folks! This easy fresh cranberry sauce recipe comes together quickly with the flavors of brown sugar, orange, and cinnamon. It’s so simple: and we’re never buying canned again.

Ingredients for this cranberry sauce recipe

There are only a few recipes we can think of that are easier than homemade cranberry sauce. How did we go so long without this knowledge? It simply involves combining a few ingredients and simmering until a thick sauce forms. Everyone around the table will be impressed by your cooking prowess (and you don’t need to share your secrets!).

Fresh cranberries are intensely tart, so you’ll need a nice dose of sweetener to get that perfect sweet tart flavor. For this cranberry sauce recipe, we’ve tinkered with the flavors to get just the right mix of fruity, sweet tart, and spiced. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fresh cranberries
  • Granulated sugar and brown sugar
  • Orange juice, bottled or fresh
  • Orange zest (optional)
  • Cinnamon stick

Where did cranberry sauce come from, anyway?

Cranberries are a fruit that is native to North America, and Americans have been eating cranberry sauce for centuries. Original Native American cranberry sauce recipes date back to the late 17th century.

The first mention of this food in print was the 1796 cookbook called American Cookery cookbook, where author Amelia Simmons mentions to serve roast turkey with cranberry sauce (per The Washington Post). The canned version came along in much later, of course: it became available in the 1940s so people could enjoy cranberry sauce year-round!

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Tips for how to make cranberry sauce

Making this homemade cranberry sauce recipe is simple and requires almost no cooking technique. Here are a few pointers to note:

  • Simmer all ingredients over medium heat until a saucy texture forms. The timing will vary based on your pan and the exact heat level, but it should take about 10 to 15 minutes. We like to see most cranberries burst and dissolved, but there can be a few that are still whole.
  • Substitutes are welcome. Don’t have both granulated and brown sugar? Use just one. Want to use all orange juice and not water? Go for it!
  • Add orange zest if desired. When you zest the orange, make sure to only get the orange part of the peel: not the white pith! The pith tastes very bitter and if you zest too aggressively, it makes the cranberry sauce taste bitter.
  • A cinnamon stick completes the flavors. Using a cinnamon stick infuses a cozy-spiced flavor that’s gentler and more elevated than the ground spice. But substitute ground cinnamon if it’s all you have!

Alternative natural sweeteners

If you like a more tart cranberry sauce, feel free to reduce the sugar level. We’ve found somewhere between ¾ cup and 1 cup sugar works best for 12 ounces of cranberries. Feel free to experiment to find your sweet spot.

If desired, you can use alternative natural sweeteners in cranberry sauce like honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup. Start with ¾ cup sweetener, then add more to taste if desired.

Cranberry Sauce

Storage for homemade cranberry sauce

How long does homemade cranberry sauce last? Store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. This makes it perfect for making ahead of a holiday gathering.

You can also freeze cranberry sauce: place it in a sealed container and store for up to 3 months. To defrost, place it in the refrigerator the night before you plan to serve it.

How to serve it

Cranberry sauce is an ideal side dish for fall and winter, perfect as a Thanksgiving side or for Christmas. You can also repurpose leftovers in so many ways! Here are a few ways to serve cranberry sauce:

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

More cranberry recipes

Got fresh or frozen cranberries? Here are a few more cranberry recipes to try:

This cranberry sauce recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce Recipe (10 Minutes!)


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 1x

Description

This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is so fast and easy, you won’t need canned sauce again! Bursting with fresh berries and warm spices, it’s the perfect side dish to elevate your holiday feast.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar*
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup fresh or bottled orange juice (2 large oranges; add the zest of 1/2 orange, if desired)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Simmer until the cranberries pop and it becomes saucy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Leftovers last refrigerated for up to 10 days or frozen for up to 3 months. 

Notes

*If desired, you can use honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup in this cranberry sauce. Start with ¾ cup and add more sweetener to taste.

  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Cranberry sauce, cranberry sauce recipe, homemade cranberry sauce, how to make cranberry sauce

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment

  1. I make my own cranberry sauce every year. Instead of sugar, I chop pitted dates. Deglet Noor, or Medjool. I like your addition of the cinnamon stick. Thank you.
    Lucy