This Cranberry Sauce recipe has only five ingredients and is the most flavorful fresh sauce recipe for Thanksgiving. You’ll never reach for the canned stuff again!
Cranberry Sauce is key to just about every Thanksgiving table. But with how easy it is to make at home, this is a recipe you will definitely want to make from scratch. Skip the can this year, and make your cranberry sauce from scratch with this delicious five ingredient recipe.
I have made this for the last three years. I have a grown son who eats every can of cranberry jelly he sees and is very fussy. It must be jellied. I made this recipe and now he only likes my homemade cranberry sauce with whole and pieces of the berry in it. Thank you for such an easy and delicious recipe.
Cranberry Sauce Ingredients
Part of what makes this better than other cranberry sauce recipes is the simple and fresh ingredients list. Here’s all you need for the most vibrant, fresh cranberry sauce ever:
- Cranberries: We are using fresh, whole cranberries that have been thoroughly washed. Make sure to remove any cranberries that look wilted; we want to use cranberries that are nice and plump.
- Sugar: This recipe does call for a whole cup of sugar. Like in many sauces, this is needed to balance the tartness of the fresh cranberries and orange juice, which are both quite acidic. See suggestions below if that is too much sugar for your diet.
- Orange juice: The base of the sauce, your favorite orange juice punches up the flavor of this sauce in a big way.
- Orange zest: The zest from a fresh orange adds flavor that the orange juice can’t do alone. See more on zesting oranges below.
- Cinnamon: Adds some spice to balance the other ingredients and will make your kitchen smell so amazing while the sauce cooks.
How to Make Cranberry Sauce
Here is a brief overview of how to make cranberry sauce with orange juice. For the full recipe including all measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Combine the orange juice and sugar. Whisk them together in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Add the other ingredients. Add the cranberries, cinnamon, and orange zest and stir to combine. Cook until the cranberries begin to pop, about 10 minutes.
- Serve the sauce. Remove the sauce from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl. The sauce will thicken as it sits.
Zesting the peel of an orange adds flavor to this homemade cranberry sauce that the orange juice can’t do alone. There is so much more flavor in the zest of citrus fruit than in the juice.
If you are new to zesting, it is basically the skin of the orange (or a lemon or lime) grated into small pieces. The zesting creates small shreds that when added to a recipe, give you a great burst of the citrus flavor without the weird texture of the peel.
Anytime you are zesting fruit, it is important to use a good quality zester. I share my recommendation for one I love below. You also want to only zest the bright orange of the peel. Once you get through that and into the white, stop and move on to a different part of the orange.
Sugar in Cranberry Sauce
As mentioned above, this recipe does call for a full cup of sugar. My thoughts on that are that the cup of sugar are needed to offset the tartness of the cranberries and the orange juice. The final result is a sauce that is perfect and not overly sweet. Additionally, I really believe that there isn’t such a thing as bad food, rather food that we should eat in moderation. You’ll notice the serving size here is only 1/3 cup.
If you are cooking for someone who has diabetes, a sugar substitute would be a great idea here. For example, monk fruit would work really well here. That being said, cranberries and orange juice also contain a lot of sugar, so even with that swap, cranberry sauce might just not be the best recipe to serve someone with blood sugar issues.
Using Frozen Cranberries
This recipe uses fresh cranberries. If you want to make homemade cranberry sauce with frozen cranberries because that is what you have or fresh cranberries are out of season, there is no need to thaw them before adding them to the pan. It will just take a little bit longer to cook the sauce.
Making Cranberry Sauce in the Crockpot
This isn’t necessarily a recipe that needs to be made in the crockpot. It is pretty hands off once you combine everything with just a little bit of stirring here and there. That being said, if you would like to just turn it on and not think about it again, we have a great crockpot cranberry sauce linked below.
If you love cranberry sauce, but you just want to mix things up a little bit and try something different, then make my Cranberry Relish. It is made with a lot of the same ingredients, but it is blended to make a fresh relish. It is delicious, and I actually sometimes prefer it to the hot cranberry sauce.
How to Store Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Once made, this cranberry orange sauce thickens as it stands. I generally transfer it to a bowl right after cooking and let it thicken at room temperature until it’s time to eat. Here are some simple storage tips for leftovers:
- Make sure you cover and refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking. As soon as the meal is over, make sure to stick it in the fridge.
- If it’s tightly covered, leftover sauce will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.
- For warm cranberry sauce, you can heat it up on the stovetop over medium heat until it’s the consistency you like.
- If the sauce seems too thick, thin it out with a little more orange juice or water.
Freezing Cranberry Sauce
You can freeze it too! Sometimes I make a double batch and freeze one for our Christmas meal. Just make sure to let it cool and store it in a freezer-safe container. It’ll stay nice and fresh for up to two months in the freezer. Thaw the frozen sauce in the refrigerator and serve or warm it on the stovetop and then serve.
Using Leftover Cranberry Sauce
This orange cranberry sauce can be eaten right out of the refrigerator or used in recipes! Its versatility is part of what makes it the best cranberry sauce recipe. Here are a few ideas:
If stored properly, this sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you want it to last even longer, I recommend freezing it. I share my tips for storing leftovers and freezing above. Always use your best discretion with leftovers.
Yes. It can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. See my tips above for freezing cranberry sauce.
What to Serve With Cranberry Sauce
If you aren’t sure what else to add to your Thanksgiving table, check out some of these fantastic side dish recipes:
I can’t wait to hear what you think of this super easy cranberry sauce recipe. Drop a comment below to let me know how it goes!
- 1 cup orange juice (236.588 ml)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (198 grams) read above about sugar in cranberry sauce
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries (340.194 grams) washed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the orange juice and sugar over medium-low heat.1 cup orange juice, 1 cup granulated sugar
- Pour in the cranberries, then add in the cinnamon and orange zest. Stir to combine. Continue to cook until the cranberries begin to pop. This will take about 10 minutes.12 ounces fresh cranberries, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl. The sauce will thicken as it sits.