Cranberry Sauce doesn’t have to come out of a tin can. This homemade recipe makes for the perfect holiday side dish. Fresh cranberries are cooked with orange zest, orange juice, and brown sugar to create a thick, colorful, sweet, delicious fruit reduction that your guests are sure to love.
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Is It Worth Making Homemade Cranberry Sauce from Scratch?
Holiday hosting and cooking can be overwhelming, and typically I’d recommend ways to lessen your workload. But when it comes to cranberry sauce, the homemade version is SO MUCH BETTER than what your grandmother served out of a can. And it’s worth the extra effort. Luckily, my recipe is super simple and requires almost no time to prepare and cook before serving. This could even be one of the first dishes you make out of your Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday menu — even days ahead of time — because it needs time to chill. Plus, the longer it sits, the better it tastes.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Ingredients
There’s only five simple ingredients standing between you and the BEST homemade cranberry sauce:
- Fresh cranberries: You can find fresh cranberries in the produce section of your favorite grocery store around the holiday season, if not year-round. Inspect the bag to make sure the cranberries are brightly colored and firm. You don’t want a lot that are brown or faded.
- Orange Juice: Fresh-squeezed is ALWAYS best when it comes to orange juice. For this recipe, you’ll need the juice of one whole orange.
- Orange Zest: The zest of an orange helps brighten this recipe and combat the sweetness.
- Water: This helps thin out the jam-like sauce while it cooks and reduces, and also helps it not burn.
- Light Brown Sugar: The sweet, light caramel flavor of light brown sugar compliments the tartness of the cranberries and orange without discoloring the sauce.
How to Make Your Own Cranberry Sauce
One of the best parts of this recipe is that it’s SO easy to throw together. Follow these four simple steps to learn make your own cranberry sauce at home:
- Rinse your cranberries thoroughly to remove any dirt and pick through any bad cranberries. Reserve 1/2 cup of cranberries and set aside to use later.
- Combine the remaining cranberries, water, orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and reduce the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce if thickened and the cranberries have split open. Take off of the heat and stir in the orange zest and the 1/2 cup of reserved cranberries (for texture).
- Allow the cranberry sauce to cool before serving or refrigerate until you are ready to serve. You could even make this a day or two before and let chill in the fridge before serving.
How To Serve Cranberry Sauce
- Serve as a part of your holiday meal. It’s the perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas side dish!
- Spread on some bread for a leftovers sandwich the day after your big meal (arguably the BEST part about big holiday meals).
- Create the perfect bite — turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. YUM!
- Prepare it ahead of time, can it in mason jars, tie it with a bow, and give it to friends and family as a gift.
- Make it year-round and keep it in your fridge! This recipe pairs perfectly with any dish, especially grilled chicken and Brussels sprouts.
- Slightly warmed over some vanilla ice cream.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
- Store: Leftover cranberry sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To serve: Let it come to room temperature, or serve chilled.
More Cranberry Recipes To Make This Holiday Season
If you like cranberry sauce, then you’ll love these cranberry recipes that make for the perfect holiday cocktail or dessert:
- Cranberry Pomegranate Mojito
- Cranberry Orange Bread
- Pomegranate Cranberry Champagne Punch
- Cranberry Margaritas
Cranberry Orange Sauce
- Rinse your cranberries thoroughly to remove any dirt and pick through any bad cranberries. Reserve 1/2 cup of cranberries and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan combine the remaining cranberries, water, orange juice and sugar.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce if thickened and the cranberries have split open. Take off of the heat and stir in the orange zest and the 1/2 cup of reserved cranberries.
- Allow the cranberry sauce to cool before serving or refrigerate until you are ready to serve.