Fresh Cranberry Sauce Recipe

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This cranberry sauce is the perfect combination of tart and sweet. Fresh cranberries are sweetened with light brown sugar for a slight caramel flavor, and brightened with orange zest and juice. Learn how to make cranberry sauce from scratch with this easy recipe.

fresh cranberry sauce in a bowl on a table

Cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving classic for a reason. The tart fruit is native to North America, and ready for harvesting late summer into fall. Cranberry sauce adds a bright color and flavor to your turkey dinner, and balances the rich, heaviness of the other side dishes.

Cooking cranberry sauce from scratch is one of the easiest side dishes you can make for your holiday meal. It only takes 20 minutes to make, plus you can prepare it ahead of time and refrigerate until the day of your holiday meal.

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

Fresh cranberries are available for a short time, so I like to buy extra and pop them into the freezer to use throughout the year. You can find fresh cranberries at your local grocery stores and farmers’ markets from early fall to late winter.

This cranberry sauce is more like a chutney or a jam rather than a jelly like the canned stuff. If you want a smoother sauce, you can process it in a food processor or use a handheld stick blender to break down the berries into smaller pieces.

A detailed and printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this article, but these are the general steps for making cranberry sauce:

Step 1: Prepare the Cranberries

Select fresh cranberries that are firm and brightly colored. Rinse well under clean running water.

bowl of fresh cranberries

Step 2: Zest and Juice the Oranges

Use a box grater to zest the oranges, cut them in half, and juice each half. Measure 1 cup of orange juice. Add water if you don’t have enough juice.

zesting and juicing oranges

Step 3: Combine the Ingredients

Add the cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice, and orange zest to a small saucepan. Stir to combine.

adding ingredients to a saucepan

Step 4: Cook the Cranberry Sauce

Bring the pan to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the cranberries pop, and the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

cooked cranberry sauce on a spoon

Step 5: Chill the Cranberry Sauce

Remove the pan from the heat, place on a cutting board, and let the sauce cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken up further as it cools. Pour it into a container and chill before serving.

spooning the cranberry sauce into a jar for storing

Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce: Cranberry sauce can be made in advance. Follow the recipe, and store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze up to a month.

Serve cranberry sauce with roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, and other holiday side dishes. Leftovers are delicious layered into a turkey sandwich, spread on your morning toast, or swirled into yogurt.

plate of Thanksgiving food with cranberry sauce

fresh cranberry sauce in a bowl on a table

Fresh Cranberry Sauce Recipe

This cranberry sauce is the perfect combination of tart and sweet. Fresh cranberries are sweetened with light brown sugar for a slight caramel flavor, and brightened with orange zest and juice.

Course:

Side Dish

Cuisine:

American

Keyword:

cranberry sauce

Servings: 8 servings

Calories: 110 kcal

Author: Grow a Good Life

Ingredients

  • 3
    cups
    fresh cranberries
    one 12 ounce bag
  • 1/2
    cup
    light brown sugar
  • 2
    large oranges
    zested and juiced (about 1 cup of juice)

Instructions

  1. Add the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and orange zest to a small saucepan. Stir to combine.

  2. Bring the pan to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce to a simmer, and cook until the cranberries burst, and the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

  3. Remove the cranberry sauce from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Place in a jar and refrigerate to chill before serving.

  4. Cranberry sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to a month.

Recipe Notes

Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce: Cranberry sauce can be made in advance. Follow the recipe, and store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze up to a month.

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bowl of cranberry sauce on a table