Home » Recipes » Savory Dishes » Sides & Condiments » Easy Cranberry Sauce – 2 ways

Easy Cranberry Sauce – 2 ways

Thanksgiving dinner is never complete without Cranberry Sauce. This easy three-ingredient cranberry sauce only takes 15 minutes on the stove top! The flavor is enhanced with orange juice and is simply delicious.

Cranberry Orange Sauce in serving cups

What type of cranberry sauce do you usually serve for Thanksgiving dinner? Is your family the whole berry cranberry sauce type of crowd or do they prefer jellied cranberry sauce? Mine is split, some like whole cranberry sauce and some will only eat cranberry jelly.

This cranberry sauce recipe will allow you to make both the whole berry version and the jelly version. So say goodbye to canned cranberry jelly! This homemade orange cranberry sauce is perfectly sweet and tart, light and bright, with just a hint of orange flavor from the orange juice. It is the quintessential addition to any holiday feast.

Whole berry cranberry sauce on a spoon

How to make Orange Cranberry Sauce

Whether you’re looking to make whole berry cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly, you only need 3 ingredients:

  • Cranberries – you can use fresh or frozen.
  • Orange juice – for just a hint of orange flavor, you could add orange zest as well but I find it too strong and it overpowers the cranberry flavor.
  • Sugar – enough sugar is needed to make the jelly version. I find that when I reduce the amount of sugar in this recipe, the cranberry jelly doesn’t set.

How to make whole berry cranberry sauce

Steps to make cranberry sauce

How to make cranberry sauce (Steps 1 – 3)

  1. Start by adding sugar and orange juice into a medium pot and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the cranberries and continue cooking for about 10 minutes.
  3. You should end up with a thickened cranberry sauce with whole cranberries in it.

You are done at this point if you want whole berries in your sauce. Allow the sauce to cool and keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve. But continue to the next steps if you want to make cranberry jelly.

How to make cranberry jelly

Making cranberry jelly

How to make cranberry jelly (Steps 4 – 5)

  1. Press the cranberry sauce through a fine mesh sieve and discard the pulp.
  2. Pour strained cranberry sauce into a container, jar, or mold. Allow to cool completely and set for at least a couple of hours before unmolding.

Customizing your cranberry sauce

Cranberry and orange go perfectly together in this simple recipe. But there are many ways to customize your cranberry sauce for a gourmet side dish to fit any holiday occasion.

  • Use a different citrus like lemon, lime or tangerine to add brightness instead of orange.
  • Add warm spices like allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, star anise. You can add ground spices directly into the sauce while cooking.
  • Stir in some vanilla extract or almond extract at the end.
  • Substitute some of the sugar for honey or maple syrup.
  • For a different take on cranberry sauce, add diced apples or pears along with the cranberries.
  • If you want a boozy cranberry sauce, add a splash of alcohol like white wine, bourbon, or Grand Marnier to the sauce while cooking.

Jellied cranberry sauce in a serving cup

Can you make cranberry sauce in advance?

Absolutely! Store in an airtight container, cranberry sauce will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator. It needs to be served cold anyways, so it is the perfect dish to make in advance.

How to use leftover cranberry sauce

What to do if you made too much cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner?? Don’t toss the cranberry sauce, save it for another meal or as an ingredient in another recipe.

  • Leftover cranberry sauce is perfect in a leftover turkey sandwich the next day.
  • Besides turkey, cranberry sauce pairs well with roast chicken or pork chops.
  • Add a teaspoon to your holiday brunch mimosa or New Year champagne.
  • Top pancakes and waffles with it.
  • Use it as filling in this Pear Cranberry Pie or these Cranberry Orange Scones.
  • Serve it on a cheese platter in place of jam, it’s delicious with crackers and goat cheese.
  • Freeze it for much later.

Cranberry Jelly on a plate

More sauce and compote recipes

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!

Baker’s Tip: How does cranberry sauce thicken all by itself? Cranberry contains a lot of natural pectin. During the cooking process, the cranberries pop, releasing the pectin which forms a thickened sauce when cooked with sugar in the presence of an acid (orange juice).
Cranberry Jelly on a plate

Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving dinner is never complete without Cranberry Sauce. This easy three-ingredient cranberry sauce only takes 15 minutes on the stove top! The flavor is enhanced with orange juice, and is simply delicious!
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Course: Condiment, Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 30kcal
Author: Trang

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 4 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen, 14 oz, 397 g)
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (from 2 large oranges, 240 g)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (198 g)

Instructions

  • Wash the cranberries and discard mushy ones.
  • Add sugar and orange juice into a medium pot and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the cranberries and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The berries will start popping and the sauce will thicken.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool completely before transferring to a jar for storage. If you want a cranberry sauce with whole cranberries in it, you are done at this point.
  • For cranberry jelly, press the cranberry sauce through a fine mesh sieve and discard the pulp. Pour strained cranberry sauce into a container, jar, or mold. Allow to cool completely and set for at least a couple of hours before unmolding.

Notes

  • You can use either fresh or frozen cranberries for this recipe.
  • Orange zest can be added for stronger orange flavor if desired.
  • This recipe yields 2 1/4 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce and 1 2/3 cup of cranberry jelly.
  • Nutrition is calculated for 1 tablespoon serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 24g | Calories: 30kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @WildWildWhisk or tag #WildWildWhisk!

This post was originally published on 11/24/2014. The recipe has been updated and republished on 11/22/2019 with the latest improvements, extra tips and process photos to help you in the kitchen.

Follow:

Are you hungry for more?

Sign up for email updates and never miss a recipe

+ Get my FREE ebook ROOM FOR PIE!

Share:

5 Comments

  1. August 8, 2019 /

    5 stars
    I’ve actually always wanted to make my own cranberry sauce for Christmas time and this looks so good, I can’t wait to try it

  2. November 25, 2014 /

    i’ve never made this homemade. looks great!

    • November 25, 2014 /

      Thanks Dina, this is my first time making this too and it was surprisingly easy!

  3. November 25, 2014 /

    Looks delicious! I love the cranberry/orange combo. I’ll definitely be making on Thursday! 🙂

    • November 25, 2014 /

      Thanks Gin! It was sweet and tangy, but not overly sweet, and sooo easy to make! Send me a pic if you make it! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

As Featured On

shares