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.
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.
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
- Start by adding 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 about 10 minutes.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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!
📖 Recipe card
- Fine Mesh Sieve
- 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)
- 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.
- 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 ¼ cup of whole berry cranberry sauce and 1 ⅔ cup of cranberry jelly.
- Nutrition is calculated for 1 tablespoon serving.
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.