The best Cranberry Sauce recipe! This easy cranberry sauce has the perfect balance of sweet tart flavors, with a touch of orange and cinnamon. It’s a must-make for Thanksgiving dinner!
When I set out to create this cranberry sauce recipe, I knew that I wanted it to be something special. Sure, homemade cranberry sauce will always be miles better than anything from a can. But this cranberry sauce? It’s truly the best.
Besides the bright and fresh cranberry flavor, this classic cranberry sauce features hints of orange, maple and cinnamon. It’s sweet, it’s tangy, it’s so irresistible you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful! Too good to save just for the holidays, this recipe is one I’ll be making year-round with my freezer stash of fresh cranberries. I hope it will make an appearance on your Thanksgiving table!
Cranberry Sauce Recipe Ingredients
You’ll need just a few ingredients to make this easy recipe. The ingredient list includes both orange zest and orange juice for a bright pop of fresh citrus flavor, which is perfectly balanced by the tart cranberries, sugar and maple syrup.
- Fresh Cranberries: A must for homemade cranberry sauce! Frozen cranberries work well too, and you don’t even need to thaw them before beginning this recipe.
- Granulated Sugar: Since fresh cranberries can be very tart, we need a generous amount of sugar to sweeten the sauce.
- Orange Zest & Orange Juice: I use both the zest and juice of an orange in this recipe to create the most irresistible cranberry orange flavor. If you prefer less orange flavor, you can omit the orange zest.
- Water: To thin the sauce a bit and help the cranberries cook down. The cranberries will also release some liquid as they cook.
- Pure Maple Syrup: A touch of maple complements the cranberry, orange and cinnamon flavors. If you are looking for a substitute, try an equivalent amount of water plus 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Cinnamon: For a bit of warm spice to enhance the other flavors.
- Salt: A few pinches of salt intensify the cranberry orange flavors.
Find the printable recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
How to Make Cranberry Sauce
- Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Cook at a low boil, stirring often, until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens. This will take about 7-10 minutes.
Perfect for Making Ahead to go with your Thanksgiving Turkey
This cranberry sauce does not need extra time to thicken up, so you can serve it warm right after making it. If you plan to serve it at a holiday meal, though, you’ll probably want to make it ahead. Cranberry sauce is delicious cold from the refrigerator and its flavor is even better on the second and third day, so it’s an ideal make ahead side dish.
What to do with Leftover Cranberry Sauce
Besides serving it with leftover turkey, there are many delicious ways to use extra cranberry sauce.
- Use it as a sandwich spread for a turkey sandwich or Chicken Salad sandwich.
- Spread it on toast, Dinner Rolls or Biscuits.
- Swirl it into a bowl of Steel Cut Oatmeal or Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats.
- Enjoy it as a topping for Waffles, Buttermilk Pancakes or French Toast.
- Stir it into Greek yogurt and sprinkle on some Granola.
- Serve it with Baked Chicken, Baked Pork Chops or Air Fryer Chicken Breast.
- Swap it for the strawberry filling in these Strawberry Oatmeal Bars.
How Long Does Cranberry Sauce Last in the Fridge?
This homemade cranberry sauce may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least one week. For longer storage, you can freeze this cranberry sauce. Before freezing, make sure it is completely cool. It will last in an airtight container in the freezer for about 3 months. To thaw, place it in the refrigerator overnight.
More Thanksgiving Recipes
Thanksgiving side dishes are often the best part of the meal, and this homemade cranberry sauce is no exception. Here are a few more of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes:
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Mashed Potatoes
- Twice Baked Potato Casserole
- Green Bean Casserole
- Stuffing Recipe
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries*
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange zest* (from 1 orange)
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup*
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 pinches salt
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir.
- Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat as needed to continue cooking at a low boil, stirring often, for 7-10 minutes, until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens.
- Taste for sweetness. If you want the cranberry sauce sweeter you can stir in 1-2 more tablespoons of granulated sugar or pure maple syrup.
- Serve warm or chilled.
- Frozen cranberries may also be used. You do not need to thaw them first.
- For less orange flavor, omit or reduce the amount of orange zest.
- If you don't have pure maple syrup, try an equivalent amount of water plus 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Cranberry sauce may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 1 week, or in the freezer for 3 months.
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