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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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I don’t know about you but cranberry sauce is a must at our Thanksgiving Dinner!  Do you stock up on cans of store-bought cranberry sauce?   If you have never tried a Homemade Cranberry Sauce, I hope you will give this a recipe a try.  I am betting you will give up on the canned variety for good.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Sure, it’s a shortcut to just open a can and serve it.  Hey, I’m not knocking shortcuts because they do have their place in my life.  But not with cranberry sauce!  Hands down, this Homemade Cranberry Sauce tastes so much better. 

Plus it is so easy to make from fresh cranberries.  It may take less than twenty minutes of your time from start to finish.   Also, it is a make-ahead that will keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Fresh Cranberries

Homemade Cranberry Sauce:

And when we say easy, we mean easy!  Like in fresh cranberries.  A little orange juice.  A little sugar.  And a touch of sea salt to balance out the tart-sweet flavors.  Then, if you want to WoW your guests, add a touch of  pure vanilla and taste the magic!

With the holiday season fast approaching us, now is a good time to get ahead of the game with a little advance planning.  Cook up a batch of homemade cranberry sauce and store it in a covered pint-size Mason jar in the fridge. 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Love the flavors in this homemade cranberry sauce!

Tips For Homemade Cranberry Sauce:

  • Cranberries are 90% water which is released as they cook.  Use a limited amount of additional liquid.
  • Add extra flavor to cranberry sauce by substituting orange or lemon juice and a little zest for the water in the recipe.
  • Cranberries are very tart and need some sugar to sweeten them up.  But if too much sugar is added it will mask the cranberry taste.
  • Cook the liquid and the sugar together until the sugar has dissolved before adding the cranberries.
  • Cook cranberries only till they pop open as overcooking will give them a bitter taste. 
  • Cranberries have a lot of pectin, the finished cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
  • If using frozen cranberries, do not thaw them first as thawing will cause the berries to break down resulting in a soft, mushy sauce.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Fresh homemade cranberry sauce

The cranberry growers begin harvesting their crops in mid-September.  Usually, by early or mid-October we begin seeing bags of the fresh cranberries in the produce sections of our grocery stores.  That coincides with our plans and growing excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas. This homemade cranberry sauce will be a big winner sitting next to your turkey. 

Can I Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

Homemade cranberry sauce freezes well. Just place it in a freezer friendly container and keep it frozen for up to 3 months. This homemade cranberry sauce will also keep in a lidded container in the refrigerator for at least three weeks.  

Cranberry sauce isn’t just for turkey.  It is also great with pork chops or a baked ham and on sandwiches.  We would love to hear how you serve your homemade cranberry sauce.

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce is so easy to make. Cranberries, sugar, orange juice, salt and the magic of vanilla. It tastes much better than the canned variety.
5 from 10 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Servings: 2 Cups
Calories: 64kcal
Author: Pat Nyswonger


  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1-¼ cup 250 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 16 ounces fresh cranberries rinsed and drained (about 5 cups)
  • ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • Add the orange juice, sugar, salt and zest to a non-reactive saucepan or skillet set over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and becomes syrupy.* See notes
  • Add the cranberries and toss with the syrup. Cook until most of the berries have popped, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • Transfer to a dish or jar. When cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • If using frozen cranberries, do not thaw them before coking as thawing will cause the berries to break down resulting in a soft, mushy sauce.
  • Cranberries are tart and acidic, use a non-reactive pan like a stainless steel or ceramic coated pan. Aluminum and copper are examples of reactive pans that will react chemically with the tart cranberries.
  • A large wide skillet works well here as the berries will cook more evenly spread into a shallow layer.
  • Cook only until they pop, overcooking will cause a bitter taste.
  • When stirring the cranberries, be gentle so as to not smash them.
  • For a smooth cranberry sauce add the cooked berries to a blender and process.


Serving: 2Tablespoons | Calories: 64kcal | Carbohydrates: 15.5g | Sodium: 31mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13.9g

Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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