Try this homemade cranberry sauce recipe once, and you'll never get the canned kind again! Made with 4 basic ingredients, it's easy and delicious.
Confession: I made homemade cranberry sauce for the first time this fall. Crazy, right?! You would think that someone who’s as obsessed with seasonal produce as I am would have tried a cranberry sauce recipe years ago. Nope! My family has always served canned cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, and it’s never been my favorite part of the meal. In fact, I usually pass it up in favor of a second helping of stuffing and two slices of pumpkin pie. Can you blame me?
But this fall, some fresh, locally-grown cranberries at our farmers market caught my eye, and I decided to give homemade cranberry sauce a try. If there’s anyone else out there who hasn’t made fresh cranberry sauce before, here’s my advice to you: do it!
This cranberry sauce recipe is quick and easy to make. It comes together in right around 20 minutes, and it calls for 4 basic ingredients. It has a thick, jammy texture and sweet-tart flavor that gets extra complexity from pure maple syrup and orange zest. Try it once, and you’ll never get the canned kind again.
Cranberry Sauce Recipe Ingredients
You only need 4 basic ingredients to make this cranberry sauce recipe:
- Cranberries – Fresh or frozen cranberries will work here. If you’re using frozen berries, there’s no need to thaw them fully before you start to cook.
- Maple syrup – It sweetens this cranberry sauce naturally and adds rich depth of flavor.
- Orange zest – The orange flavor is mild here – it adds bright depth to the sweet-tart sauce. If you like a stronger orange flavor, feel free to add more zest to taste!
- Salt – Just a pinch! It makes all the flavors pop.
Combine the cranberries, maple syrup, orange zest, and salt in a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often so that the syrup doesn’t burn. As the cranberries begin to burst, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens. It will continue to thicken as it sits.
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe Tips
- Cook it how you like it. Homemade cranberry sauce thickens as it cools, so keep that it mind as you make this recipe. Stop cooking when the sauce is slightly thinner than you’d like it to be. I like my sauce to be fairly thick, with a mix of whole and burst berries, so I cook it for around 18 minutes. If you like your sauce to be thinner, or to have more whole berries, cook it for less time, about 12 to 15 minutes.
- Taste and adjust. Make sure to taste this cranberry sauce before you serve it. I like mine nice and tart, but if you prefer a sweeter or zestier cranberry sauce, feel free to adjust it! Add additional maple to make your sauce sweeter, or stir in extra orange zest for a stronger orange flavor.
- Make it in advance. This homemade cranberry sauce keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If you make it ahead of time, allow it to come to room temperature before serving.
- Save the leftovers! Have a little sauce leftover from a holiday feast? Don’t let it go to waste! Think of the leftover sauce as a thick, tart jam. Dot it onto oatmeal or overnight oats, top it onto pancakes or French toast, or spread it onto a sweet and savory autumn sandwich. If you have more serving ideas, let me know in the comments!
More Favorite Holiday Recipes
Looking for more side dishes to round out your holiday menu? These recipes are some of my favorites:
- Green Bean Casserole
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
- Mushroom Gravy
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Or any of these 50 Thanksgiving Side Dishes!
- 4 cups fresh cranberries
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Pinch of salt
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cranberries, maple syrup, water, orange zest, and salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring often so that the maple syrup doesn’t burn.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the cranberries burst and the sauce has thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if desired, and serve.