Homemade Cranberry Sauce (Quick & Easy!)

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce is quick & easy to prepare, and tastes much better than the canned version, if you ask me. I love how this recipe is made with simple ingredients, and how it can be made in advance so you don’t have to worry about cooking it during a busy holiday.

homemade cranberry sauce in a glass jar

Benefits of Cranberries

Cranberries are in peak season in the Fall (mid-September to mid-November) and they are high in antioxidants, especially polyphenols.

  • Polyphenols called A-Type proanthocyanidins, which are found in cranberries, may help to protect against uninary tract infections. (source)
  • Cranberry juice may also lower the risk of stomach cancer, by preventing the bacteria H. pylori (a risk factor for stomach cancer) from attaching to stomach lining. (source)
  • Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that may help to lower your blood pressure (source) and it may also help boost immunity by promoting the production of white blood cells. (source)
  • Cranberries also contain vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble antioxidant which may help to protect cells from reduce free radical damage. (source)

This tart fruit is also a great source of fiber, and adds a nice contrast of flavor to your favorite holiday meal– especially when you make this version from scratch!

cranberry sauce recipe overhead with fresh cranberries

How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

To make homemade cranberry sauce, you just need a few easy ingredients. Instead of using white sugar, I like to use maple syrup for sweetness, which adds a rich flavor to the final dish. Paired with orange juice, and fresh ginger, I find this version irresistible!

The main thing you need to know about making cranberry sauce from scratch, is that you can over-cook the cranberries. So don’t leave this recipe unattended on the stove!

The cranberries will burst quickly– usually in about 10 minutes– but you don’t want to go past 15 minutes of cooking or the pectin they contain will start to break down, and the sauce won’t set as well.

mixing cranberries in a pot

The good news is that you can make this sauce ahead of time, so you won’t have to worry about multi-tasking and watching several other dishes at once for a holiday meal. The flavor gets even better as it marinates in the fridge, so I like to make it a day or two beforehand, anyway.

How Long Will Cranberry Sauce Keep?

This homemade cranberry sauce should keep well in the fridge for up to 7 days, when stored in an airtight container. Make sure you always use a clean, dry utensil for serving, to avoid introducing any excess moisture into the jar.

You can also freeze it! If you want to make it in advance, you can freeze it in your favorite glass storage jar for up to 3 months. To thaw, place it in the fridge and let it thaw the night before you plan on serving it.

easy cranberry sauce in a glass bowl for Thanksgiving dinner

How to Sweeten Cranberry Sauce: Alternative Sweeteners

If you don’t have maple syrup on hand, you can swap it for honey instead. Or, you can use 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I like coconut sugar) with 3/4 cup of orange juice instead of the ratios listed in the recipe below.

homemade cranberry sauce in a glass jar
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4.91 from 11 votes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce (Quick & Easy!)

Lightly sweetened with maple syrup and bursting with Fall spice, this nutrient-rich cranberry sauce is sure to be a favorite at your Thanksgiving dinner table!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword homemade cranberry sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 105kcal

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (You can add a little orange zest, if you like, too!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger , finely grated

Instructions

  • Wash the cranberries and discard any soft ones.
  • In a 1 1/2 quart sauce pot, combine the cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice, cinnamon, and ginger. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • The cranberries should burst as they cook, and the sauce will thicken. Be sure to stir often, to make sure nothing sticks to the pan, and press the cranberries against the side of the pan to help them break down and thicken the sauce.
  • Make sure you don't cook the cranberries any longer than 15 minutes, or pectin will start to break down and the sauce will not set as well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a storage container with a lid.
  • Store in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 6 hours before serving. You can make this sauce up to 5 days in advance, to make your holiday meal a little easier!

Nutrition

Calories: 105kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 41IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg
Cranberry Sauce Nutrition (per 1/4 cup): Calories: 105, Fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 26g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 1g

Recipe Notes:

  • This recipe is easily adapted to use what you have on hand, as long as you start with fresh cranberries. I’ve used the juice of half a lemon, to replace the OJ, with good results.
  • If you want to try using another sweetener, please read the notes above the recipe card for swapping honey or a granulated sugar.

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like it. And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too! We can all benefit from your experience.

Reader Feedback: Are you a fan of cranberry sauce? Did you grow up with homemade or canned versions?

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Comments

Rebecca

This recipe looks fantastic! And thanks for sharing that info about not cooking cranberries longer than 15 minutes. I has no idea! I always wondered why my cranberry sauce never thickened as much as I wanted it to… ๐Ÿ™‚

Lisa

Okay, I totally thought I hated cranberry sauce, but I mean it does look pretty nasty coming out of the can. But, this looks delicious. May have to try this one out!

Kristi

I didn’t know that about the pectin, either. Great tip. We take a bit of a pass on T-giving, so I’ll probably make my orange cranberry sauce (it’s a hit with the whole family), but I really appreciate the tip!

Wendy

Thanks for this! The hub and I were just talking about cranberry sauce yesterday!

Do you know how long it might last in the fridge before it needs to be fully eaten? Our first sweetie is due around Thanksgiving, and hub’s parents are visiting then. I’d love to make this up early (e.g. next week) and still have it be a-okay when they are here the following week.

Thank You!

    Megan

    I’m hoping this batch will last us until Thanksgiving, too! I’ve read varying opinions on the shelf-life of cranberry sauce; it sounds like it stores a lot like jam? In that case, it would easily keep in the fridge for up to a month or more. I’ve been considering freezing mine, then thawing it the day before Thanksgiving… but I’m not sure that the consistency will be the same after freezing.

    So, the short answer is… I don’t know. But, I’m pretty sure you could make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge– as long as it doesn’t grow mold or smell “off” it should be fine. Good luck with the new baby!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Felicia

i love making homemade cranberry sauce!! never used lemon- typically use orange zest and honey with ginger, but lemon with maple sounds like a great combo! i already have 4 bags in the freezer waiting to be used ๐Ÿ™‚

Love Phillips

Every year I think I will make the cranberry sauce and haven’t but this year I saw how good yours looks so I tried it and it is Amazing!, I’m taking it to the family dinner along with your pumpkin bars. And some vegan Mac and cheese sauce. Thanks for having so many amazing recipes available . I might try the sugar free challenge.

LaDonn

This looks great – I’ll be making it this year. Thanks for the timing tip!

Any idea of the # of servings? We’ll be 40 family & friends on Thanksgiving.

Pia

I’ve been making a somewhat similar cranberry sauce using grape juice, it’s always a hit and I like to smear the leftovers on bagels and cream cheese

tereza

I made my own cranberry sauce a few years back similar to yours. I used brown sugar instead and added flakes of red pepper. That spicy flavor in the background was soooo good!!

Ps I linked your blog on my monthly learning log. You are a great inspiration in our house. My kids are participating in a cookie contest next week and we will be using one of your recipes. Just don’t know which one yet!! ๐Ÿ™‚

http://www.creatingtreasures.blogspot.com/2012/11/learning-log-of-october-2012.html

Michelle

This is by FAR my favorite cranberry sauce recipe! I never liked the canned stuff and once I made this, I’ve never turned back!! Alton Brown Rocks!

Alana

Try adding jalapeno for a lil kick! Yum! Thanks, Megan!

Brianne

This was awesome! I added some thinly sliced kumquats, but otherwise followed your recipe to the letter, and it was perfect. ๐Ÿ™‚

Holly

Love this recipe!!! I made it and it is super yummy!!! I made a second batch using the orange and added some cayenne pepper too. I I think that version is my favorite!! Thank you for all your amazing recipes!!

Amanda Jewell

When you add the cranberries & cook for 15 min, do you cook them at boil or simmer level?

Carole

Love this recipe! Have been using the other similar versions and variations I have used for years – and as the left overs have used as jam for toast or in the the turkey sandwich BUT now I hardly use any bread at all so very perfect to have this other use for the left over cranberry sauce!

Carole

LOVE the recipe!!

Jenifer

We made this tonight and my hubby liked it better than his mom’s! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I bought and froze about 10 bags of cranberries at the holidays since you can’t get them any other time of year. Looking forward to making this all year long! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Laura

    Did you end up making this with fresh cranberries frozen and then thawed? Did it come out just as good?

Cyndi

As soon as I can get fresh cranberries I do. I usually make the standard sauce and we ate it with everything. Cranberries are very healthy and I love them. So I’m trying this out. It sounds delicious.

gabby

Just made this for our early thanksgiving celebration and my kids liked the pan clean (once it was cooled). So so yummy and so excited to share tomorrow!

Jess

This is incredibly delicious. I liked the spoon, scraped out the sides, and was left wishing I had made more! I have a feeling the rest of the English department will, tomorrow, too…

    Jess

    licked* this is what i get for typing while eating..lol.

Racheal

tons of thanks for sharing this, my 9yr old made this and came out so good, everybody enjoy this, she also suggest that instead of peanut butter jelly sandwich you can replace jelly as cranberry jelly…..love this

Tonia

Hi Megan,
we don’t have fresh cranberries over here. Do you think I could adjust the recepie wih dried cranberries, maybe soaked in water? Would love to hear your opinion on this. Thanks, Tonia

    Ali

    Tonia,
    I, too, live in a country that doesn’t have fresh cranberries. I have tried Megan’s recipe the past two Thanksgivings using dried cranberries, and it is possible, but you have to alter the sweetness since dried cranberries are sweetened already. It seems like I might have added more lemon to balance it as well. I never used exact measurements, so I can’t tell you exactly what I did…I just taste along the way. Just wanted you to know someone else out there had tried it. I’m sure it’s not the same taste exactly as the recipe written, but it is delicious and doable all the same.
    This week I found a bag of fresh cranberries while visiting another city, so this Thanksgiving I’m so excited to actually try the recipe as written!

Cindy oโ€™Brien-Hallberg

Can this recipe be made in the Instant Pot? Hoping Yes!

    Megan Gilmore

    Someone on my Instagram feed just mentioned that they made it in the Instant Pot, but they thought the water should be left out because it doesn’t evaporate in the Instant Pot the way it might on the stove. I think it’s worth a shot!

Samantha

This recipe looks great! I’m super excited to try it this weekend!

Michelle Lemus

This is my all time favorite cranberry recipe! Love the addition on ginger. So yummy!

Joshua Howard

Thank you for this healthy recipe and clear instructions! Can’t wait to try this sauce!

Alicea

Great recipe! Iโ€™ve made this recipe the last few years and itโ€™s always a big hit.

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