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This homemade cranberry sauce recipe tastes better than the canned version, and you can make it ahead of time for an easy holiday side dish. All you need is 15 minutes of effort!

homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl.

Fresh cranberry sauce tastes 100% better than the kind you’d buy at the store, and it’s surprisingly easy to make on the stovetop. There are no thickeners required!

Instead of using white sugar, this recipe is made with pure maple syrup. It adds a rich flavor you’ll love, without tasting too sweet.

Cranberry sauce keeps well in the fridge for up to 7 days, and since you can serve it chilled, it’s easy to grab and set on the table in time for your Thanksgiving meal.

Ingredients You’ll Need

cranberry sauce ingredients.

All you need is 5 simple ingredients to make the best cranberry sauce ever. The maple syrup balances out the tartness of the fresh cranberries, and fresh ginger takes the flavor to the next level.

Feel free to add in some orange zest when you use fresh orange juice, for an extra boost of orange flavor. You can also add in any extra spices you like, such as a pinch of nutmeg or cloves.

How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Add the cranberries to a fine mesh strainer, and rinse them well. Remove any berries that look soft or bruised.

cranberries rinsed and added to pan.

Transfer the cranberries to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the maple syrup, orange juice, cinnamon, and ginger.

Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat and let the cranberries simmer, stirring often.

The cranberries will start to pop and burst as they cook. 

cranberry sauce cooked in white saucepan.

After 5 to 10 minutes of cooking and stirring, the cranberries should be soft enough to mash against the bottom and side of the pot. Use the spatula to mash them as you stir. (Feel free to leave some whole, too. The texture is up to you!)

Important Note: Don’t let the cranberries cook for longer than 15 minutes, or the pectin that the cranberries contain may start to break down. This can prevent the sauce from thickening as it chills.

cooked cranberry sauce in white saucepan.

Once the cranberry sauce has thickened on the stove, remove it from the heat and let it cool. Let it rest in a serving bowl if you plan on serving it soon, or transfer it to an airtight container, and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

The cranberry sauce will thicken even more when it’s cold. Serve the cranberry sauce chilled straight from the refrigerator, or let it come to room temperature for an hour on the counter before serving.

cranberry sauce in a white bowl served with gold spoon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

Yes, cranberry sauce freezes well. Store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before serving again.

How do you use the leftovers?

Spread extra cranberry sauce on leftover turkey sandwiches, turn it into a salad dressing, or use it as a filling for cranberry crumble bars. It would also make a delicious topping for pancakes, waffles, or peanut butter toast.

Can I use a different sweetener?

If you’d like to use granulated sugar, like brown sugar, replace the maple syrup with 3/4 cup brown sugar plus 3/4 cup water. Honey may also work as a swap if you have that on hand, but you might not need quite as much in that case, since it’s sweeter than maple syrup.

Need more Thanksgiving recipes? Try Wild Rice Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole, or my favorite Holiday Salad topped with apples and pecans.

cranberry sauce in a white bowl served with gold spoon.

Easy Cranberry Sauce

4.98 from 36 votes
Homemade cranberry sauce tastes a million times better than the kind you'd buy in a can. All you need is a few simple ingredients to make it!
prep5 mins cook15 mins total20 mins


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup orange juice*
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger , finely grated


  • 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 information is for 1 of 8 servings, about a 1/4 cup each. This information is automatically calculated, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
* If you use the juice from a fresh orange, you can also add in some of the zest for extra orange flavor. It’s delicious, either way!


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
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade cranberry sauce

If you try this homemade cranberry sauce recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.

Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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  1. This is the most delicious recipe for cranberry sauce!! I can’t believe I haven’t made this before. My husband absolutely loved it. I thought we might have leftovers to make your cranberry crumble bars (haven’t made yet either – don’t know why because ALL of your recipes are fantastic!) But, we devoured the whole recipe just the two of us! YUM! Guess I will have to make more! Thanks, Megan, for all your outstanding recipes!! It’s so much appreciated!

  2. I followed the recipe exactly and it turn out so good, like a million times better than store bought! Most pleased with the result

  3. Very easy to make! Your instructions are spot on. I appreciated the heads up about not over cooking the cranberries. It is delicious!

  4. This was the EASIEST and YUMMIEST cranberry sauce to make! I actually got it recipe done in about 8-9 min and used only half the maple syrup just because I like it a little more tart. I also added a cinnamon stick and it’s delicious! I added the sauce with some orange juice and something sparkling (could be alcoholic) to make a festive a drink