Cranberry Sauce

Published Date: November 14, 2023

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This tart and sweet Cranberry Sauce only requires 6 ingredients and 20 minutes! The perfect side dish to add to any of your holiday meals!

With just a few simple ingredients like fresh cranberries, sugar, and water, you can create a flavorful and iconic sauce that will impress your guests. Settle that canned vs homemade debate once and for all!

Cranberry sauce is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season- I love to use it as a dip for my turkey, with my mashed potatoes, on its own, or even as a spread on sandwiches! While it’s convenient to buy the jarred sauce, nothing beats homemade.

spoon full of cranberry sauce above bowl of cranberry sauce

What is Cranberry Sauce?

Cranberry sauce is a classic side dish that is often served during holiday meals, especially Thanksgiving. It is made by cooking cranberries with sugar and water until the berries burst and the mixture thickens. The result is a tart and sweet sauce that pairs perfectly with savory dishes like turkey, ham, or roasted vegetables. Homemade cranberry sauce is easy to make and adds a delicious flavor to any meal!

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Cranberry Sauce Ingredients

  • Orange Juice
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Cranberries
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Salt

How To Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Step One: Combine orange juice, sugar, and water in a sauce pan over medium heat.

Step Two: When liquid mixture is warm, add in cranberries and the cinnamon stick. Heat until boiling, then reduce heat. Continuously stir until all the cranberries pop. Remove from heat.

Step Three: Remove the cinnamon stick from the mixture and transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator before enjoying!

Cranberry Sauce FAQ’s

Can I make cranberry sauce ahead of time?

Yes. Cranberry sauce can be prepped and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week in advance.

Can I freeze cranberry sauce?

Absolutely! Cranberry sauce is extremely simple to freeze. Just put it in a freezer safe dish or bag, remove all of the air, and freeze for up to 2 months. Allow the sauce to thaw at room temperature before serving.

Do I have to pop the cranberries or will they pop on their own?

The cranberries will pop on their own as you stir them over heat.

Do I have to use orange juice?

Not necessarily! I prefer the flavor combination of orange juice and cranberries as they compliment each other nicely, but you can substitute the orange juice for lemon juice.

Can I add less sugar?

Yes! Using less sugar makes a more tangy and tart sauce. Start with as little as 1/2 cup of sugar and add more to taste.

Cranberry Sauce Storage Instructions

Cranberry sauce can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week., or frozen for up to two months. If freezing, let the cranberry sauce thaw at room temperature before serving. This recipe can be prepped ahead, so you won’t have to worry about it last minute on Thanksgiving morning!

spoon full of cranberry sauce above bowl of cranberry sauce

Classic Cranberry Sauce

5 from 1 vote
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 people


  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • pinch salt


  • Combine the orange juice, water, and granulated sugar in a saucepan, then heat over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Once the liquid is warm, mix in the fresh or frozen cranberries and a cinnamon stick.
  • Heat the mixture to boiling, then immediately turn it down to medium heat. Continuously stir the cranberries as they simmer for 10 to 15 mins, or until all the cranberries pop.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick from the cranberry sauce, then transfer the cranberry sauce to a serving bowl. Allow the sauce to cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then enjoy!


  • There is no need to squish the cranberries against the side of the saucepan, they should pop on their own.

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Gabby Hubbell Family Busy Family Recipes Author

From one busy family to another, I see you.

Hi, I’m Gabby! From crockpots to one-pot recipes, we’re eager to make dinner time a breeze for you and your family. Follow along for recipes even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy time and time again!
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