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Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a must on the Thanksgiving table. This homemade cranberry-orange sauce is made with simple ingredients and takes about 10 minutes to make. The addition of orange juice helps balance the flavour for the perfect amount of tartness. It is sure to please a crowd.

Cranberry sauce garnished with orange zest in a white bowl.
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When it comes to Thanksgiving or any turkey dinner for that matter, cranberry sauce is a must.

I love making my own cranberry sauce. It is easy to make and only takes a few minutes.

I know there are some people who will argue that cranberry sauce must come from a can, be jiggly, and be served in the shape of a log complete with the rings from the can still visible. (My step-father is one of these people.).

But I love the texture and tartness of fresh cranberry sauce. Plus there is something so satisfying about making something yourself.


Why We Love This Recipe

It’s easy – Cranberry sauce is so easy to make yourself. All you need to do is add the ingredients to a pot, bring it to a boil then let it cool. Simple!

Simple ingredients – Cranberry sauce is made with simple ingredients that you will be able to find at any grocery store. For the simplest recipe, all you will need is a bag of cranberries, sugar and water. To jazz it up we’ve added orange juice and orange zest to this recipe as it tastes great and balances the flavour of the cranberries nicely.

Better than store-bought! – If you haven’t tried making your own cranberry sauce before you are in for a treat. Homemade cranberry sauce has so much more flavour than the store-bought canned varieties and you can make it as sweet or tart as you like.


Cranberry sauce is made with simple ingredients. You will need:

  • Cranberries – Fresh or frozen will work just fine for this recipe. Just make sure you are purchasing whole berries.
  • Sugar – This recipe uses both brown and white sugar, but you can make it with just one or the other.
  • Orange juice and zest – I use the juice and zest from one large navel orange. You can use commercial orange juice if you don’t want to squeeze your own.
  • Cinnamon – Just half of a teaspoon is all you need, it really compliments the flavour of the cranberries. But you can leave this out if you prefer.
  • Water
Cranberries, fresh oranges, and cinnamon sticks on a table.

If you prefer your cranberry sauce a little sweeter and less tart, you can either leave out the orange zest or increase the sugar a little bit.


There are really only a couple of steps to making cranberry sauce. The part that takes the longest is letting it cool and thicken.

You can serve it as soon as it’s cool, but for best results, I recommend making it the day before and leaving it in the refrigerator overnight.

Begin by adding all of the ingredients to a medium-sized saucepan.

Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat so it maintains a gentle boil.

Cook and stir for 7-10 minutes until most of the berries have popped and the sauce has started to thicken.

Remove the cranberry sauce from the heat and allow it to cool completely before serving.

Pro-Tip – The longer you boil the cranberries the thicker and smoother the sauce will become. It will also continue to thicken as it cools.

Cranberry sauce ingredients in pot

Substitutions & Additions

The great thing about homemade cranberry sauce is there are so many ways to customize it to suit your tastes.

While we’ve used orange in this recipe, and feel it really helps balance the flavours, you can leave that out if you like. Just omit the zest and replace the orange juice with water.

Other ways you can add variation to your cranberry sauce are:

  • Add half of a peeled, diced apple.
  • Add a splash of dark rum or bourbon.
  • Add a handful of raspberries or pomegranate.
  • Add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract.
  • Add cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg.
  • Replace part of the sugar with honey.


Homemade cranberry sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.

It also freezes very well and will store for several months.

Recipes to Make With Cranberry Sauce

While cranberry sauce is delicous as a side dish, it can also be used as an ingredient in both sweet and savoury recipes.

If you have any leftover, some of our favourite recipes using cranbery sauce are:

Bakery swiss roll cake – by Drive Me Hungry
Turkey cranberry sliders – by Fresh Coast Eats
Gluten-free cranberry shortbread bars – by Fearless Dining

You can also add it to smoothies, use it to top baked brie, or enjoy it with some crackers and cheese.

Cranberry sauce with orange zest in a white bowl.


Can I make cranberry sauce with frozen cranberries?

Yes! Either fresh or frozen will work perfectly fine. Just make sure you are selecting whole berries.

More Cranberry Recipes

Printable Recipe

Cranberry sauce garnished with orange zest in a white bowl.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

This homemade cranberry-orange sauce is made with simple ingredients and takes about 10 minutes to make. The addition of orange juice helps balance the flavour for the perfect amount of tartness.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Save Recipe Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 64kcal
Author: Deanna


  • 3 Cups cranberries fresh or frozen
  • ½ Cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ Cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ Cup fresh-squeezed orange juice Juice from one medium orange
  • ¾ Cup water
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon optional


  • Place all ingredients in a saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil. 
  • Cook and stir for 7-10 minutes until most of the berries have popped and the sauce is beginning to thicken.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before serving.


  • This is best made the day before to allow to set in the refrigerator overnight.
  • If you like your sauce sweeter, you can increase the granulated sugar by ¼ cup and/or eliminate the orange zest.
  • If you do not wish to use orange you can omit the orange juice and zest and replace orange juice with ¼ cup of water.
  • This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of cranberry sauce.


Estimated Nutrition Facts
Cranberry Orange Sauce
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Recipe Rating


Saturday 1st of January 2022

This is my new go-to recipe for thanksgiving. I also loved having it on toast the next morning! The orange is a nice unique touch without being over powering. Thanks.


Friday 11th of October 2019

This looks fabulous and is going on the menu. Thank you for letting readers know that they can make my gluten free cranberry shortbread bars with any leftover cranberry sauce :-). Sharing all around.


Friday 11th of October 2019

Thank you so much. I'm so happy to share your delicious recipe.


Friday 11th of October 2019

This cranberry sauce is amazing! I love the orange and cinnamon flavor in this.


Friday 11th of October 2019

I'm so glad you like it. I love the combination of flavours too.