This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is delicious, simple and perfect for Thanksgiving. Fresh cranberries are simmered on the stove with cinnamon, sugar, vanilla and orange zest and juice.
When it comes to Thanksgiving Day recipes, I’m a classics girl. I like classic stuffing, classic turkey, classic mashed potatoes. I have very fond memories of buying canned cranberry sauce, plopping it onto a plate and carefully slicing it in between the can-rivets. For years, even after I got into cooking, I’d still buy cranberry sauce from the can–it was emotional, I think! But now I’ve kinda switched to loving fresh, homemade cranberry sauce.
Cranberry Sauce with Turkey
Cranberry sauce is a necessary flavor component of every Thanksgiving dinner. I mean this seriously. Think about it. Most of the dishes at any Thanksgiving lean on the richer side. We have mashed potatoes full of cream and butter. We have stuffing which is herbaceous but not exactly bright and vibrant. Mac and cheese, sweet potatoes are all savory and rich.
Cranberry sauce on the other hand is bright, tart, sweet and fragrant. It has a job to do on the plate. It’s there to balance out the entire dish.
How to Make Classic Cranberry Sauce
- Wash your cranberries. I like to do this even if the bag says they’ve been pre-washed. You truly never know!
- Add the cranberries to a saucepan.
- Zest the orange and then juice the orange. Be sure to zest it before you slice it.
- Add the zest, juice, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, water, vanilla extract, ginger and cinnamon stick.
- Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook it until it begins to bubble up and soften, about 10 minutes.
- Using your spatula, pop and agitate the cranberries a bit. I like when it’s a mix of whole cranberries and sauce.
- Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. From here you can store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it. Or serve it right away.
Tips and Tricks
- To make this recipe ahead – Cook it and allow it to cool to room temperature completely. Transfer it to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
If you make this recipe, let me know on Instagram!
Looking for more recipes? Here are some favorites:
- Mojo Sheet Pan Turkey
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Stuffing Muffins
- Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie
- French Silk Pie
- 40 Recipes to Make for Thanksgiving
- Apple Cranberry Pie
- Cranberry Morning Rolls
- 1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Juice from 1 orange about 3 to 4 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (from 1/2-inch knob of ginger)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- In a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, add the cranberries.
- Zest the orange and add the zest to the cranberries.
- Squeeze in the orange juice, along with all of the other ingredients.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the cranberries have burst and the sauce has reduced slightly. Give it a taste (be careful, it'll be hot!) and adjust the seasonings. You may want it to be a bit sweeter.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and discard. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill. The cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Keeps in the fridge when stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.