Cranberry Sauce



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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. Serve these with my famous stuffing muffins and creamy baked macaroni and cheese.

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.

Ingredients for cranberry sauce

Ingredients for Cranberry Sauce
  1. Fresh cranberries – This is an absolute must. If you can’t find cranberries, frozen will absolutely work.
  2. Vanilla extract – I love vanilla in my cranberry sauce. It adds a depth of flavor that is very lovely.
  3. Kosher salt – We need a balance of salty and sweet and a pinch of salt adds just enough.
  4. Brown sugar – I love the caramel notes brown sugar adds.
  5. Orange juice and zest – The flavors of orange and cranberry are a perfect fit.
  6. Grated ginger – I love fresh ginger in this recipe. It adds a element of spice.

For the rest of the ingredients, please see the recipe card below!

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

  1. Wash your cranberries. I like to do this even if the bag says they’ve been pre-washed. You truly never know!
  2. Add the cranberries to a saucepan.
  3. Zest the orange and then juice the orange. Be sure to zest it before you slice it.
  4. Add the zest, juice, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, water, vanilla extract, ginger and cinnamon stick.
  5. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook it until it begins to bubble up and soften, about 10 minutes.
  6. Using your spatula, pop and agitate the cranberries a bit. I like when it’s a mix of whole cranberries and sauce.
  7. 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.

What to Serve with Cranberry Sauce

If you tried this Cranberry Sauce or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting!

4.89 from 9 votes

Cranberry Sauce

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Classic cranberry sauce is so easy to make. It's a million times better than the canned stuff. This is perfectly spiced with the most delicious hint of vanilla and orange.


  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 silicon spatula


  • 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.


To Make Ahead: 
This recipe is great to make-ahead. Make the recipe in its entirety and transfer to an airtight container. When completely cool, place a lid on it and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat, if you like, over low heat and serve. 
Le Creuset Saucepan | Silicon Spatulas | Microplane | Knife | Cutting Board | OXO Measuring Cups | OXO Measuring Spoons


Calories: 86kcal

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Thanksgiving
Like this Recipe? Please Rate & comment below!

Cozy Latin-Inspired Comfort Food Recipes

Hi! I'm Adrianna and this is my cozy space on the internet that is super-charged by butter, flour and copious amounts of pasta. Stay awhile, will you!

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  1. 5 stars
    Love this cranberry sauce recipe! It was incredibly easy to make on Thanksgiving Day, and my guests ate all of it up. I love the tartness and it’s super easy to sweeten up if you prefer. Obsessed!

  2. 5 stars
    So delicious! Just the right amount of sweetness. Accidentally put in too much ground ginger but it was a happy and yummy accident!

  3. 4 stars
    Definitely make sure to taste it. I ended up needing more sugar as it was too tart but no big deal. Would make again though!!

  4. Hi! This has been my go-to recipe for years, I loved it, but I just noticed that you removed the star anise. Did you happen to make any other changes? Thx!

    1. wow you’re an OG–thank you! the recipe is EXACTLY the same except the star anise. i simply didn’t have it when i re-made this recipe. so feel free to add it if you like! 🙂 and thanks for being here for so long. xoxo

      1. 5 stars
        I came to the comments for the same question. I’ve been making this recipe for several years and love it! Some years I have the star anise and some I don’t. This year I don’t, but I still noticed it wasn’t in the recipe anymore.

  5. Just had to let you know, one year later, that I made this last year and it was a HUGE, HUGE hit!!! Everyone– from my MIL who made decades of old-school style Thanksgiving meals (complete with canned cranberry sauce! Which I also loved!) to my nephews who are the pickiest eaters in all of space and time– loved it!! I’m definitely making it again this year, and always. I make it three days earlier because who needs the added stress and dishes, day of,right? Thanks for the fab recipe!

    1. YAAASSSS! Love this. I’m making this cranberry sauce right now. It’s the PERFECT thing to make a few days ahead. It changes nothing and keeps in the fridge so well.

  6. Made this last year and it was delicious! Making again this year fir Thanksgiving. Thank you for the great recipe. I’m making today with hopes it’ll be fine 3 days later to serve 🙂

  7. It looks like I can make this ahead of time, right? I’m thinking of making this tonight for tomorrow’s dinner. I’ve never had homemade cranberry sauce so I am so excited!

  8. Awesome post! Thank you for sharing! As a “newby” to the kitchen and a newlywed trying to hold her own this holiday (yikes!) I have a quick question for the experts! Can I buy star anise at a local whole foods store or where can I get some? Would it change the taste terribly if I didn’t have it?

    1. Yes! You should be able to buy it at the normal grocery store, but if you can’t find it you can skip it. The dish will still be great.

  9. I just made this last night—-and it is hands down the best cranberry sauce I have ever had!! I made it for a work event this week, and I am pretty sure everyone is going to love me.

  10. Yes!! I loved the canned cranberry sauce as a kid and refused for SO long to try the real, homemade kind. Once I did, I’m pretty sure a choir started singing and I totally got it! I make a pretty similar recipe, too! 🙂