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!

4.88 from 8 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. I love homemade cranberry sauce, simple like this. So sad that I can’t find fresh/whole/frozen cranberries here in the UK…

    1. Try Morrisons… I don’t know where you live but there is one in Peterborough and I saw cranberries there a few days ago… I am going tonight to buy some I hope they have them

  2. Yummy, I’m getting excited here! This is what I always bring to a friend’s house every year, and it is always a big hit. There’s something about the combination of turkey and cranberry sauce that’s made in heaven. But I’ll have to try incorporating brown sugar too. Orange zest really kicks it over the top! As far as the canned stuff goes…YES! The little girl in me still secretly hopes that it will be there. Along with the canned Lindsey black olives.

  3. I never knew I loved cranberry sauce until a few years ago. I think the can glop always freaked me out as a child rather than fascinated me. Homemade is so much better and not all alien-looking! Yay!

  4. PIE WEEK! YESSSSS! Getting ready to test out pie recipes for T-Day. You rock my mismatched socks! I’m excited. 🙂

  5. I loved canned cranberry sauce too! Now I make my own, but there is definitely a flashback to childhood when you think of canned cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.

  6. Cranberry sauce is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I have to make it every year! And I am so looking forward to pie week.

  7. I got excited this week and ordered a Thanksgiving sandwich at a local deli. Thick turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce on a pretzel roll. Amazing! Yes, it definitely needed cranberry sauce. I like the classic too.