No Thanksgiving feast is complete without cranberry sauce! It add a vibrant, festive color to the meal, and the tartness from the cranberries helps balance the heaviness of the other dishes. My homemade cranberry sauce comes together in less than 20 minutes and has only four ingredients: cranberries, sugar, maple syrup, and an orange. It doesn’t get any easier than this!
Cranberry sauce is more than just a holiday condiment. When it comes to balancing the flavors of Thanksgiving, it’s arguably one of the most important parts of the meal. The acidity from the cranberries cuts through the richness of the other ingredients. The carbs, the fat, the stuff that puts us to sleep.
Homemade cranberry sauce is tart, sweet, crisp and refreshing. This is part of the reason it tastes good with almost everything else on the table. It brightens up turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and so on. It’s like the ketchup of Thanksgiving.
Now, I know many people prefer canned cranberry sauce, and that’s fine! But if you’ve always wanted to try making it from scratch, I’ve got the perfect recipe for you.
How to Make Cranberry Sauce
This sauce is so easy. All you do is simmer the ingredients in a saucepan, stirring periodically, until the sauce thickens slightly and most of the cranberry skins have popped. The whole process takes less than 15 minutes, then you want to let the sauce cool before serving so it has a chance to finish thickening.
This cranberry sauce is perfect as is, but you can certainly jazz it up a bit. Some optional add-ins to consider: 1 cinnamon stick (remove before serving), 1 cup chopped pecans (toasted for best flavor), 1 cup roughly chopped orange segments (white pith and seeds removed). Add any or all of these while the sauce is simmering.
Can cranberry sauce be made ahead of time?
Yes, you can make this up to one week in advance. After the sauce cools, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I recommend serving the sauce at room temperature, so let it sit out for a bit before serving or briefly warm it in the microwave.
Can cranberry sauce be frozen?
Homemade cranberry sauce freezes very well. I recommend using an airtight container or resealable plastic bag to prevent freezer burn. For best results, use frozen cranberry sauce within 2-3 months. Before serving, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
More Thanksgiving Recipes
If you like this cranberry sauce, don’t miss my pumpkin slab pie, Italian sausage cornbread stuffing, and pecan pie bars! Also, here are a ton of additional Thanksgiving recipe ideas from The Washington Post.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (approximately 1 orange)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, picked through (frozen cranberries may be substituted)
- In a medium saucepan, bring the maple syrup, sugar, zest, orange juice, and salt to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula.
- Add the cranberries and simmer until slightly thickened and two-thirds of berries have burst, stirring periodically, about 5 minutes. Be careful; the cranberries may cause the hot liquid to splatter as they pop. Watch your hands and face as you stir.
- When the sauce is ready, transfer to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. (Note: you can place the sauce in the refrigerator to speed up the process).
- Cranberry sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Optional add-ins while simmering: 1 cinnamon stick (remove before serving), 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans, 1 cup roughly chopped orange segments
More Thanksgiving Recipes
Don't miss my pumpkin slab pie, Italian sausage cornbread stuffing, and pecan pie bars!
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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