Pass the cranberry sauce! Made with fresh or frozen berries, this easy cranberry sauce recipe is a staple Thanksgiving side dish and an extra treat at Christmas.
Of all the holiday side dishes, a classic cranberry sauce is usually the most maligned. And who can blame them – especially when it comes from a can. Luckily, I’m always on hand to bring out my fresh cranberry sauce recipe whenever the holiday season rolls around.
Cranberries recipes for Thanksgiving are a dime a dozen – and increasingly inventive. But I’m sticking with the staple and creating cranberry sauce from scratch that’s both delicious AND great with turkey.
Is Cranberry Sauce Good for You
A homemade cranberry sauce retains much of the health benefits of this amazing little berry. Cranberries – and cranberry dishes made at home, not from a can – are full of antioxidants, as well as Vitamin C, E, K, and A.
Cranberries are considered a superfood. When incorporated into cranberry recipes, they can still help support heart health, help with urinary tract health, support gut health and even help keep your mouth and teeth healthy!
Ingredients for Cranberry Sauce
This delicous homemade sauce requires just a few staple ingredients.
- Fresh or frozen cranberries: Fresh cranberry sauce doesn’t have to be made with fresh cranberries. Use whatever you have to hand.
- Sugar: I prefer to use granulated or caster sugar so it dissolves faster, though you can use brown sugar, cane sugar, or even maple syrup.
- Water: filtered or tap water is fine.
- Orange juice: You can substitute this with more water. But I love the citrus sweetness that cuts through a tart Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.
- Orange zest (optional): Go for the zest from larger, eating oranges – you buy less but get more zest!
- Cinnamon: I like to use ground cinnamon. Though you can also use mixed spice or nutmeg if you don’t have cinnamon or cinnamon stick.
Can I Use Frozen Cranberries for Cranberry Sauce
Yes! Making cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries or frozen doesn’t really change the taste of the finished product. You don’t even have to thaw your frozen fruit too much either. The best cranberry recipes (including mine) can be made with the fruit in any state.
How to Make Cranberry Sauce
For this fresh cranberry sauce recipe, start by zesting and juicing your orange.
Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a soft boil over medium heat. Stir to allow the sugar to dissolve. Boil for 10- 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The Thanksgiving cranberry sauce will begin to thicken as the berries start to pop, creating the texture of a cranberry jam.
Taste test before removing from the heat. The homemade cranberry sauce will continue to thicken even after it’s been removed from the heat.
Transfer to a serving bowl and let cool down.
Is Cranberry Sauce Served Hot or Cold
Traditionally, cranberries for Thanksgiving are served cold or at room temperature. This orange cranberry sauce makes a nice palate cleanser amongst all the hot food at a holiday dinner.
How Long Does Homemade Cranberry Sauce Last
Like most simple cranberry sauce recipes, this one is not designed to last very long. If making cranberry sauce ahead of time, it will keep for up to 2 weeks in an unopened, sterilized container in the fridge. Once opened, useit within 4 days.
Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce
Yes! Thanksgiving cranberry sauce freezes very well. First, make sure the cranberry sauce cools to room temperature. Store in an air-tight freezer-friendly container for up to 4-6 months. You can even store in ice cube trays for small portions of this cranberry sauce recipe.
To use, simply defrost in the fridge overnight and enjoy.
What Is Cranberry Sauce Used For
Homemade cranberry sauce isn’t just for the holidays! Here are some of my favorite ways to use my fresh cranberry sauce recipe:
- Serve with Thanksgiving or a Christmas dinner roast, where turkey is traditional. Though it pairs well with other white meats, like chicken.
- For a festive, vegan alternative dinner, drizzle cranberry sauce over this delicious Stuffed Butternut Squash – which uses fresh cranberries inside too.
- You can also use it as a drizzle over a Christmas Mushroom Wellington.
- Add it as a zingy dip or jam to a Cheese Board. Homemade cranberry sauce is a beautiful compliment to creamy cheeses like brie, goat (chevre), and even cheddar cheese.
- Whip up a festive bread pudding. But swap out the traditional currants or sultanas and replace them with fresh cranberries and plenty of Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.
What to Do with Leftover Cranberry Sauce
Is it just me who thinks the leftovers are better than the meal itself?
- Make festive leftover turkey sandwiches using leftover turkey (or chicken) and using homemade cranberry sauce in place of butter or mayo.
- Replace the jam or sauce in a yogurt parfait with a drizzle of cranberry sauce.
- Top your pancakes with it alongside some forest fruits.
- Stir into a vinaigrette for a tart, zesty salad dressing.
- Drizzle over some fresh Christmas cookies. Or even incorporate cranberry sauce and the fresh berries into the recipe, like with my Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies.
Try cooking it for longer – this will encourage it to thicken. If it doesn’t, use a little tapioca or cornstarch.
No. Just store it in a clean, sterilized jar/container in the refrigerator, unopened. Once opened, it will be good for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen if you’re making it in advance.
Yes, but the texture will be different and cooking times may change. There may also be a lot more sugar in canned cranberries.
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes
If you try this Thanksgiving cranberry sauce recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 14.4 oz cranberries 4 cups, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup water
- 6.6 oz white sugar 1 cup
- 1 orange zest and juice (1/2 cup juice)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon powder
This will yield about 2.5 cups (25 oz/710 g)
- Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a soft boil over medium heat. Stir to allow the sugar to dissolve.
- Boil for 10- 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The Thanksgiving cranberry sauce will begin to thicken as the berries burst open, creating the texture of a cranberry jam.Taste test before removing from the heat. The homemade cranberry sauce will continue to thicken even after it's been removed from the heat.Finally, transfer it to a serving bowl and let cool down.
- Fridge: It will keep for up to 2 weeks in an unopened, sterilized container in the fridge. Once opened, use it within 4 days.Freezer: Store in an air-tight freezer-friendly container or ice cube trays for up to 4-6 months. To use, simply defrost in the fridge overnight and enjoy.