Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe
This recipe for classic Cranberry Sauce is so easy and made with just 3 ingredients. No matter how many batches of cranberry sauce I’ve made, I always come back to this one. It’s simple, it’s classic, and it’s really the best.
Once you try homemade cranberry sauce, there’s just no going back to storebought. It’s better in taste, texture, and presentation. Pair this iconic holiday side dish with your Juicy Roast Turkey for a burst of sweet-tart flavor in every bite.
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We love cranberries for the holidays, from Sugared Cranberries (and you can use leftovers to make this cranberry sauce!) to moist and fluffy Cranberry Bread. If you are looking for a go-to cranberry sauce, this is it! Plus, you can change it up in so many different ways and make it your own (see variations below).
Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Homemade Cranberry Sauce is iconic for the holidays and a staple of our Thanksgiving menu every year. Nothing pairs better with Thanksgiving Turkey. The combination of sweet and tangy with savory meats is irresistibly good.
Read on for our tips on how to sweeten this recipe the natural way, without processed sugar. We’ve also included some fun variations to really make this recipe your own because there are a hundred ways to make cranberry sauce.
You don’t need much to make a good cranberry sauce (scroll down to get the full amounts available in the recipe card):
- Sweetener – Use your choice of granulated sugar or a natural sweetener, like honey or maple syrup. My favorite is maple syrup because it adds a nice layer of maple flavor.
- Cranberries – We love making this recipe with whole fresh cranberries. Many grocery stores will carry bags of fresh cranberries when they’re in season.
Pro Tip: You don’t need cornstarch to set this perfect cranberry sauce. Cranberries contain pectin, a natural thickener that is released when the berries are heated. If you simmer the sauce long enough, it will thicken all on its own.
Can I Use Frozen Cranberries?
Yes, this recipe will work with frozen cranberries, too. Frozen cranberries will take a little longer to come to a boil and simmer, but the texture always turns out just as delicious.
It’s easy to freeze fresh cranberries in the bags they came in (or transfer them to a freezer bag). They’ll keep frozen for up to a year, and we almost always have a stash in our freezer.
How to Make Cranberry Sauce from Scratch
We just love how quickly this recipe comes together on the stovetop. It’s just 3 steps:
- Dissolve the Sugar – In a saucepan, combine your sweetener of choice with water on the stovetop, and bring it to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Add Cranberries and Cook – Add the cranberries to the pot and let them come to a low boil, then cook, uncovered, until the sauce thickens. Remember to stir occasionally.
- Cool and Serve – Stir in additional sweetener to taste, then leave the cranberry sauce to cool. See below for easy serving suggestions.
Pro Tip: If your cranberry sauce still tastes a bit bitter or too tart after it’s cooked, you can add more sweetener to taste.
My favorite variation is this classic and simple version, but there are so many ways you can change up and enjoy this sauce. Below are more easy variations and add-in ideas (see the recipe card for more detailed instructions):
- Cranberry Orange Sauce
- Lemon zest and freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- Orange zest and orange juice
- Dried cherries and pecans
Cranberry relish is generally more bitter, made from raw cranberries that are minced up in a food processor.
Yes! Less sugar or added sweetness will result in a more tart and tangy sauce. Start with ½ cup of sweetener and add more to taste.
Homemade cranberry sauce freezes beautifully (see below), so go ahead and make a double batch if you’d like to have extras.
Ways to Serve Cranberry Sauce
We’ll often serve this homemade sauce cold or at room temperature. Here are just some of the many ways to enjoy it:
- Roasts – Pair it with succulent roasts like your Roast Turkey, Beef Tenderloin, or Pork Tenderloin.
- Stuffing – it pairs great with Thanksgiving stuffing.
- Bread – Spread the sauce over fluffy Dinner Rolls or even over toast in the morning. It’s also great to spread in a Chicken Salad sandwich.
- Topping – Cranberries make a great topping for desserts like Cheesecake.
This classic condiment keeps well for days after it’s made. Here’s how to store your leftovers:
- To Refrigerate: Store the cooled cranberries airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Freezing: You can freeze homemade cranberry sauce for up to 2 months. Seal it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag to store, and defrost it in the fridge before serving.
We can’t wait for you to try this simple, yet unbelievably tangy and tasty 3-ingredient cranberry sauce.
More Cranberry Recipes
Can’t get enough cranberries for the holidays? Check out even more easy cranberry recipes:
- Sparkling Cranberry Pineapple Punch
- Cranberry Orange Scones
- Cranberry Bundt Cake
- Sweet Potato Kale Salad with Cranberries
- Apple Cranberry Danish
Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup granulated sugar, or 3/4 cup honey or maple syrup, plus more to taste
- 3/4 cup water
- 12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
Optional add-ins at the start of cooking:
- 2 wide strips of lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 wide strips of orange zest, plus 1/4 cup juice
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- In a large saucepan, combine sugar (or maple syrup or honey) and water. Set over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add cranberries and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 12-15 minutes.
- Add more maple syrup, honey, or sugar to taste if needed, then remove from heat and cool sauce to room temperature before serving.
- To Store: Once cranberry sauce has cooled to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.