This simple cranberry sauce is the perfect addition to a homemade Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and makes a great make-ahead recipe. All you'll need are two ingredients - cranberries and sugar. Make it a day or two before your Christmas dinner and keep it in the fridge so you'll all be ready to go.
Today, I'm going to share with you a simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe. It's really so easy and, in my opinion, tastes so much better than the store-bought stuff.
So, if you have two ingredients, namely sugar, and cranberries, then all you need to add is water and you've got yourself the start of a perfect homemade cranberry sauce.
From here you can spice it up a bit if you want to. Check below in the substitutions section of this post for ideas on what to add to this cranberry sauce to jazz it up and make your own cranberry sauce recipes.
Use the table of contents below to jump to any section of this blog post, including information about the ingredients, substitutions you can make, how to store this recipe, step-by-step photos, and a printable recipe card. You can also use the jump to recipe link above to get right to the card.
Just two, plus water. Check below for other ingredients you could add, for example, if you wanted to make a cranberry sauce with orange.
- Cranberries: either fresh cranberries or frozen cranberries work here
- Sugar: white granulated sugar
- Water: You'll also need a bit of water
- Cranberries: I mean, if you sub these out for something else it's no longer cranberry sauce but you can make a really great fruit jam or jelly in that case
- Sugar: I always use white sugar, at least in part, because cooking it thickens it. Sometimes I add in some brown sugar or maple syrup just for the flavor it adds. I just replace an equal amount of the white sugar.
- Add-ins: My own "Go-to, Impress the Guests, Perfect Christmas Dinner Cranberry Sauce" has orange juice and orange zest, maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon. I love this cranberry sauce and get compliments on it every time. It always ends up being one of my favorite recipes Thanksgiving day. Try adding any of those ingredients in your own sauce.
To make this sauce, mix one cup of water and one cup of sugar together in a small or medium pot. Heat the pot over medium-high and bring to a boil, so that the sugar dissolves.
Add the cranberries. If you're using fresh cranberries then it's a whole bag (12 oz). If you're using frozen, then you'll have to weigh it out first. My frozen cranberries come in a bag bigger than 12 oz.
I use my kitchen scale often, and it's perfect for times like this. I like this Startfrit Slim Scale.
Add in any extras now
- a bit of orange juice
- orange zest
- maple syrup
Just keep the ratios of liquid to cranberries to sweeteners about the same. Adjust the ingredients to your preference.
Bring everything to a boil and then turn the heat down and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens and the cranberries start to soften. The cranberries will start to pop and break apart on their own, but I like to help them along once they're softened enough.
Use a wooden spoon and stir every minute or so. Towards the end of the cooking time, use the back of your wooden spoon to crush the cranberries against the side of the pot.
Once ten minutes are up, let the sauce cool and then refrigerate it. I like to serve mine halfway between chunky and smooth but you can blend this once it cools to room temperature if you like a smoother cranberry sauce.
This recipe is a great one to make the day ahead of a special dinner because it keeps well in the fridge for days.
Recipes using leftover cranberry sauce
You can blend this sauce in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender to get a super smooth cranberry sauce or leave it chunky and textured, it's all up to you.
Use leftovers in other savory or sweet recipes. You can try substituting the peanut butter and banana with cream cheese and cranberry sauce in my Peanut Butter Banana French Toast Rollups. Spoon the leftovers on top of yogurt and granola for a quick breakfast. You can use it in muffins, pancakes, and oatmeal also.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 12 oz cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- In a medium pot, mix together the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the cranberries and any optional ingredients, and then bring the pot back to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to medium and let gently bubble for about 10 minutes.
- Stir often and use a wooden spoon to crush softened cranberries against the side of the pan.
- When the time is up, remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
- You can blend it if you want a smoother sauce.
- Store in the fridge until serving.
Nutritional information is an estimate. Values vary based on products used.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you.
This post was originally posted on November 17, 2020. Updated December 20, 2021, to provide clearer recipe information and nutritional information, and a recipe video. The recipe has not changed.