This recipe for homemade cranberry sauce is so simple, all you'll need is cranberries, sugar, and water. You can add extra ingredients like orange zest and maple syrup if you like but this basic cranberry sauce is the perfect starting point for a homemade Thanksgiving dinner. A great make-ahead recipe.
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Complete your Thanksgiving table with this sweet + tangy cranberry sauce!
Today, I'm going to share with you a simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe. It's really so easy and tastes so much better than the store-bought stuff that slides out of the can with a shloop! and then keeps the can shape. No thanks. We can do better. (Unless you prefer that one, then, by all means, get after it, friend 🙂 )
But! 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 base for homemade cranberry sauce.
From here you can spice it up a bit if you want to (check below in substitutions for ideas on what to add to this cranberry sauce to jazz it up and make your own cranberry sauce recipes).
Ingredients you need
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: basic white granulated sugar
- 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 regular, "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.
How to make homemade cranberry sauce
To make this sauce, mix one cup water and one cup 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, I like this Startfrit Slim Scale.
Add in extra extras now (a bit of orange juice or maple syrup, some orange zest or cinnamon)
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.
I'll be posting two new recipes using leftover cranberry sauce this month. You can try this leftover sauce in savory or dessert recipes. I'll be sharing one of each in December!
Recipes using leftover cranberry sauce
Tips and Tricks
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.