This Cranberry Sauce recipe is so incredibly easy to make with just 4 ingredients and the taste is so much better than canned or jarred!

Prepare cranberry sauce months ahead of time and keep it in the freezer. Simply thaw and serve on the big day!

bowl of Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Is So Easy

This cranberry sauce recipe is both sweet and tart and tastes so much better than a can! Serve it at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. It goes great with roast turkey, goose, Cornish game hens, or even ham.

  • It’s super easy to make. No prep is needed.
  • Can be made as a whole berry sauce or smooth.
  • Use fresh or frozen berries.
  • Can be made months ahead and frozen.

Once you make it homemade, I almost guarantee you’ll never buy canned cranberry sauce again (unless you’re using it to make cocktail meatballs).

Cranberry Sauce uncooked in pot

Ingredients for Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries – Cranberries are the star and fresh or frozen taste exactly the same in this recipe. If using frozen, there is no need to thaw first.

Cinnamon – I love to add a cinnamon stick to the mix, if you don’t have one, add a small pinch of ground cinnamon or even apple pie spice!

Sugar – Cranberries are very tart so sugar is needed to balance the flavor. White sugar or brown sugar work. This cranberry sauce recipe can be made with sweetener, maple syrup, or honey in place of sugar.

Liquid – A bit of water is needed to cook the cranberries. Replace water with juice like orange juice or apple apple juice.


  • Juices – We use water or orange juice but use your favorite juice like pineapple or apple juice.
  • Zest – Stir in some lemon or orange zest or orange peel for some extra flavor.
  • Fruit – Add chopped apples, pears, a slice of ginger, or even chopped pecans.
  • Spices – Play with the spices and add a pinch of nutmeg, or allspice.
  • Boozy – Substitute a tablespoon or so of the o.j. with something boozy, a splash of Grand Marnier, a dash of rum, or a bit of brandy.
Cranberry Sauce in pot with cinnamon

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

It’s so easy!

  1. Place cranberries, sugar, and water (or juice) in a saucepan with a cinnamon stick per the recipe below.
  2. Simmer (you’ll hear the cranberries start to pop) and stir for about 10 minutes.
  3. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.
Serving homemade cranberry sauce with a spoon

Recipe Notes

  • Water produces a more traditional flavor while orange juice makes it zestier.
  • This cranberry sauce recipe will thicken as it cools.
  • If you’d like a smooth sauce, place the warm mixture into a mesh strainer and strain it into a bowl. Press the cranberries with a spoon to remove as much juice as possible.

How to Freeze Cranberry Sauce

Stock up on cranberries when they show up at your local supermarket because they have multiple uses all year round from sour cream cranberry bars to cranberry trifle or even toss them into smoothies.

Fresh cranberries will last up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator and they can be frozen for up to a year as long as they are sealed in an airtight bag.

Prep the cranberry sauce up to 3 months ahead of time and freeze. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

A bowl of homemade cranberry sauce

Did your family love this homemade Cranberry Sauce? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

A spoon in a bowl of homemade cranberry sauce

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Easy Cranberry Sauce

Nothing says ‘holidays’ quite like the tangy flavor of a fresh, homemade cranberry sauce!

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 10 minutes

Total Time 15 minutes

  • 12 ounces cranberries about 3 cups
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water or orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • In a medium pot, combine cranberries, sugar, water, and the cinnamon stick.

  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes uncovered.

  • Remove the cinnamon stick and discard. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until chilled.

Frozen cranberries do not need to be thawed.

Water produces a more traditional flavor while orange juice makes it zestier.

The cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

This is a whole berry sauce, for a smooth texture, place the warm sauce into a mesh strainer and strain it into a bowl pressing the cranberries to remove as much juice as possible. 

Make this sauce weeks (or months) ahead of time and freeze. Thaw overnight and serve for the big day.

Calories: 131 | Carbohydrates: 33g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 98mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 21.1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 0.2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Sauce, Side Dish

Cuisine American

© Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my photo use policy here.

plated tart Cranberry Sauce with a title
close up of Cranberry Sauce with writing
bowl of Cranberry Sauce with writing
adding cinnamon and spices to make Cranberry Sauce and plated dish with a title

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

See more posts by Holly

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