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5 from 8 votes

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Skip the can and make this easy homemade cranberry sauce from fresh (or frozen) whole cranberries, sugar, and just a hint of cinnamon and orange. It's perfect for Thanksgiving or your holiday dinner table and so much better than store bought. Plus, it only takes about 10 minutes to make.
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time12 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 125kcal
Author: Amy Nash


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries, (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Zest of 1 orange, optional
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Combine the sugar, water, and orange juice in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  
  • Add the whole cranberries (no need to thaw first if using frozen berries; see note below about holding some in reserve for whole cranberry sauce), cinnamon stick, orange zest, if using, and salt. Bring to a boil for 1 minute before reducing the heat to medium low and simmering for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries have burst.
  • Remove the pan from heat, take out the cinnamon stick, and stir in the vanilla extract. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before transferring to a container to chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Garnish with orange zest, if desired.


  • Make-ahead instructions: This recipe can be made 7-10 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve cold or at room temperature.
  • Freezing instructions: You can freeze cranberry sauce for 2-3 months. Be sure to let it thaw on the counter for a few hours or overnight in the fridge before serving.
  • Substitutions: Do not use dried cranberries to make this recipe. You won't get the same results.
  • Jellied cranberry sauce: You can cook the berries an additional 10 minutes and mash them well, then press through a fine mesh sieve for more of a jellied version. Pour the gel into a bowl, jar, or mini loaf pan lined with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray and chill for 3 hours to mold into a sliceable shape.
  • Whole cranberry sauce: You can reserve ¼ of the cranberries to add at the end if you would like more of a whole berry approach for texture and bursts of tartness.


Calories: 125kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 70mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 58IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg