Let’s talk about one of the most talked about holiday side dishes: cranberry sauce.
Whether you make your own homemade cranberry sauce or buy premade canned cranberry sauce, one thing’s certain… it’s a controversial side dish that a lot of people don’t seem to get / cannot get behind.
I, however, love cranberry sauce… but only when it’s made from scratch. Today, we’ll talk about how you can make the best cranberry sauce for your family and friends this holiday season!
Why you’ll love this homemade cranberry sauce
Made with fresh ingredients. Between the fresh cranberries, fresh orange juice, and fresh orange zest you’ll be in heaven!
Can be customized to your liking. With canned cranberry sauce, you don’t really get to change or alter the sweetness or flavor. Making homemade cranberry sauce allows you to customize everything to your liking!
So easy to make. This homemade cranberry sauce recipe requires little to no work and is a mostly hand’s off recipe! Plus, it comes together in just under 20 minutes.
To make my homemade cranberry sauce, you’ll need:
- Cranberries – Whether you use fresh cranberries or frozen cranberries is up to you! I’ve found that fresh cranberries tend to give your homemade cranberry sauce a more lumpy consistency while frozen cranberries give you a more smooth consistency. Not saying you can’t reach a smooth consistency with fresh, it’ll just take a little longer!
- Orange juice – I love using freshly squeezed orange juice in my cranberry sauce. To me, there’s nothing better. You get fresh OJ as well as a bit of pulp from the orange juice for a bit of added flavor.
- Orange zest – While you could use dried orange zest, I like to zest an orange right before I serve homemade cranberry sauce. It adds a pop of color and a bit more orange flavor.
- Spices – You’ll need cinnamon sticks and whole cloves for this cranberry sauce recipe!
- Vanilla bean paste – Vanilla bean paste has more flavor than vanilla bean extract. You can swap it if you don’t have any, but if you do have some vanilla bean paste in your cabinets, I recommend using that!
- Brown sugar – Skip the granulated sugar and use brown sugar when making your own cranberry sauce for more depth of flavor. Feel free to use light or dark brown sugar.
- Maple syrup – Just a touch of maple syrup is used! You don’t need a lot, just a little bit for added flavor.
- Water – Helps with the consistency.
Typically, that’s all I’ll use when making my own cranberry sauce. However, I did say it’s a recipe that can be customized and wanted to share a few alterations you can adapt to make the perfect cranberry sauce for you.
Some of my favorite alterations include…
- Adding fresh pineapple.
- Adding mulling spices into your cranberry sauce.
- Adding thinly sliced apples.
- Using different types of chile powders (like ancho and guajillo) to give it a kick.
- Adding in a bit of balsamic vinegar to bring some umami to the dish.
Again, these are just a few alterations that I’ve done – there are so many more cranberry sauce recipes to try! If you’ve tried any of the alterations listed above or have some that you’d love to share, leave a comment down below! I’d love to hear what you do to your homemade cranberry sauce.
How to make this homemade cranberry sauce recipe
Before you can start making your fresh cranberry sauce, you need to prep the ingredients!
Begin by juicing and zesting an orange and rinse the cranberries. Then add the brown sugar, fresh or frozen cranberries, fresh orange juice, spices, and water to a medium saucepan. Heat on medium until the mixture begins to boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 10 minutes, you’ll notice that all of the cranberries have bursted and the mixture has started to reduce. At this point, you’ll want to add in the maple syrup and vanilla bean paste. Gently stir the mixture together and remove from heat. Feel free to press down on the cranberries to obtain a smoother consistency during this step if that’s what you’re after!
Let your cranberry sauce cool for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle the orange zest (or some orange peel) on top and serve!
Frequently asked questions
What should I do with my leftover cranberry sauce?
If you didn’t finish your classic cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner (or Christmas dinner), it can be saved to use in a multitude of recipes!
Make a turkey cranberry sandwich out of it, spoon it over some yogurt, top your pancakes with it… the possibilities are endless.
How long will cranberry sauce last?
Store any leftover cranberry sauce in an airtight container for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to a month and a half.
Can I make my cranberry sauce ahead of time?
You most certainly can! Because cranberry sauce will last up to two weeks in the fridge (if stored properly), you can make it up to two weeks in advance.Print
How to Make Cranberry Sauce
Listen, canned cranberry sauce isn’t that great. Homemade cranberry sauce, though? Top tier side dish. You’ll want to save this recipe for later!
- Prep Time: 5 Minutes
- Time Spent Cooling: 10
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 Minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- 1 bag (12 oz) fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 orange, juiced and zested
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 TBSP maple syrup
- 1 TBSP vanilla bean paste
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- Begin by juicing and zesting an orange and rinse the cranberries. Then add the brown sugar, fresh or frozen cranberries, fresh orange juice, spices, and water to a medium saucepan. Heat on medium until the mixture begins to boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 10 minutes, you’ll notice that all of the cranberries have bursted and the mixture has started to reduce. At this point, you’ll want to add in the maple syrup and vanilla bean paste. Gently stir the mixture together and remove from heat. Feel free to press down on the cranberries to obtain a smoother consistency during this step if that’s what you’re after!
- Let your cranberry sauce cool for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle the orange zest (or some orange peel) on top and serve!