Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (2024)

This 3 ingredient homemade cranberry sauce will blow your mind with how easy it is to make and how perfectly it turns out every time! It is the perfect addition to your holiday menu and can even be made in advance to save time on Thanksgiving or Christmas you can enjoy your family!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (1)

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Cranberry sauce is a staple at our house from Thanksgiving through Christmas. The holiday season just wouldn’t be the same without it! I grew up eating cranberry sauce out of a can, and admittedly, I do still love it, but as an adult I started making my own and love being able to adjust it to just how I like it! Plus, it is so easy, why not?!

I have tried many different types of cranberry sauces over the years. Basic, more spiced, chunkier, thinner, thicker, etc. My favorite, and this homemade cranberry sauce recipe, is just the classic though. It doesn’t have a lot of heavy spices or anything else, it is just the classic cranberry flavor that shines through. I am including instructions for making it more tart or more sweet. I like mine on the tart side, but I know most people including kiddos, like it on the sweeter side. Above all else, it goes absolutely perfectly with Thanksgiving Turkey (try my Instant Pot Turkey for another easy recipe!)

If you have never made cranberry sauce from scratch before, you are in for a treat. It is so easy and delicious, I think you may never make it another way again! So let’s get started!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (2)

How do you prepare cranberries?

The great news about working with cranberries is that there is very little to do to prep them for the recipe. You can find fresh cranberries bagged in most grocery stores starting between the end of October and the beginning of November. They are often sold in 12 ounce bags which is what is used for this recipe. Once you get them home, just open the bag rinse them off and then pick any errant stems that might have gotten missed in the packing process. Then you are ready to get cooking!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (3)

How do you make Jellied Cranberry Sauce?

The great thing about making cranberry sauce is that cranberries naturally have a lot of pectin, the ingredient that creates the jelly like texture, in them which means that you can easily make jellied cranberry sauce without putting in extra additives to make it gel. By cooking the cranberries the pectin is released. The recipe below creates perfect jellied cranberry sauce.

How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is super simple and one I have been making for many, many years. You can follow along with me here to get the step by step along with my tips and answers to frequently asked questions, or if you want the quick version, feel free to scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (4)

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Ingredients

  • 12 oz cranberries- This is generally the size of the bag that they sell at regular grocery stores. You can also find them at wholesale clubs like Costco or Sams but they will be larger sizes you will either need to measure out the cranberries or double/triple the recipe based on the size if you want to use all of them.
  • 1 cup orange juice-I just use regular minute maid orange juice. You can use whatever your preferred brand/variety of prepared orange juice is. In a pinch you could just use water but you will lose a little flavor and need to add a bit of extra white sugar to make up for the natural sugar in the juice.
  • 1/2 – 1 cup white sugar– Use sugar amount based on preferred sweetness:
    • 1/2 cup for more tart cranberry sauce- this is my favorite! It isn’t overly tart but has much more of a zing than the others. This is also a great option for when you are using the cranberry sauce as an ingredient in something else like a sandwich or a topping on cream cheese, or brie. Since you get smaller amounts of the cranberry in those dishes this gives more of a flavor punch with every bite.
    • 1 cup for sweet cranberry sauce- This still has a bit of zing but is more universally sweet and how my kids prefer it.
    • 3/4 cup for mildly sweet cranberry sauce- This one is a nice compromise in between the more tart and more sweet sauce.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (5)

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Instructions

  • Combine cranberries, orange juice and sugar (amount based on your sweetness preference) in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and cook stirring frequently until the mixture begins to boil. You don’t need to stir constantly but do keep an eye on it and stir often to keep it cooking evenly.
  • Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 3-5 additional minutes, or until it is the “chunkiness” you desire. The longer you cook it the more the berries break down so it become smoother and more jelly like in texture. For more whole berries cook less, and for more jelly like texture cook longer. I cooked the one pictured for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and cool in fridge until serving.Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. You can either put it in your serving dish and cover if you will be serving when cool, or if you have made it ahead and it will be sitting more than a couple of hours, I recommend storing it in a tupperware container and then transferring to your serving dish when ready to serve.
  • Serve chilled and ENJOY! You can also store leftovers in the fridge and eat through out the week on sandwiches or with cheese and crackers.

I hope that you enjoy this easy homemade cranberry sauce recipe as much as we do! Even if you have never made cranberry sauce, I know you will feel like a pro with this recipe. If you do get a chance to make it, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below! It makes my day to know others are enjoying the recipes I share. And if you snap a pic, share it on Instagram and tag me @easyfamilyrecipes!

Hungry for more family-friendly recipes? Sign up for my free recipe club to get new family-friendly recipes in your inbox each week! Find me sharing daily meal-time inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (6)

5 from 3 votes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is as easy as it is delicious with only 3 ingredients and taking as little as 15 minutes to make from start to finish. You can modify it per the instructions to make it more tart or more of a sweet cranberry sauce. It is the perfect side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and can be made ahead to save time.

Prep Time: 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes minutes

Serves:10 servings

Hover over "serves" value to reveal recipe scaler



Print Review Recipe


  • 12 oz cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 - 1 cup white sugar

Use sugar amount based on preferred sweetness:

  • 1/2 cup for more tart cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup for sweet cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 cup for mildly sweet cranberry sauce


  • Combine cranberries, orange juice and sugar (amount based on your sweetness preference) in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and cook stirring frequently until the mixture begins to boil.

  • Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 3-5 additional minutes, or until it is the "chunkiness" you desire. The longer you cook the more smooth it will be.

  • Remove from heat and cool in fridge until serving. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

  • Serve chilled and ENJOY!

Recipe Notes:

You can make this up to 1 week ahead of time and store in an airtight container until you are ready to use.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1/4 cupCalories: 63kcal (3%)Carbohydrates: 17g (6%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 101g (112%)

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



Did you make this recipe?Tag me on Instagram @thepinningmama! If you enjoyed this recipe, please leave a review! It helps support my website and makes my day!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (2024)


How do you take the bitterness out of homemade cranberry sauce? ›

"Instead, start by stirring in one tablespoon maple syrup and one teaspoon of a sweet drink like apple juice, orange juice, or fruity white or red wine. Add more to taste. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (in small amounts, it intensifies sweetness)."

How long does homemade cranberry sauce last? ›

When to Toss Cranberry Sauce. Cranberry sauce will last for two hours at room temperature. Homemade cranberry sauce will last in the fridge for 10 to 14 days. Canned cranberry sauce that has been opened will last up to a week in the fridge.

Why is my homemade cranberry sauce not thickening? ›

One possibility is that you may not have used enough sugar: Sugar helps the sauce firm up, so be sure to use the full amount called for in a recipe. Another possibility is that the cranberries need to boil for longer, releasing their pectin and ensuring a jelly consistency.

What are the two types of cranberry sauce? ›

Commercial cranberry sauce may be loose and uncondensed, or condensed or jellied and sweetened with various ingredients.

How do you tame tartness in cranberry sauce? ›

While you won't taste it, salt helps equalize the sweet-tart flavor of your cranberry sauce while making it a better pairing for the rest of your savory sides and, of course, the turkey.

How to enhance cranberry sauce? ›

Adding a teaspoon or two of fresh lemon or orange zest, a tablespoon of chopped candied peel, or even a splash of juice to your canned sauce will brighten flavors and bring in some homemade flavor.

Can I freeze homemade cranberry sauce? ›

Yes, you can freeze homemade cranberry sauce—and it works well. It's best to store it in the freezer for up to 3 months; the taste may be affected due to its water content if frozen longer. Keep this in mind when putting away your leftover sauce and use it during this optimal period as part of an easy weeknight dinner.

Should you make cranberry sauce the day before? ›

The sauce can be made up to 1 week in advance; keep refrigerated, and do not add the nuts until Thanksgiving Day, a few hours before serving. If your sauce doesn't set after you've chilled it, put it back on the stove and simmer it for another 5 minutes or so, then let it cool and chill. That should do the trick.

Is homemade cranberry sauce good for you? ›

Nutritional Facts Face-Off

We can see there is a significant difference in the nutrition facts between the two sauces. The homemade cranberry sauce has nearly half the calories, carbohydrates, and sugars compared to the store brand. It also has more fiber as well as potassium!

Why does my cranberry sauce taste weird? ›

If your cranberry sauce has an odd flavor, consider checking the quality of your cranberries, the amount of sugar and water used, and the cooking time and temperature. Ensure you're using fresh cranberries and following the recipe for sugar and water measurements.

Does homemade cranberry sauce thicken as it cools? ›

The sauce will thicken as it cools. If you want a cranberry mold that holds its shape, continue to boil the mixture so that more pectin is released from the fruit, additional water evaporates, and the sauce becomes thick enough to set into a firm gel.

Does homemade cranberry sauce thicken when it cools? ›

Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

What is the difference between cranberry sauce and jellied cranberry sauce? ›

The major variation you're likely to come across is "whole berry" versus "jellied." The only difference between them is that the jellied sauce is cooked until the berries have completely broken down. They both slide out of the can as a wobbly red cylinder.

Is homemade cranberry sauce better than canned? ›

Everyone found the biggest difference between the two to be texture; the homemade sauce had a distinct Jell-O springiness. The Health Nut: Store-bought. "The homemade's flavor is a little more mild and the texture more gelatinous, which isn't what I'm looking for in a cranberry sauce." The Foodie: Store-bought.

Why is cranberry sauce so expensive? ›

Costs are up

That includes cranberry sauce, whose price is up about 18% compared to last year because cranberry crops are smaller this year, sparking a supply squeeze.

How do you counteract bitterness in sauce? ›

Sweetness: From sugar, honey, fruits or otherwise, sweetness will counteract bitter and sour flavours. It can also be used to cut down the heat of a particularly spicy meal. Saltiness: Salt plays two very important roles in flavouring a dish. Firstly, it balances against bitterness.

How do you make cranberry juice less bitter? ›

Honey: Another option is to use honey as a sweetener. Start with a small amount (such as 1 teaspoon) and gradually add more until the desired level of sweetness is reached. Maple syrup: Maple syrup is another option for sweetening unsweetened cranberry juice.

How do you sweeten bitter cranberry juice? ›

Add agave nectar to the cranberry citrus mixture to your taste. I started with 1/2 cup and ended up with 1 cup of nectar to the 9 cups of juice. You could also use 1/2 cup of white sugar or 1/2 cup of honey for this. Just taste test as you go to achieve your desired sweetness.

Why does my homemade sauce taste bitter? ›

Leaf states that this can be due to burning the sauce in the pot or simply dealing with a batch of produce that are overly acidic or metallic from canning or cooking. This can also come from under-ripe or low-quality tomatoes, as well as stirring in a hefty amount of tomato paste, per Boss The Kitchen.


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