This Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce takes only 5 ingredients to make, is very easy, delicious, and can be made ahead of time. No cans needed!
I get it - some people like canned cranberry sauce. I mean, how else can you get that satisfying plop of the sauce as it slowly slides out of the can, and lands on the plate? And it's hard to get the sauce to assume the exact shape of the inside of the can if it doesn't actually come from a can.
But, if you don't happen to really like canned cranberry sauce, there is another way. You can simply make it yourself.
Now trust me when I tell you that making Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce is easy. Anyone can do it! It takes only 5 ingredients (one of which is simply tap water), and no special equipment.
And best of all, you can make it way ahead of time. When you've got a little bit of extra time a week or two before your big holiday meal, go ahead and make it. It will be ready to go when the big day arrives.
How to make Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce:
If you've never tried making homemade cranberry sauce, now's your chance. It will probably be the easiest part of the holiday meal. You will only need 4 ingredients (plus water - see below) and about half an hour to make it. Once it's ready, it will need to chill for at least two hours.
Start with an orange (or 2-3 if you're using small clementines). Wash the orange well, and use a microplane to zest the whole orange into a measuring cup. Now juice the orange (straining out the seeds) into the measuring cup. Add enough water to measure 1 cup total.
Add this orange juice mixture, along with the cranberries, sugar, and salt to a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer until all the cranberries have burst, and the sauce thickens. It will take about 20 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from heat and transfer the sauce to an airtight container. Put it in the fridge to chill completely (note that the sauce will thicken even more once it's chilled).
Can you make Cranberry Sauce ahead of time?
Yes, you can absolutely make cranberry sauce ahead of time. In fact, because it needs to chill before serving, I recommend it.
How do you store homemade cranberry sauce?
If you plan on making cranberry sauce ahead of time, store it in an airtight container or 1 quart zipper bag.
Store the cranberry sauce in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
You can also freeze the cranberry sauce in the freezer for up to 6 months. Move the frozen cranberry sauce to the fridge 24 hours before you plan on serving it to thaw. Stir it well before serving.
Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce Ingredients:
- Orange: use any type you have. I only had clementines on hand when I made this, so that's what I used (use two as they are smaller). Navel or cara cara oranges are ideal. You will be using both the zest and the juice from the orange.
- Water: use whatever water you normally drink. Tap water is fine.
- Fresh or frozen cranberries. Fresh cranberries are typically available in small (12oz) bags in the produce department only around the holidays. If you need to make cranberry sauce at any other time of the year, use frozen cranberries.
- Granulated sugar: cranberries are very tart, and the sugar is definitely required to make the sauce palatable. It also helps to thicken the sauce.
- Salt: I like the addition of a little salt in cranberry sauce to help add a depth of flavor since it's typically used with savory foods.
Want more Thanksgiving recipes?
Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce Nutrition Notes:
The nutrition information in the recipe below is for 2 Tablespoons of Cranberry Sauce. Note that the recipe makes approximately 2 cups of sauce.
This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and nut-free as written.
Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 1 Microplane or zester
- 1 Medium saucepan
- 1 orange
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries (about 3.5 cups)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Wash the orange well with warm water and dry it. Using a microplane or zester, zest the orange into a measuring cup. Then juice the orange into the cup, straining out any seeds. Add water to the orange juice mixture, so that the mixture totals 1 cup.
- Pour the orange juice mixture into a medium saucepan. Add 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries, ¾ cup granulated sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the cranberries have all burst and the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir the mixture regularly while it's cooking.
- Transfer the sauce to an airtight container (make sure the container is heatproof if you're transferring it while it's still hot), and chill completely, at least 2 hours. Note that the sauce will thicken as it chills.
- The sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to a week before serving, or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.