Cranberry sauce is that sweet and tangy topping no holiday is complete without! Our homemade sauce is easy to make and the perfect addition to your dinner.
Cranberry sauce might be my favorite part of holiday dinners. Confession: I’ll often sneak the leftovers out of the refrigerator and eat them in a bowl with a spoon. It’s just so good.
Cranberry Sauce Ingredients
- Fresh cranberries – Frozen fresh cranberries will work as well, but we don’t suggest substituting dry cranberries.
- Brown sugar – We used light brown sugar, but dark would also work.
- Honey – I love to use unfiltered local honey (we collect it when we travel) but you can totally use any kind of honey you have on hand!
- Orange juice – Fresh orange juice is great, but from concentrate will work as well. Since you’re going to need a fresh orange for the zest, it’s easy to just squeeze the one you have on hand.
- Orange zest – There’s not really a substitute for orange zest, but the recipe will still work if you don’t have it on hand.
- Salt – A touch of salt goes far to balance flavors in this cranberry sauce recipe!
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon gives an extra touch of holiday flavor, but you can skip it if you want a more pure cranberry flavor.
- Apple – peeled and grated
How do you make homemade cranberry sauce? (Step-by-step)
⭐ First, in a medium sized sauce pan, combine brown sugar, honey, water, and orange juice. Bring mixture to a boil.
⭐ Next, once boiling, add in salt, cinnamon, orange zest, fresh cranberries, and grated apple. Turn stove down to medium heat and cook mixture. You will hear frequent popping from the cranberries.
⭐ Then, turn the heat to medium low and cook mixture until thickened. Take cranberry mixture off heat.
⭐ Finally, mash mixture with a wood spoon or potato masher until it reaches a desired consistency. Cool and serve.
Can I make cranberry sauce ahead of time?
You can make cranberry sauce a day or two in advance and then store it in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I actually prefer to do it this way so it’s cooled and ready for dinner and it’s one less thing to make on a busy holiday.
You can also make it several days or weeks in advance and store it in the freezer.
What kind of apples should I use?
Depending on how tart you like your cranberry sauce, you can switch up the type of apple to include. For a more sweet sauce, include a gala or opal apple.
For a more tart flavor, add in a granny smith apple.
Is cranberry sauce served warm or cold?
Cranberry sauce is traditionally served chilled or at room temperature, but not warm. That said, if you like your sauce warm, then go for it!
What do you serve cranberry sauce with?
Storage and Leftovers
Does cranberry sauce need to be refrigerated?
Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Sauce left our in excess of two hours at room temperature should be disposed of.
Can you freeze cranberry sauce?
You can freeze leftover sauce for up to several months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, or in the microwave in 20 – 30 second increments.
How long does leftover cranberry sauce last?
Cranberry sauce will last in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 days or in the freezer for several weeks or even months. Make sure the cranberry sauce is stored in a sealed airtight container.
More Recipes with Cranberry
Complete your holiday meal with our recipe suggestions
We love the holidays, and could make holiday dishes all day long! I love to serve cranberry sauce alongside turkey, slow cooked spiral ham, skillet cornbread, scalloped potatoes with ham, green bean casserole, and easy dinner rolls.
Tools We Love
- Calphalon everyday pan – This is a 12″ two handled pan that you will use pretty much every day. Which, of course is why it’s called an everyday pan. I have this one and the Le Creuset version. I use a whole lot of pots and pans in my line of work (apologies to my husband, the dishwasher!) and these are by far my most frequently used pans.
- Le Creuset braising pan – We talked a little bit about this one already. It’s the pumped up version of the Calphalon everyday pan. A little heavier, a little taller, a little nicer. And if you have a little more money to spend, then this is for sure the one to get. It’s a beautiful pan that you’ll use day in and day out.
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How to Make Cranberry Sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup water
- juice of 1 orange or ¼ cup orange juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- zest of one orange about 2 Tbs
- 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
- 1/2 granny smith apple peeled and grated (about ½ cup)
- In a medium sized sauce pan, combine brown sugar, honey, water, and orange juice. Bring mixture to a boil.
- Once boiling, add in salt, cinnamon, orange zest, fresh cranberries, and grated apple. Turn stove down to medium heat and cook mixture for 5 minutes. You will hear frequent popping from the cranberries.
- Turn the heat to medium low and cook mixture until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Take cranberry mixture off heat.
- Mash mixture with a wood spoon or potato masher until it reaches a desired consistency.
- Cool and serve.
- Depending on how tart you like your cranberry sauce, you can switch up the type of apple to include. For a more sweet sauce, include a gala or opal apple. For a more tart flavor, add in a granny smith apple
- You can use orange juice from concentrate, but fresh orange juice tastes best in this recipe.