Cranberry Sauce Recipe

5 from 5 votes

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What’s the most underrated dish on every holiday table? I’ll give you a hint – its ruby-red color and burst of tart and sweet flavor help elevate your savory main dishes. Its citrusy, warm smell travels through your home 🏡 reminding everyone of joy and togetherness. You got it: cranberry sauce!

Cranberry sauce never really gets the credit it deserves, yet it’s a holiday staple and an essential addition to festive meals.

In this recipe, I’ll show you how to create the most delicious, homemade cranberry sauce, consisting of minimal ingredients and prep time, yet still delivering an explosion of flavor in every bite!

Why You’ll Love This Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Now I know what you’re thinking. Why would I spend time making cranberry sauce when I can simply buy it? I know cooking Holiday meals is extremely time-consuming, and therefore outsourcing a few of the dishes is a great time saver for a lot of people. I get it…although a few people around the table might judge you 🧐!

However, one of the best features of this recipe is how simple it is to throw together. With just a few simple ingredients and minimal steps, you’ll have a cranberry sauce that’s so packed with flavor, that it will make store-bought cranberry sauce taste like a bland, uninspired afterthought (yes, I went there) 😌.

Besides, making your own cranberry sauce gives you tons of versatility. You can reduce the sugar content, make it tangier or sweeter, or simply alter the flavor profile by experimenting with different spices and extracts.

No matter how you spin it, nothing beats homemade cranberry sauce and I promise you the additional 15 minutes you will spend making this are well worth it 👌!

How to Prepare Cranberry Sauce

Begin by placing the cranberries, maple syrup, freshly squeezed orange juice, water, and orange zest into a pot. Turn the heat to a gentle medium and stir.

As the sauce starts to simmer, the cranberries will begin bursting and you’ll hear them pop 💥. Don’t be afraid – you’re on the right track! Partially cover the pot with a lid to avoid any mess and splatter and keep an eye on the mixture as it cooks down.

Once the cranberries soften and open up, take your masher and mash them in the pot until you reach your desired consistency, and then continue to stir until the sauce has thickened.

Keep in mind that as the sauce cools, it will continue to thicken, so don’t stress if it seems a little loose at this stage.

Finally, take the sauce off the heat, add a dash of cinnamon or some vanilla extract if you’d like, and let it cool completely before serving.

Variations and Substitutions

Here are a few variations and substitutions for this cranberry sauce recipe:

  • If you’re looking to reduce the sugar content, use half the amount of maple syrup and then taste and add more as needed. Alternatively, you can also use honey 🍯, brown sugar, agave syrup, coconut sugar, or date paste to sweeten this dish.
  • For a “sugar-free” version, you can use monk fruit or a sugar substitute like Stevia.
  • If you want a tangier cranberry sauce, substitute some or all of the orange juice with lemon juice or apple cider.
  • No experiment with different textures and flavor profiles, try stirring in the following at the of cooking: pure vanilla extract, raisins, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or ground cloves.
  • If you don’t like how tart cranberries are, you can add sweeter berries like cherries 🍒 or strawberries 🍓 to the mix.
  • For a stronger orange flavor add more orange zest and decrease the amount of water in this recipe to ½ cup, making sure to add an additional ½ cup orange juice instead.
  • If you’re in a pinch, you can purchase cranberry sauce at the store, but it will never taste homemade 😊!

Other Holiday Recipes

Common Questions

How long does cranberry sauce last in the fridge?

When stored properly, homemade cranberry sauce can last in the fridge for 10-14 days.

What is the correct way to store cranberry sauce?

Firstly, allow the sauce to come to room temperature. Next, transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge.

Can I freeze cranberry sauce?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze it. Whether you plan on preparing this side dish in advance or would like to make a larger batch, freezing it is a great solution.

What other sweeteners can I use instead of maple syrup?

Let me preface this by saying that using different sweeteners may alter the flavor and texture of the dish. Therefore, always be sure to taste and adjust as you go. With this in mind, you could use brown sugar, coconut sugar, agave syrup, stevia, honey, or even date paste.

Can I make this recipe with other fruit if I don’t like cranberries?

Definitely! Cranberries are the traditional choice, but you could certainly make this dish with sweeter barriers like strawberries or cherries instead.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

In this recipe, we'll show you how to make cranberry sauce from scratch, using fresh cranberries, a touch of citrus, and just the right amount of sweetness. The result? A vibrant, ruby-red sauce that's bursting with flavor, providing the perfect balance to compliment your savory main dishes.
5 from 5 votes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 4 cups cranberries, 340 grams
  • cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • ½ tablespoon orange zest
  • ¾ cups maple syrup
  • 1 cup water

Optional Additions


  • Place the first five ingredients in a pot. Turn the heat on medium and stir.
  • As the cranberries start to simmer, you will begin to hear them pop. If you don't want any of the liquid splashing you as they pop, be sure to put on a lid half way.
  • As the cranberries soften and open up, I start mashing them in the pot. I mash until my desired consistency.
  • Take the masher out and continue to stir until the sauce has thickened.
  • Note: as the sauce cools it will continue to thicken so don't worry if it seems a little loose.
  • Take the sauce off the heat and optionally, add a dash of cinnamon and vanilla.
  • Let it cool and enjoy!



Calories: 148kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 0.4g, Fat: 0.1g, Saturated Fat: 0.01g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g, Sodium: 7mg, Potassium: 174mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 28g, Vitamin A: 70IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 54mg, Iron: 0.2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

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