Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Yields: About 3 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes


  • 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest (optional, but adds complexity)
  • Pinch of salt

Optional flavor additions:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice (replace some of the water for a citrusy note)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dried currants
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Combine & simmer:

  • In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, water, orange zest (if using), and a pinch of salt.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook until thickened:

  • Simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until most of the cranberries have burst and the sauce has thickened.
  • Stir occasionally to prevent the bottom from sticking.

Adjust sweetness (optional):

  • Taste the sauce and add more sugar if it’s too tart for your liking.

Add extras (optional):

  • Stir in any optional ingredients like orange juice, nuts, dried fruits, or spices.

Cool and thicken:

  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the sauce to cool completely. It will continue to thicken as it cools.


  • Serve your cranberry sauce at room temperature or slightly chilled.


  • Store leftover cranberry sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze it for longer storage.


  • Fresh vs. frozen: You can use either fresh or frozen cranberries. No need to thaw the frozen ones.
  • Make ahead: Cranberry sauce is a perfect dish to make ahead for Thanksgiving or other holidays. It tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge.
  • Garnish ideas: Add a sprig of rosemary or a few orange slices for a festive presentation.


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