Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce (Delicious Thanksgiving Recipe)

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If you’re looking for an easy homemade cranberry sauce recipe for Thanksgiving, you’ve found it! This cranberry sauce recipe with orange juice shows you how to make step-by-step the best jellied cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving table. It’s as easy as it is delicious!

Looking for more Thanksgiving ideas? Check out the 25 Most Pinned Thanksgiving Side Dishes and 27 Easy Ideas for a Cozy & Welcoming Thanksgiving Table.

homemade cranberry sauce in bowl

When I made my very first Thanksgiving meal from scratch, I was super intimidated about making cranberry sauce because it looks difficult. I mean, it’s JELLIED. And some people like whole berry, others like no berries… the stress!

Turns out, making it is so much easier than you’d think. It jellies itself, no gelatin needed. My favorite part is that you can make it ahead of time, which reduces the stress on Thanksgiving and frees up the stovetop for other dishes (STUFFFFFFING, I’m looking at you.)

The only drawback? No satisfying ‘sluuuuuuurp’ when you wiggle it out of a can or indented lines on the side of a solid sauce cylinder. Well worth the trade off to have fresh, zingy and delicious cranberry sauce in my opinion!

How do you make cranberry sauce from scratch?

It’s so much easier than you think, and only requires 5 ingredients plus a few common spices! Keep reading for the full, printable step-by-step recipe.

ingredients for cranberry sauce

How to Make Cranberry Sauce (VIDEO)

What type of cranberries can you use to make cranberry sauce?

This recipe uses one 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries, but you can also use frozen cranberries if fresh aren’t available. Some recipes use dried cranberries, but I prefer the taste and consistency of fresh or frozen cranberries so this recipe uses those berries only.

cranberries in saucepan

What should I know before making homemade cranberry sauce?

If you’ve never made cranberry sauce from scratch, here’s a few tips to make it as easy and delicious as possible:

  • You can make it ahead! In fact, the flavors tend to deepen so it’s one of the recipes I make first when prepping for Thanksgiving. You can make it 2-3 days ahead of time and store in the fridge.
  • You don’t need to use any type of gelatin when making jellied cranberry sauce! When you boil and simmer the cranberries, they ‘pop’ and release pectin which gives it that jelly consistency.
  • Cranberries are naturally tart, which is why recipes use sugar and orange juice to add some sweetness. If you have a super duper sweet tooth, you can add more sugar or even some honey to sweeten up this recipe (though we love it the way it is, personally.)
  • Cranberry sauce comes in several consistencies, including whole berry. If you like a finer consistency, you can use a potato masher to break up the berries a bit during the cooking process.
cranberry sauce in pan

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What does cranberry sauce go with on Thanksgiving?

Cranberry sauce is delicious on so many favorite foods, not just turkey! In addition to your beautiful turkey, here are other ways to use cranberry sauce:

  • with mashed potatoes
  • use on turkey sandwiches (we call it ‘The Gobbler’)
  • on leftovers from Thanksgiving
  • stir into sauteed brussels sprouts
  • use as a marinade on chicken or pork
  • add a bowl of cranberry sauce to your charcuterie board; so good!
cranberry sauce in bowl with orange garnish

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice

This delicious homemade cranberry sauce recipes uses the flavor of oranges to sweeten the bright flavors. Move over turkey, this easy cranberry sauce recipe is sure to be the hit of the Thanksgiving table!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy recipe, holiday recipe, Thanksgiving,


  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (12 ounce bag)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, white and brown sugars, cinnamon and salt.
  • Cover with orange juice and water, stir to combine. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, add more sugar or a drizzle of honey.
  • Bring mixture to slight boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes (cranberries should 'pop') or until desired consistency. You can use a potato masher to gently mash the cranberries slightly while the sauce is still warm if you prefer a finer texture as opposed to the 'whole berry' consistency.
  • Spoon mixture into a serving bowl or airtight container to store until ready to serve. Let cool completely before serving.
  • You can make this ahead and store in the fridge for 2-3 days before serving if desired.

Don’t let it indimidate you, if I as a novice baker could make this recipe when I first started cooking than ANYONE can make it!

Here’s other popular Thanksgiving posts for a delicious and less-stressful holiday:

What do you think– are you a whole berry cranberry sauce person? Do you like it finely mashed, solid, or more of a sauce? I know cranberry sauce preference is highly personal, so let’s hear your thoughts and favorite add-ins!

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