Cranberry Sauce

I did not grow up eating cranberry sauce. We never really experimented with making it from scratch, and the kind straight out of the can (with those weird can marks) just never appealed to me. 

That sounds totally food-snobby, but I can’t help it! 

When I started cooking the entire Thanksgiving meal, from scratch, several years ago, I decided it was time to try making it from whole cranberries, and that’s when I realized I was missing out on something really, really amazing.

Cranberry sauce in a jar.

4 ingredients with fresh orange

Cranberry sauce, made from whole fresh or frozen crans, is insanely good. 

I never really measure what goes into it, I just start with a bag of ’em from the produce section of the grocery store, add some fresh orange juice (with all the zest) and some sugar. 

Once it cooks down and the cranberries start to burst, I taste it and add more sugar, if it needs it. 

What I’ve included in the recipe here is a rough guess of how much sugar I add (and when you make it, you may want less or more, depending on how tart or sweet you want it). 

And sometimes, depending on the water content of the cranberries, you may need a bit less or more orange juice.

Cranberries in a tin
Cranberry Sauce in a jar.

But that’s the beauty of it.  You only need 3 simple ingredients, and you can really make it your own.  Sweeter or tarter, juicier or thicker, orangier or not orangier… whatever floats your boat. 

The best cranberry sauce – right here

And yes, cranberry sauce is a bit higher in sugar than most of my recipes, but it’s Thanksgiving, and I now look forward to this stuff every single year.  So I’m going to indulge a bit, and am 500% okay with that. 

I’m also not going to skimp out on or ‘healthify’ my grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie recipe because that would be a sin.

It’s just one (delicious) day, afterall.

Cranberry Sauce in a jar.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce in a jar.

The best Cranberry Sauce with fresh orange juice and zest. Lower in sugar, yet perfectly sweet and tart, and absolutely perfect for the holidays.

  • Author: Julie Andrews
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 20 min
  • Yield: Serves 8 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stove-Top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


  • 2 cups whole cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Zest and juice of 2 medium oranges
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Grated or ground nutmeg, cinnamon and/or cloves, to taste (optional)


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, orange zest and juice and sugar to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst.  Add additional orange juice or water, if necessary.  Taste and add sugar, if desired.  Add spices, if desired.
  2. Use the back of a fork to smash cranberries to desired consistency.


Cooking Tip: Can be made ahead and lasts in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, up to 4 days.


  • Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
  • Calories: 77
  • Sugar: 17
  • Sodium: 0
  • Fat: 0
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 20
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 1
  • Cholesterol: 0

Keywords: frozen berries, for pork, for chicken for meatballs, easy, quick, simple, holiday

Did you make this recipe?

Did you make this recipe? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram and Facebook @thegourmetRD. We can’t wait to see your creation!

4 thoughts on “Cranberry Sauce”

  1. We don’t cook the cranberry’s we just wash and grind with the orange and sugar to taste. It comes out like a chutney. Really good.

  2. I used this recipe at 2 separate thanksgivings TODAY and it was a hit! Everyone loved it. I highly recommend this recipe and all others that Julie has to offer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top