Easiest Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Alice in Grains
by Alice in Grains
3 Cups
30 min

I'm a New Englander born and raised, and I feel like cranberries are just in my blood. I understand the cranberry sauce controversy - canned versus homemade, jellied versus whole berry - but I feel like this one falls right in the middle. It’s sweet, bitter, jammy - but will hold its own, super quick to make and it will be the perfect balance for your Thanksgiving table (or really for any meat centered meal). Take it from my husband who came from a cranberry-less household (I KNOW). The first year I made this he simply proclaimed, "Okay, now I get it."

There are a couple options you can take with this recipe - if you want it on the sweeter side, omit the orange peels, if you want a little less complexity of flavor, omit the cardamom. If you only have white sugar on hand, just go with that. Last year I completely forgot to buy oranges, realized I had some clementines in my fridge & chopped some of those up instead! Thanksgiving in my book is supposed to be a low-stress holiday, filled with good eats & enjoying family around the table. Although this year is likely to look a little different in your house, this a great recipe that you can make days ahead, keep in your fridge, and put on the table minutes before eating.

Here's the lowdown on ingredients: determine how sweet/bitter you want your sauce & adjust from there! Only have white sugar? Just use that. Want to omit the orange peels? Sure. It's a super versatile (and resilient) sauce, so just have a little fun with it.

Here's what you're looking for pre-cook time. Once it's on the stove make sure to mix 'er all up!

When you've reached that jammy consistency after about 15-20 minutes, pull that bad boy off the stove and immediately remove the flavoring agents (orange peels & cinnamon stick). You'll know you've cooked it enough once you've surpassed the watery looking stage & everything starts to thicken up! It will set more as it cools as well.

I mean come on - look at that color! Serve it right off the stove or directly from the fridge. I promise it will be just as delicious either way.

Easiest Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Recipe details
  • 3  Cups
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 30 min
Show Nutrition Info
Hide Nutrition Info
Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 lb Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
  • 1 Orange (see directions below)
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • 1/2 Tsp Allspice
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Cardamom
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
Prep your orange
Grab your whole orange & take 2-3 peels off (depending on how bitter you like things, 2 is probably good).
Cut the orange in half. Take one of the halves, cut the pith off (the orange/white peel), and chop - making sure all the seeds are removed. Juice the other half into the sauce.
Making the sauce
Grab a pot and pour in your cranberries. Add all other ingredients, including your orange peels, chopped orange pieces & juice. Mix everything together.
Place your pot on the stove on medium-low heat & stir every couple minutes until the sauce is jammy and most of the cranberries have broken down, about 15-20 minutes.
Take your pot off the stove, remove your cinnamon stick & orange peels, let cool completely & store in the fridge until Turkey Day!
Can be made 2-3 days ahead.
  • Make sure your stove isn't too hot. Since there are sugars in the mix, this could cause your sauce to burn. Low & slow is the best method here!
  • Remove your orange peels & cinnamon stick immediately after cooking and before the cool down stage. This will stop your sauce from getting too bitter.
  • If you're feeling fancy - serve it with some orange zest on top!
  • Loucretia Atkinson Pulis Loucretia Atkinson Pulis on Oct 04, 2021

    What if you don't have the cinnamon sticks, and only the cinnamon, and no cardamom (i don't even know what that is)?

    • See 2 previous
    • Kate Pigula Kate Pigula on Oct 03, 2022

      Cardamom is a equal parts of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves .

  • Gena Maxwell Gena Maxwell on Nov 09, 2021

    What about using sugar substitute

    • Alice in Grains Alice in Grains on Nov 09, 2021

      I’ve played around with using honey before and you just cut down on the quantity. It definitely changes the flavor a bit depending on your substitute, but just start with a small amount and taste as you go! If you like the sour/bitterness of cranberries in their normal state you might not need much at all.