Quick and Easy Cranberry Sauce

by Anja
2 cups
20 min

- Making cranberry sauce is so quick and easy that there is almost no reason not to do it. Orange zest adds brightness to it.

I like making things at home. Often it makes a lot of sense since it’s better and less expensive.

Even though in the fall, it’s very easy to find cranberry sauce in the stores, this is one of those recipes that are so simple to make. So simple that there is really no reason not to make it. It takes less than 10 minutes and almost no prepping. And you can control the amount of sugar in it – or add other flavors, such as orange zest.

This post is a collaboration with some of my blogging friends. Be sure to scroll all the way down to the end to find their delicious Thanksgiving Side Dishes. It’s really a one-stop shop if you’re wondering what to make or bring.

Cranberry Sauce 100 years ago

My 1925 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book

Well, not quite exactly 100 years but almost. I love taking my 1925 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book out of the shelf to see what people were doing back then. The recipe for cranberry sauce is very short:

As you can see, there is not much to it. So much so that it’s almost not worth doing dedicating an entire blog post and video to it. Almost! I am saying that because I want to show you how easy it is to make.

Ingredients for the Orange Cranberry Sauce

All you need is cranberries and sugar. However, I find that adding orange zest to the sauce brings out the brightness of the cranberries and adds interest. Feel free to play with other ingredients to add to your homemade sauce.

The basic recipe is this:

12 oz cranberries

½ cup sugar

1 TBSP orange zest

½ cup water

That’s it! So simple!

How to make the orange cranberry sauce

Just to sound a bit different than my vintage cookbook:

Add all your ingredients to a small pot. You can either use a lemon zester or simply cut a piece of orange peel into very fine strips.

Bring everything to a gentle boil. I like to stay close to the pot and keep stirring. And to make sure that nothing boils over. The cranberries will begin to pop open. You will notice that it won’t take very long before the cranberry sauce starts to thicken.

At this point, you can check the sauce for sweetness. If you find it too tart for your taste, just add a bit more sugar. We have gotten used to eating less sweet. Or shall I say that we have trained our taste buds to be happy with less sugar? In any event, my family finds that one-half cup of sugar is great for this recipe.

The sauce will thicken further as it cools down. Again, if you like your cranberry sauce to be a bit thinner, you can add a little more water.

Carefully fill the hot cranberry sauce in a container. Pint-size mason jars are great for this recipe but any other bowl or container works. Let it cool to room temperature before you store it in the refrigerator.

How to store the Orange Cranberry Sauce

How long does it last? Honestly, I can’t tell you because we have always finished it before it had gone bad. My suspicion is that due to the acidity of the cranberries and the sugar, it actually will keep quite a while. As in weeks. Be sure to test it if, lets say, you’re making the cranberry sauce in October and want to serve it for Thanksgiving.

As you can see, it takes very little time and very little prep to make this Thanksgiving essential. The great thing is that you can make it ahead of time to take one more thing off your busy list.

Here are some other Recipes you might enjoy:

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Stuffing

Canned Apple Pie Filling

Homemade Elderberry Jam

Camel Hump Fat Roasted Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts

Please check out these delicious side dish recipes by my blogging friends.

Rice Pilaf by Essentially Handmade

Bacon Parmesan Brussels Sprouts by Vintage Kitchen Vixen

Herbed Garlic Mashed Potatoes by The Bluebonnet Homestead

Buttery Scalloped Corn by Hearty Sol

Sourdough Cornbread Stuffing by Farmhouse Basic Collection

Bordeaux Mushrooms by Our Amyable Farmhouse

Sweet Potato Stackers by Our Future Homestead

Homemade Buttery Dinner Rolls by St. Martha’s Lens

Gluten Free Gravy by Life on Leetown

Rustic Dressing with Giblet Gravy by Homegrown Hopes

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Quick and Easy Cranberry Sauce
Recipe details
  • 2  cups
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 10 Minutes Total time: 20 min
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  • 3 cups cranberries (or 12 oz)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP orange zest either use a zester or cut the peel into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup water

Cut the orange peel into very thin strip or use a zester.
Add all the ingredients to a small pot and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
Continue to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, making sure it doesn't boil over.
After 5-10 mins when all the cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened, carefully pour into a mason jar or other container.
Let cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups.
Want more details about this and other recipes? Check out more here!
  • Corina Clifton Corina Clifton on Nov 25, 2021

    I have been making my own cranberry sauce just like your recipe however I add some diced serrano chile to my sauce and it gives it a little kick and its quite tasty. If you like a little spicy in your sauce.

  • Kse7753155 Kse7753155 on Nov 26, 2022

    I make my cranberry sauce in a casserole dish with a good fitting lid in the microwave --- put the berries sugar and a little water in the dish and cook on high 4 or 5 min until the berries have all popped. Add 3/4 c orange marmalade and some chopped pecans. No mess, no fuss.