Cranberry Orange Sauce is the best recipe for homemade cranberry sauce! Made with only 5 ingredients and in less than 30 minutes, this easy recipe for fresh cranberry sauce will add the perfect zing to your Holiday meal, without being cloyingly sweet.
The Best Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Call me crazy, but one of my favorite sides at Thanksgiving is cranberry sauce. Not the jiggly stuff from a can, but homemade cranberry sauce.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce is superior in taste and texture to anything that comes from a can. But don't worry, this recipe only takes about 2 minutes of prep work! That is JUST about as easy as opening a can, but tastes a whole lot better!
Sweetened with maple syrup and orange juice, this recipe for Cranberry Orange Sauce is just sweet enough and the citrus notes help to enhance the cranberry flavor.
Cranberry Orange Sauce is the dish that your holiday meal needs! The fresh, tart flavors help cut through and balance out the richness of your holiday meal.
- Cranberries: You can use either fresh or frozen cranberries with the same results. Keep in mind that you will only be able to find fresh cranberries around the holidays and at that time, fresh cranberries are much less expensive than frozen cranberries.
- Orange Zest: The zest of fresh oranges adds such a concentration of orange flavor.
- Orange juice Concentrate: I opt to use orange juice concentrate instead of fresh orange juice because it is concentrated the sweetness and flavor are very intense. The natural sweetness and orange flavor pair beautifully with the cranberries and makes a delicious, perfectly sweetened sauce without the need for adding as much sugar.
- Maple syrup: Maple syrup is not only a natural sweetener, but the smokey, rich flavor of the maple syrup goes a long way to sweeten and add flavor to the cranberry sauce. Just be sure to use pure maple syrup.
- Cinnamon: Use either ground cinnamon, or add 2 cinnamon sticks to the sauce for a milder cinnamon flavor.
How to Make Cranberry Sauce
- Place the cranberries, orange juice concentrate, cinnamon, and maple syrup into a medium sauce pan.
- Wash and dry an orange. Then using a zester or Mircoplane, zest the bright orange rind of the orange directly into the saucepan. Be sure to stop zesting the orange when you see the white pith. That part of the orange is bitter!
- Give everything a good stir and then bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once the mixture is boiling, IMMEDIATELY, turn the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 20-30 minutes, stirring every couple minutes. You want to simmer the sauce until the cranberries have burst open and the sauce has begun to thicken. If you notice the liquid is evaporating too quickly, add in ¼ cup of water at a time.
- Remove the cranberry sauce from the heat and let cool slightly. The sauce will continue to thicken as it sets.
- Serve warm or refrigerate to chill thoroughly before serving.
Preparing in Advance
Cranberry Sauce is a great dish to prepare in advance, as it tastes better the longer it sits. Plus, when it comes to the big holiday meals like Thanksgiving, preparing as many dishes in advance is key to stress-free entertaining.
To prepare Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce in advance, prepare the recipe as stated and allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer the cranberry sauce into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Alternatively, freeze the cooled sauce in an airtight, freezer-safe container, leaving 1-inch of space for expansion, and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before serving. Serve cold or warmed slightly.
- Use as a spread for Turkey Sandwiches.
- Mix cranberry sauce with BBQ sauce and use a base for a Thanksgiving Pizza.
- Use leftover mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey to make Thanksgiving Egg Rolls and serve with a side of cranberry sauce for dipping.
- Serve warmed cranberry sauce over Sweet Potato Pancakes, Sweet Potato Waffles, or classic pancakes or waffles.
- Serve over plain yogurt with homemade granola for a delicious yogurt parfait.
- Cranberry Orange sauce should not be reserved for just turkey, as it is delicious with chicken or pork as well!
Yes! If you would like to replace the orange juice concentrate with the juice of fresh oranges, simply zest the oranges FIRST, then cut the orange open to squeeze the juice out. You will need at least ¼ cup of fresh orange juice. You will also need to add ¼ cup of additional water and an additional 2-4 tablespoons of sweetener, depending on how sweet you like your cranberry sauce.
Yes! If you don't want to use pure maple syrup, feel free to use equal amounts of granulated sugar or honey in its place.
As prepared, this recipe has a chunkier consistency. If you would like a smooth cranberry sauce, allow the sauce to cool to room temperature and then blend until smooth.
This recipe produces a cranberry sauce is right in the middle. It is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but thinner than jellied cranberry sauce. If you would like a thicker cranberry sauce, simply simmer a bit longer. For a thinner sauce, add an additional ¼ cup of water to the ingredients and simmer for only 15-20 minutes.
To make cranberry sauce in an electric pressure cooker, a few modifications need to be made to the recipe. Follow my recipe for Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce for success.
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole
- Homemade Applesauce
- Harvest Quinoa Salad
- Twice Baked Butternut Squash
- Green Bean Casserole
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
Cranberry Orange Sauce is one of my family's favorite Thanksgiving recipes. I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! I would love for you to leave a comment and review below if you gave this recipe a try.
Cranberry Orange Sauce
- 1 pound fresh cranberries
- ½ cup orange juice concentrate defrosted
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup see notes
- 1 teaspoon orange zest optional
- Combine the cranberries, orange juice concentrate, cinnamon, and maple syrup together in a medium saucepan. Zest the orange using a Microplane or zester over the saucepan and give everything a good mix to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until berries have burst and juices begin to thicken. Be sure to watch the sauce closely as it simmers, so that the sauce does not burn. If you notice too much liquid evaporating, add in ¼ cup of water or orange juice at a time.
- Cool slightly to thicken and serve warm or refrigerate for up to 5 days and serve cold.