This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
The holiday season is upon us, and that means it’s time to start planning those festive meals that bring friends and family together. While some may opt for the convenience of canned cranberry sauce, there’s truly nothing like the vibrant burst of flavor you get from crafting your own.
Once you make it, you’ll understand the magic behind this deliciously easy homemade cranberry sauce and why it deserves a spot on your Thanksgiving dinner table. You’ll never buy the canned stuff again!
The leftover sauce is amazing and can also be used in all kinds of other recipes like Cranberry Brie Bites or my Cranberry Martinis. Other favorite cranberry recipes include my fresh cranberry gelatin mold, cranberry cobbler, and a cranberry fizz!
Table of Contents
- Why This Recipe Is So Great
- Join today and start saving your favorite recipes
- Ingredients needed:
- How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Step 1: Dissolve the sugars in orange juice
- Step 2: Cook the cranberries
- Step 3: Finish with Grand Marnier
- Recipe Tip
- Thanksgiving Recipes
- Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce Recipe
Why This Recipe Is So Great
- Fresh Ingredients, Fresh Flavor: Unlike their canned counterparts, fresh cranberries bring a burst of tartness that perfectly balances the sweetness of the sauce. The addition of orange zest and fresh orange juice elevates the flavor profile of the sauce, providing a bright, citrusy undertone that complements the tartness of the cranberries. The aroma alone as it simmers on the stove will transport you to a cozy winter kitchen.
- Perfectly Balanced Sweetness: Balancing the tartness of the cranberries is a combination of granulated sugar and golden brown sugar. This not only sweetens the sauce but also adds depth and richness. Grand Marnier added at the end is the secret weapon. This orange-flavored liqueur not only enhances the citrusy notes but also introduces a subtle complexity that sets this recipe apart.
- Easy to Make: Crafting this easy homemade fresh cranberry sauce requires nothing more than a medium saucepan and a few simple steps. Simmering the simple ingredients together over medium-high heat allows the flavors to meld, resulting in a sauce that boasts the perfect texture and consistency. It is the perfect addition to any holiday meal.
Join today and start saving your favorite recipes
Create an account to easily save your favorite recipes and access FREE meal plans.
Exact quantities are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
- Equal amounts of granulated sugar and golden brown sugar
- Freshly squeezed orange juice and orange zest
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Fresh cranberries
- Grand Marnier – this is an orange liqueur added for flavor and the alcohol gets burned off
Pin this now to save it for laterPin It
How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Detailed step by step instructions are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
Step 1: Dissolve the sugars in orange juice
In a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat, you’ll combine the sugars with the orange juice, zest, and pumpkin pie spice. This is what heaven smells like.
Step 2: Cook the cranberries
This is the fun part. Add the fresh cranberries. As they cook, they will pop, and as they pop, the mixture will turn into a wonderful deep red sauce.
Step 3: Finish with Grand Marnier
Once the fresh cranberry orange sauce is just about done, you will lower the heat and stir in the orange liqueur. Allow the sauce to simmer for a bit and the alcohol will burn off.
The sauce will gel and thicken as it cools to room temperature and even more so once refrigerated.
Make the cranberry sauce the day before you’re planning on serving it. Not only will this create one less thing you have to cook on the big day, but it will give the sauce more time for the flavors to meld.
Absolutely! Frozen cranberries work well too. Just be sure to thaw them before using.
Certainly! While Grand Marnier adds a unique touch because of it’s orange flavor, you can experiment with other orange-flavored liqueurs, replace it with pure vanilla extract, or omit it entirely.
I prefer to keep my leftover cranberry sauce refrigerated in an airtight container. It will last for quite a long time if stored properly.
Absolutely! In fact, making it ahead allows the flavors to meld, enhancing the overall taste.
Not at all! The combination of sugars is carefully balanced, providing sweetness without overpowering the natural tartness of the cranberries.
Absolutely! It’s versatile enough to be used with a variety of dishes, from leftover turkey sandwiches to desserts like cranberry orange bread or as a topping for ice cream.
No worries! You can easily substitute it with cinnamon for that warm, comforting flavor.
While a food processor isn’t necessary for this recipe, you can use it if you prefer a smoother consistency. Just pulse it a few times.
Yes, you can freeze it for future use. Just thaw it in the refrigerator before serving.
Chances are, if you’re making the best homemade cranberry sauce recipe, you’re about to enjoy Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Here are my other favorite recipes I make every year.
- Thanksgiving Turkey made with Apple Cider Turkey Brine and Dry Rub
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Sausage Stuffing
- Mashed Potatoes
- Turkey Gravy
- Green Bean Casserole
Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce
- Dissolve sugars: In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugars, the orange juice with the orange zest, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir well to dissolve the sugars. This has to be what heaven smells like.
- Cook cranberries: Still cooking over medium heat, stir in the cranberries. Cook, while stirring frequently, until the cranberries pop and the mixture turns into a sauce. This should take about 10 minutes and there will likely still be some cranberries that haven't popped.
- Add Grand Marnier: Turn heat to low and add Grand Marnier. Stir well and cook for another minute or so.
- Serve: Remove from heat. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
This recipe was originally published in November 2014 and has been updated with helpful information, ingredient and process photos, as well as recipe tips. My Cranberry Orange Sauce recipe has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times and is a reader favorite. Don’t worry – the recipe hasn’t changed!