Homemade Cranberry Sauce made with fresh whole cranberries, freshly squeezed orange juice and zest, and a splash of Grand Marnier is a the sweetest and flavorful Thanksgiving side dish. The leftovers are amazing. Full recipe and step-by-step video makes this Cranberry Orange Sauce easy to make!
Why this recipe is so great:
- This is the best recipe you will find! Only a few simple ingredients are needed, it is quick and easy to make, tastes better than any cranberry sauce you've ever had, and it will become part of your annual Thanksgiving menu!
- Easy to make ahead. I always do as much Thanksgiving prep the day before as possible. That way, on Thanksgiving day, I can have a clean kitchen and a glass of wine. This fresh cranberry sauce is the perfect make ahead Thanksgiving recipe because it tastes even better the next day!
- Make extra! Go ahead and double or triple the recipe. Not only will everyone love it as prepared, but you can use leftover cranberry sauce in all sorts of other recipes like a festive Cranberry Fruit Dip or a fancy Fresh Cranberry Gelatin Mold.
- Reader favorite. I originally posted this recipe way back in 2014. Not only do I make it every single year, but I've had readers tell me they do the same. This recipe has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times and I've never had anyone say they didn't love it.
Exact quantities are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary. Scroll down to the Recipe Tips section for substitution recommendations, if needed.
- 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
How to make cranberry sauce with orange juice:
Detailed step by step instructions are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
- Dissolve 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.
- Cook 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.
- 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.
Recipe tips for perfect results:
- Storage: Keep any cranberry sauce that was made ahead or leftover in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Should last at least 5-7 days, if not longer.
- Serving recommendations: Homemade cranberry orange sauce can be served slightly warm, at room temperature, or chilled. It tastes wonderful either way!
- Cranberries - Fresh cranberries are recommended, however frozen can be used
- Fresh squeezed orange juice - Concentrated or bottled orange juice can be used in place of fresh squeezed, but if you want the best tasting sauce, use fresh juicy oranges
- Orange zest - This can be omitted or replaced with lemon zest, but the overall flavor will change
- Pumpkin pie spice - You can buy this blend at any major grocery store, but this can easily be replaced with pure cinnamon
- Sugars - if you are out of either granulated or golden brown sugar, you can replace one with the other
- Grand Marnier - This can be replaced with Cointreau, Triple Sec, or any other orange liqueur. Otherwise, it can be replaced with vanilla or even omitted, if needed.
Get a quick glimpse at how easy it is to make this homemade cranberry sauce by watching the recipe video in the recipe card below. You'll never go back to buying canned store bought cranberry sauce again!
Other great fresh cranberry recipes:
Whether you bought too many fresh cranberries in preparation for this recipe or you just really love the taste of a tart cranberry, you'll love these favorites.
- Buttermilk Cranberry Pancakes
- Cranberry Orange Bread
- Easy Cranberry Cobbler
- Cranberry Martini
- Puff Pastry Cranberry Brie Bites
- Cranberry Vodka Screwdriver
If you’ve made this or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out. I love hearing from my readers!
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Full Recipe Instructions
Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce
CLICK TO PLAY RECIPE VIDEO
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup golden brown sugar
- zest from one orange
- ¾ cup fresh squeezed orange juice ((equivalent to the juice from about 2 large Valencia oranges))
- ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or substitute with cinnamon)
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries (rinsed)
- 2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
- 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.
- My preference is to use fresh cranberries, but you can also use frozen cranberries and it will turn out the same. I just have a preference for watching the fresh cranberries burst as they cook.
- I also recommend using freshly squeezed orange juice instead of OJ from a bottle. The recipe calls for the zest from an orange, so you might as well squeeze the juice out of it. The flavors of orange and cranberry go hand in hand.
- I prefer to add the Grand Marnier, which is a lovely orange liqueur, at the end of the cooking process and only allow a little of the alcohol to burn off.
- You can then serve your homemade cranberry sauce slightly warm, at room temperature, or even chilled. The taste will blow your mind!
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!
How do you use in a cocktail? Do you purée it first? Water it down? Seems too thick and chunky for a drink.
I mix with vodka, shake really well, refrigerate for awhile, and then strain. Delicious!
This is my 3rd or 4th Year to make this recipe since I found it. I had never eaten cranberry sauce until I made this recipe the first time and I love, love, love it!!! It is sooooo good! Try it, you’ll love it too!
I’ve used this recipe for a number of years! It’s my family’s favourite! Have you tried canning it? I have a bunch of cranberries to use up and would prefer to not freeze the sauce.
I haven't tried canning it but I would think it would work similar to any jelly or jam?