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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!

homemade fresh cranberry sauec

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.

Ingredients needed:

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  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.

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!
  • Substitutions:
    • 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!

cranberry orange sauce in dish

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.

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!

You can also follow along on PINTERESTFACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes to satisfy any foodie craving!

Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce

Prep5 minutes
Cook12 minutes
Total17 minutes
Servings 12 servings
This sweet and incredibly flavorful Fresh Cranberry Sauce made with fresh orange juice and Grand Marnier is a must have Thanksgiving side dish.




  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
  • zest from one orange
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (equivalent to the juice from about 2 large Valencia oranges)
  • 1/4 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.
    pouring orange juice into pan
  • 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.
    whole cranberries cooking in orange juice
  • Add Grand Marnier: Turn heat to low and add Grand Marnier. Stir well and cook for another minute or so.
    adding Grand Marnier to homemade cranberry sauce
  • Serve: Remove from heat. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
    cranberry sauce cooking on stove


Recipe makes 2-3 cups, nutritional information based on a serving size of about 3 Tablespoons.

Recipe tips:

  • 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!


Calories: 87kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Sodium: 3mg, Potassium: 36mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 19g, Vitamin A: 15IU, Vitamin C: 3.8mg, Calcium: 10mg, Iron: 0.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

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!

Hi! I’m Krissy.

I love to create the BEST versions of your favorite recipes. If you love to cook, love to eat, or just have a deep appreciation for good food, you’re in the right place! Stick around… I have hundreds of recipes for you to make.

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    1. Hi Sandra, Sorry for the late reply. This recipe makes about 3 cups and I figured about 1/4 cup per person, so it should serve 12 (without leftovers).

  1. I made this as a gift for my ladies at work for Thanksgiving and it came out amazing!! The only thing I changed was I used was orange juice instead of fresh oranges. Thanks for the recipe!!! It was a HIT!! I’m a big gift giver with my baking and food giving and this one went over big I put it in individual mason jars was so cute.

    1. Hi Catherine, The skins definitely give the sauce some texture. I wouldn’t really call it lumpy, however it is not perfectly smooth. Kind of like how preserves are compared to a jelly. Because the cooked sauce is thick, you can’t really strain it. You can definitely mash the cranberry sauce which would help. I’m thinking you could also process the raw cranberries through the food processor or blender before cooking if you’re looking for a smoother consistency.

  2. Since you serve it warm, do you cook it last minute? I normally cook my cranberries the day before and refrigerate until about an hour before I plan to serve TG or Christmas dinner. There is so much going on with getting the food on the table, do you cook the cranberries the day (or two) before and leave them out, without refrigerating them, for a day or two? Looks like a delicious recipe!

    1. Hi Maryann, I try to cook everything except the turkey the day before, so I’ll usually just warm the sauce up over very low heat in a pan before serving!

  3. Hi Krissy, I will verify to try your cranberry recipe. It sounds and looks delicious. BTW, I’ve tried a similar sauce but with uncooked cranberries. A friend grinds the cranberries, a couple of oranges, adds a cup sugar, mixes everything together and let’s it marinate for 2 to 3 days. The flavor is amazing! I will have try your recipe though. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great recipe! I started making fresh cranberry sauce about 6 years ago! This recipe is pretty much what I use .. minus the liquor.. I also add fresh pomegranate seeds and the just .. that give the sauce a little crunch!