This homemade cranberry sauce is a 6 ingredient recipe that’s made with fresh cranberries, sugar and a hint of spice. Homemade cranberry sauce tastes so much better than store bought, and it takes just minutes to make.
It’s so tempting to just pick up a can of cranberry sauce for the holidays, but once you try making homemade cranberry sauce, you’ll never go back to the store bought stuff! The flavor is so much better with fresh cranberries and you can customize the sweetness level to your liking.
How do you make homemade cranberry sauce?
The first step is to get some cranberries. I prefer fresh cranberries, but frozen cranberries will also work fine. The cranberries are simmered with sugar and water until the cranberries burst, then a few aromatic spices are added to the mix. You can either add all the cranberries in at once, or add about 3/4 of the berries, then stir in the other 1/4 later on so that there are some whole berries in the final sauce.
What ingredients are in cranberry sauce?
The basic ingredients in cranberry sauce are cranberries, sugar and water. I also add a pinch of salt, sprinkle of cinnamon and drop of vanilla extract to enhance the flavors of the cranberries.
Can you make cranberry sauce ahead of time?
You can make cranberry sauce up to 3 days before you plan to serve it. I always make my cranberry sauce at least one day in advance because I feel like the flavors have more time to develop as they sit in the fridge.
Can you freeze cranberry sauce?
You can freeze cranberry sauce for up to one month before you plan to serve it. Store your sauce in a resealable freezer bag or airtight container. Simply reheat your cranberry sauce over medium heat in a skillet. Freezing the sauce introduces more water into the mix, so your cranberry sauce will not be as thick as when it was originally made. You can simmer your sauce for about 5-6 minutes to let some of the liquid evaporate off so that the sauce can get thick again.
Homemade cranberry sauce variations
This is a basic cranberry sauce recipe, but you can add all different ingredients to cranberry sauce to customize it to your liking.
- Brown Sugar Cranberry Sauce: Substitute brown sugar for the granulated sugar.
- Cranberry Orange Sauce: Use orange juice instead of water and stir in 2 teaspoons of orange zest.
- Vanilla Cranberry Sauce: Add one split vanilla bean to the sauce and let it sit overnight in the fridge.
- Cranberry Cherry Sauce: Add 1 cup of chopped frozen dark cherries to the sauce.
- Cranberry Apple Sauce: Use apple cider instead of water and add 1 diced peeled apple to the sauce.
How to use leftover cranberry sauce
I typically don’t have a ton of cranberry sauce leftover, but if you find yourself with extra, here are some ideas to use it up.
- Cranberry Meatballs
- Cranberry Yogurt Parfaits with vanilla yogurt, cranberry sauce and chopped pecans.
- Cranberry Jello Salad
- Turkey and Cranberry Sauce Sandwiches.
- Pour leftover sauce over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers.
Now that you know how to make homemade cranberry sauce, you can bypass the canned stuff forever!
More Thanksgiving Recipes
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Southern Cornbread Dressing
- Bacon Green Bean Bundles
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows
- Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Video
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries frozen can also be used
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the water and sugar in a medium pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil.
- For a traditional cranberry sauce: Add the cranberries to a pot and boil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries have burst.
- For a whole berry cranberry sauce: Add 3/4 of the the cranberries to a pot and boil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries have burst. Add the remaining 1/4 of the cranberries to the pot.
- Add the salt, cinnamon and vanilla extract to the sauce, then cook for 1 minute.
- Let the sauce sit at room temperature until cool. Transfer to a storage container and place in the fridge until ready to use.
This recipe was originally published on October 18, 2018 and was updated on October 14, 2021 with new content.