Basic Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Some things go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, and, one of our favorites — cranberry sauce and Thanksgiving. Where did this tradition come from? Cranberry sauce has graced Thanksgiving tables for many, many years, and the dish provides some much-appreciated sweetness amongst a sea of savory foods.

Wellness coach Miriam Hahn is the brains behind this recipe and tells us, "Making homemade cranberry sauce is super easy and far superior than the canned type you often see cut into slices." Hahn goes on to say, "There are so many health benefits of cranberries and I love this time of year when the bags of fresh cranberries are plentiful. Since they have a long shelf life, I buy several bags and pop in fresh cranberries to my daily smoothie." Cranberry sauce goes great with turkey (obviously), but it is also a great topper for oatmeal, toast, or yogurt. Who would have thought we could use cranberries for so many other things?

Gather the ingredients for basic cranberry sauce recipe

If you love a short ingredient list, we are going to make your day. To make this recipe you will need one bag of fresh cranberries, sugar, water, and an orange. Pretty simple right? "Cranberries are very tart, so you need quite a bit of sugar to sweeten them up," Hahn explains. "If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake, you can get away with adding half the amount and still enjoy this wonderful Thanksgiving treat."

Boil the cranberries

We're going to start by adding the sugar and water to a small pot and bringing this mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 5 more minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, at which point you can add in the cranberries. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. The cranberries will start to break down at this point and you can give them a little help with a potato masher or wooden mallet.

Mash the cranberries

The cranberries will start to break down at this point and you can give them a little help with a potato masher or wooden mallet. Hahn says, "You still want a chunky mixture so no need to over-mash."

Add orange zest, then chill and serve

When the cranberries have been cooking for 15 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest. This will give our cranberry sauce some fresh citrus flavor and the fragrant smell will make you happy you went the homemade route.

Then to put the sauce in a glass container with an air-tight seal and refrigerate for at least an hour so it can thicken. It's a nice touch to add some extra orange zest before serving. Hahn says you can make this cranberry sauce up to 5 days in advance of the big day and leftovers should be kept in a sealed container.

Basic Cranberry Sauce Recipe
4.9 from 34 ratings
What Thanksgiving spread is complete without cranberry sauce? Skip the canned stuff and opt for this easy and delicious homemade recipe instead.
Prep Time
Cook Time
cranberry sauce in white bowl with spoon
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • zest of 1 orange
  1. In a small pot, combine the sugar and water and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the cranberries to the pot and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. The cranberries should begin to burst on their own. Using a potato masher or wooden mallet, press down on the cranberries to mash them into a chunky texture.
  3. Remove the cranberries from the stove and add in the orange zest. Stir to combine.
  4. Chill for a minimum of 1 hour so the sauce thickens.
  5. Serve as desired.
Calories per Serving 99
Total Fat 0.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 25.7 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Total Sugars 22.6 g
Sodium 1.8 mg
Protein 0.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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