This 3 ingredient homemade cranberry sauce will blow your mind with how easy it is to make and how perfectly it turns out every time! It is the perfect addition to your holiday menu and can even be made in advance to save time on Thanksgiving or Christmas you can enjoy your family!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Cranberry sauce is a staple at our house from Thanksgiving through Christmas. The holiday season just wouldn’t be the same without it! I grew up eating cranberry sauce out of a can, and admittedly, I do still love it, but as an adult I started making my own and love being able to adjust it to just how I like it! Plus, it is so easy, why not?!
I have tried many different types of cranberry sauces over the years. Basic, more spiced, chunkier, thinner, thicker, etc. My favorite, and this homemade cranberry sauce recipe, is just the classic though. It doesn’t have a lot of heavy spices or anything else, it is just the classic cranberry flavor that shines through. I am including instructions for making it more tart or more sweet. I like mine on the tart side, but I know most people including kiddos, like it on the sweeter side. Above all else, it goes absolutely perfectly with Thanksgiving Turkey (try my Instant Pot Turkey for another easy recipe!)
If you have never made cranberry sauce from scratch before, you are in for a treat. It is so easy and delicious, I think you may never make it another way again! So let’s get started!
How do you prepare cranberries?
The great news about working with cranberries is that there is very little to do to prep them for the recipe. You can find fresh cranberries bagged in most grocery stores starting between the end of October and the beginning of November. They are often sold in 12 ounce bags which is what is used for this recipe. Once you get them home, just open the bag rinse them off and then pick any errant stems that might have gotten missed in the packing process. Then you are ready to get cooking!
How do you make Jellied Cranberry Sauce?
The great thing about making cranberry sauce is that cranberries naturally have a lot of pectin, the ingredient that creates the jelly like texture, in them which means that you can easily make jellied cranberry sauce without putting in extra additives to make it gel. By cooking the cranberries the pectin is released. The recipe below creates perfect jellied cranberry sauce.
How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce
This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is super simple and one I have been making for many, many years. You can follow along with me here to get the step by step along with my tips and answers to frequently asked questions, or if you want the quick version, feel free to scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Ingredients
- 12 oz cranberries- This is generally the size of the bag that they sell at regular grocery stores. You can also find them at wholesale clubs like Costco or Sams but they will be larger sizes you will either need to measure out the cranberries or double/triple the recipe based on the size if you want to use all of them.
- 1 cup orange juice- I just use regular minute maid orange juice. You can use whatever your preferred brand/variety of prepared orange juice is. In a pinch you could just use water but you will lose a little flavor and need to add a bit of extra white sugar to make up for the natural sugar in the juice.
- 1/2 – 1 cup white sugar– Use sugar amount based on preferred sweetness:
- 1/2 cup for more tart cranberry sauce- this is my favorite! It isn’t overly tart but has much more of a zing than the others. This is also a great option for when you are using the cranberry sauce as an ingredient in something else like a sandwich or a topping on cream cheese, or brie. Since you get smaller amounts of the cranberry in those dishes this gives more of a flavor punch with every bite.
- 1 cup for sweet cranberry sauce- This still has a bit of zing but is more universally sweet and how my kids prefer it.
- 3/4 cup for mildly sweet cranberry sauce- This one is a nice compromise in between the more tart and more sweet sauce.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Instructions
- Combine cranberries, orange juice and sugar (amount based on your sweetness preference) in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and cook stirring frequently until the mixture begins to boil. You don’t need to stir constantly but do keep an eye on it and stir often to keep it cooking evenly.
- Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 3-5 additional minutes, or until it is the “chunkiness” you desire. The longer you cook it the more the berries break down so it become smoother and more jelly like in texture. For more whole berries cook less, and for more jelly like texture cook longer. I cooked the one pictured for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool in fridge until serving.Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. You can either put it in your serving dish and cover if you will be serving when cool, or if you have made it ahead and it will be sitting more than a couple of hours, I recommend storing it in a tupperware container and then transferring to your serving dish when ready to serve.
- Serve chilled and ENJOY! You can also store leftovers in the fridge and eat through out the week on sandwiches or with cheese and crackers.
I hope that you enjoy this easy homemade cranberry sauce recipe as much as we do! Even if you have never made cranberry sauce, I know you will feel like a pro with this recipe. If you do get a chance to make it, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below! It makes my day to know others are enjoying the recipes I share. And if you snap a pic, share it on Instagram and tag me @easyfamilyrecipes!
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Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- 12 oz cranberries
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/2 - 1 cup white sugar
Use sugar amount based on preferred sweetness:
- 1/2 cup for more tart cranberry sauce
- 1 cup for sweet cranberry sauce
- 3/4 cup for mildly sweet cranberry sauce
- Combine cranberries, orange juice and sugar (amount based on your sweetness preference) in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and cook stirring frequently until the mixture begins to boil.
- Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 3-5 additional minutes, or until it is the "chunkiness" you desire. The longer you cook the more smooth it will be.
- Remove from heat and cool in fridge until serving. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Serve chilled and ENJOY!
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)