Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This homemade cranberry sauce is classic and delicious and so easy to make. It can be made with fresh or frozen cranberries and ready in no time. Forget the canned stuff - this homemade from scratch recipe is too easy and too delicious not to make. It’s the perfect recipe to make ahead as well. Flavoured with orange zest and orange juice and sweetened with sugar, it is the best combination of sweet and tart! The perfect complement to your turkey dinner or slathered on your buttered cornbread as I like to eat it. This particular cranberry sauce recipe that I’m sharing with you today is fool-proof. It takes about 15 minutes, start to finish, and is the perfect combination of sweet and tart. It’s flavored with orange juice, orange zest, orange liqueur and wait for it….a touch of vanilla extract. More about all these ingredients and any add ins or substitutions below. So easy you guys - you are going to love it!

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce is the perfect complement to every turkey dinner. Nothing is more satisfying than the flavour of a sweet and tart homemade cranberry sauce. You don’t have to wait until you make a big turkey dinner to enjoy this super easy side.  You can serve this cranberry sauce along side a simple Roasted Chicken, a delicious Pork Roast. Adding orange juice and a splash of orange liqueur not only adds extra flavor but really elevates this cranberry sauce.  Leave a few berries whole or don’t or you could even puree the entire sauce…..either way, homemade is best!


  • Cranberries - use fresh or frozen cranberries. Both will work in this recipe. No need to thaw if using frozen.
  • Orange juice & Zest - there is nothing like the combo of orange and cranberry and that applies to cranberry sauce as well. I like to use ½ cup of water and ¼ cup of orange juice but you can reverse that and use more orange juice for more of that orange flavour coming through.
  • Orange liqueur - this is optional to add but I love to add a splash of it whenever I’m using orange juice in a recipe. You don’t really taste the booziness but the flavour it adds is so good.
  • Sugar - granulated or brown sugar will work its up to what you like to use and what you have on hand. For a reduced-sugar cranberry sauce, use half the amount of sugar called for, then taste and add more as needed. Also reduce the amount of water to ½ cup, adding more as needed if the sauce seems too thick. To make sugar-free cranberry sauce, substitute a sugar replacer like Splenda or Truvia for the sugar.You could also replace the sugar with honey if you would like a naturally sweetened cranberry sauce.
  • Vanilla Extract - I know this sounds odd but trust me, it sort of brings all the flavours together. I was skeptical myself  until I tried it.
  • Extra Add-ins -  Stir in any of the following at the end of cooking: pecans, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.

How To Make Cranberry Sauce From Scratch

  1. Assemble the sauce: Add all the ingredients (except the orange zest and vanilla) to a smaller pot and stir to combine. Turn the heat to a medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Finish the sauce: Reduce the heat to a medium and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will notice the cranberries will burst as they cook. Remove from heat and stir in the zest and vanilla at this time. Let cool completely at room temperature before serving.
  3. I like to reserve some of the cranberries and stir them in at the end so the sauce has a bit of texture but that is totally optional.

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce Tips:

  • For the best consistency, make sure the cranberry sauce is thoroughly chilled before serving so it has time to set up. Making it the day before gives it plenty of time to chill and saves you a task on the day itself.
  • You can make this cranberry sauce up to a week before serving.
  • Don’t skip the orange juice or replace it with water, it’ll help with the cranberry sauce not tasting bitter.
  • Add your cranberries whole and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes. Remember that the sauce thickens as it cools.

What to do with leftover cranberry sauce:

This sauce is so multi purpose – you won’t even believe it. Not only is it delicious on many a protein, but it’s also totally mouth watering when eaten with sweets! Leftover cranberry sauce is perfect to top ice cream, cheesecake or sponge cake. It’s great on turkey sandwiches or layer it into overnight oats or stir it into warm vanilla porridge or your yoghurt and granola, or on top of french toast, pancakes or cornbread. The possibilities are endless!

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

More Turkey Dinner Sides You’ll Love:


Servings: approx 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins


  • 12 ounce bag cranberries, rinsed (approx 3-4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice (about ½ large orange)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or your favourite orange liqueur (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Rinse cranberries and set aside ½ cup of them.  These will be stirred in at the end for extra texture. This is optional.
  2. Combine the remaining cranberries, water, orange juice, liqueur, and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring up to a simmer as you stir. Once simmering, reduce heat to low-medium. While stirring occasionally, continue to cook until liquid has reduced and cranberries have burst and thickened, about 10 more minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup reserved cranberries if using, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days.

Recipe Notes

  • Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prepare the sauce 5-7 days ahead of time. Cool completely, cover tightly, then refrigerate until ready to use. Bring to room temperature or warm on the stove/in the microwave, if desired, before serving. To freeze, cool sauce completely. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or warm on the stove/in the microwave before serving.
  • If you prefer a smooth cranberry sauce feel free to puree your sauce when its done cooking.

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce