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Oftentimes, Cranberry Sauce becomes an afterthought on the Thanksgiving dinner table.
It certainly was on mine growing up. I don’t think we ever had cranberry sauce made from scratch during the holidays.
I wouldn’t have thought much about it until I watched Samin Nosrat on her Netflix show Salt Fat Acid Heat.
She dedicated an entire episode to the fundamental element of any well-balanced table: ACID.
That’s exactly what cranberry sauce provides: acidity and tartness, which is necessary if you think about all of the rich, salty, and savory food served on this holiday.
It brings to life all of those other dishes. But there’s nothing worse than that bland, overly sweet canned cranberry sauce that maintains the cylindrical shape of the can it came in.
This homemade recipe is 1,000 times more flavorful. It adds that zing we all want on our plates – and it’s so pretty, too!
How to Make Cranberry Sauce
Fresh or Frozen Cranberries?
Both fresh and frozen cranberries will work just fine to make this cranberry sauce recipe – but don’t use dried cranberries, as that won’t work.
Orange Zest and Juice
While these ingredients are listed as optional below, I highly recommend adding both to this recipe, to add a beautiful freshness and flavor to the sauce. Be sure to zest your orange before you slice it open to juice.
How to Thicken Cranberry Sauce
If you prefer thicker cranberry sauce, simply simmer the sauce a little longer on the stove – but keep in mind that it will thicken as it cools.
Can Cranberry Sauce Be Made in Advance?
Yes! This recipe can be made up to 1 week in advance. See just below for storage info.
How to Store Cranberry Sauce
Store for up to 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve.
More Thanksgiving Recipes:
See ALL of my best Thanksgiving recipes here!
(200 grams) granulated sugar
freshly grated orange zest,
(340 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries,
(about 3 cups)
Bring the water, juice, sugar, and zest to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the cranberries and cinnamon, and simmer until two-thirds of the cranberries have burst and the mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 to 12 minutes. Taste and season with salt and add more sugar if necessary.
Allow to cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
If using fresh cranberries, rinse them first.
If you don’t have orange juice, use water in its place, too.
You can also add in 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier or triple sec after cooking.
This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated with additional recipe tips. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.