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This Cranberry Sauce recipe is an easy holiday classic! Ready in minutes, this homemade cranberry sauce has only four ingredients and is perfect with turkey and more! 

Close up of Cranberry Sauce in glass bowl

Cranberry Sauce is one of the most simple, easy dishes I make on Thanksgiving, yet it always makes such a big impression! Everyone loves this holiday classic and it’s a delicious must with turkey! It adds one of the most favorite and memorable flavors to Thanksgiving and other holiday meals!

This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is made from scratch with just four ingredients and is ready in just 15 minutes! It’s also a perfect dish to make ahead too. Since it’s so simple to make and absolutely delicious, this is one recipe that you’ll turn to time after time!

Cranberry Sauce

Fresh whole cranberries, fresh orange juice, and sugar on wooden board

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

To make this easy and classic homemade cranberry sauce, I use only four simple ingredients. 


  • cranberries – use a 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, which is equal to about 3 cups
  • fresh orange juice – as well as the zest of the same orange
  • sugar – I use granulated sugar, but you can substitute with another sweetener that you prefer.
  • water

Step by Step Instructions

First, I pour my orange juice, water, and the sugar into a medium saucepan set over medium heat, give it a quick stir and then let the mixture come to a boil.

Adding fresh cranberries to saucepan of boiling orange juice, water and sugar. //

Then, I add in my fresh cranberries and let it all simmer for 8 to 10 minutes.

You’ll notice the cranberries will begin to pop as they cook. I just love the popping sound as the cranberries burst open – and it always seems to make my family come through the kitchen to check out the pops too!

Classic Cranberry Sauce Cooking in Saucepan - Cranberries pop open as ingredients boil. //

Be sure to watch your saucepan especially during this step to make sure that it doesn’t bubble over onto your cooktop.

Classic Cranberry Sauce - Testing consistency and thickness of cooked Cranberry Sauce with a wooden spoon. //

How to Know When It’s Done

I’ve found that eight minutes always works just fine when I make my cranberry sauce, but if you prefer yours just a bit thicker, cooking it another minute or two will do the trick. Just remember that it will thicken as it cools.

The method I use to test the consistency of my cranberry sauce uses my wooden spoon. I spoon a bit onto a wooden spoon and then seeing how thick it is when I pour it back into the saucepan.

Classic Cranberry Sauce - Metal grater with orange zest over saucepan of cranberry sauce. //

Once it has reached the desired consistency, I turn off the heat and stir in most of the fresh orange zest. This is optional, but I can’t recommend it enough!

Classic Cranberry Sauce in glass jar with spoon adding fresh orange zest //

Save just a little bit of orange zest to top the cranberry sauce for serving. It’s so pretty and scrumptious and looks amazing on your Thanksgiving table!

What Does Cranberry Sauce Go With?

This cranberry sauce certainly tantalizes your taste buds when you serve it along with the Roast Turkey or Roast Turkey Breastsouthern cornbread dressingturkey gravy or giblet gravyMashed Potatoes and more! And it’s absolutely delicious served alongside our favorite Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel topping.  It’s a definite must have dish at our family Thanksgiving meal and other times throughout the year!

It is so simple to make that you may even decide to make it year round and not save only for the holiday season. Honestly, why save it just for the holidays?! It not only tastes amazing on slices of leftover turkey in turkey wraps  and turkey sandwiches when Thanksgiving is over, but leftover cranberry sauce is scrumptious on top of buttermilk pancakes or oatmeal for breakfast too!

Can You Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce?

Yes! Even though my cranberry sauce recipe comes together in a jiffy, we all know that holidays can be busy! To make your day even easier, you can absolutely make this cranberry sauce ahead of time!

Make Ahead Instructions

Simply follow the recipe instructions and set aside to cool completely.

Refrigerate: Then, you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Freeze:  Again follow the recipe instructions, let cool completely, and place in freezer safe airtight containers. It will store in the freezer for up to a month.

If frozen, you can thaw in the refrigerator overnight. You can serve it cold or reheat and serve if you prefer it warm. So easy!

If you are planning ahead for your Thanksgiving meal, I’ve made it easier for you with my Make Ahead Thanksgiving meal plan and more!

Classic Cranberry Sauce in bowl with spoon.  //

More Thanksgiving and Holiday Favorites:

Sweet Potato Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Pie

If you are planning ahead for your Thanksgiving meal, I’ve made it easier for you with my Make Ahead Thanksgiving meal plan and more!

More Favorite Cranberry Recipes

Cranberry Salsa over Cream Cheese

Cranberry Orange Scones

Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Sugared Cranberries

Here’s my Classic Cranberry Sauce recipe. You will love how easy it is to make from scratch and definitely want to add this to your holiday menu!

5 from 4 votes

Classic Cranberry Sauce

Side Dish 15 mins

Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipe - This cranberry sauce recipe is a classic holiday recipe. Made of fresh cranberries, orange zest and juice, this cranberry sauce recipe is a must make! //
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Author Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch
Classic Cranberry Sauce recipe perfect for serving throughout the holidays. This cranberry sauce recipe is a holiday classic! Made with just four fresh ingredients and ready in minutes, this homemade cranberry sauce is a must make!


  • 1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, washed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • orange zest optional


  • Bring orange juice, sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat.
  • Add cranberries and cook over low-medium heat until they begin to pop and thickened to desired consistency, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, add orange zest and stir until just combined.
  • Top with additional orange zest for serving, if desired.


Make Ahead Instructions:
To make ahead, simply follow the recipe instructions and set aside to cool completely. Then, you can either store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or in the freezer for up to a month. If frozen, you can thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then serve cold or reheat and serve if you prefer your cranberry sauce warmed.

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Robyn xo

Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipe - This cranberry sauce recipe is a classic holiday recipe. Made of fresh cranberries, orange zest and juice, this cranberry sauce recipe is a must make! //

From the Add a Pinch recipe archives. Originally published 2010.

Sauces Recipes

Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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Recipe Review


  1. Hi Robyn! I recently found your blog and absolutely love it. I gave you an award!

    Happy Thanksgiving

  2. Cranberry sauce is one of the things I look so forward to at Thanksgiving; maybe it’s the years as a kid of thinking cranberry sauce was that horrible canned, jelled wobbly stuff to discovering how amazing it is when fresh berries are used. Maybe because it is SO easy to make? But think the main reason is that I love making up new versions; this year doing Cosmopolitan Cranberry Sauce; yep…vodka, lime and well…cranberries!

    This is simple and classic and a must have on our table too…so good.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Hi Robyn,
    I’m getting ready to make this and step 1 says to add the water, but there is no water listed in the ingredients. Help! And THANKS for posting this!!!!

    1. Hi Lynn,
      Thanks so much for catching that. You’ll need 1 cup of water! I hope you love this as much as we do!

  4. I am making this for Thanksgiving. My husband bought a bulk bag of cranberries from Sam’s Club. I was wondering how many oz/cups approximately of cranberries does the recipe take. You just mention 1 package.

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Tammy,
      I use a 12-ounce bag (3 cups) of cranberries in my recipe. I hope you enjoy it! Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Making this for thanksgiving but it seems very liquidy, not thick like I imagined it would be. I’m letting it simmer in hopes of it thickening up. I followed the recipe exactly. Does yours get thick, or no?

  6. Good cranberry sauce does add something to the Thanksgiving Day meal. Thank you for sharing your version. Pinning it!! Have a Happy 2014 Thanksgiving!!

  7. Wonder how I could make it, in a form. How do they make it a smooth solid that comes in a can? I’d like to take the cranberries out, because I don’t like that “taste” of the cranberry skins.

  8. Making cranberry sauce from scratch will be a first for me this year. I look forward to trying your recipe!

    1. I use fresh cranberries in this recipe, Mariam. I’ve never used dried ones. But you could use frozen if you wish, just following the recipe. Thanks!

  9. 5 stars

  10. 5 stars
    Just made this, as someone else said easiest thing I’ll ever make!! Consistency is perfect and I can’t believe I ever served that horrible jelly stuff!!! Can’t wait to see how family likes it. Thanks so much and Happy Thanksgiving! 

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, Joni! Isn’t this so simple and so delicious?! I am excited that you tried it and enjoy it! Hope your family likes it as well! Thanks! xo

  11. 5 stars
    Just made it and it came out beautiful and delicious! I love classic simple recipes and this was perfect. Thank you! 

    1. Celeste, this recipe will have enough servings for 8 to 10 people using one 12-ounce bag of cranberries. You would need to make this recipe about 4 times for 40 people.