Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe (2024)

This recipe for classic Cranberry Sauce is so easy and made with just 3 ingredients. No matter how many batches of cranberry sauce I’ve made, I always come back to this one. It’s simple, it’s classic, and it’s really the best.

Once you try homemade cranberry sauce, there’s just no going back to storebought. It’s better in taste, texture, and presentation. Pair this iconic holiday side dish with your Juicy Roast Turkey for a burst of sweet-tart flavor in every bite.

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We love cranberries for the holidays, from Sugared Cranberries (and you can use leftovers to make this cranberry sauce!) to moist and fluffy Cranberry Bread. If you are looking for a go-to cranberry sauce, this is it! Plus, you can change it up in so many different ways and make it your own (see variations below).

Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Homemade Cranberry Sauce is iconic for the holidays and a staple of our Thanksgiving menu every year. Nothing pairs better with Thanksgiving Turkey. The combination of sweet and tangy with savory meats is irresistibly good.

Read on for our tips on how to sweeten this recipe the natural way, without processed sugar. We’ve also included some fun variations to really make this recipe your own because there are a hundred ways to make cranberry sauce.


You don’t need much to make a good cranberry sauce (scroll down to get the full amounts available in the recipe card):

  • Sweetener – Use your choice of granulated sugar or a natural sweetener, like honey or maple syrup. My favorite is maple syrup because it adds a nice layer of maple flavor.
  • Cranberries –We love making this recipe with whole fresh cranberries. Many grocery stores will carry bags of fresh cranberries when they’re in season.
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Pro Tip: You don’t need cornstarch to set this perfect cranberry sauce. Cranberries contain pectin, a natural thickener that is released when the berries are heated. If you simmer the sauce long enough, it will thicken all on its own.

Can I Use Frozen Cranberries?

Yes, this recipe will work with frozen cranberries, too. Frozen cranberries will take a little longer to come to a boil and simmer, but the texture always turns out just as delicious.

It’s easy to freeze fresh cranberries in the bags they came in (or transfer them to a freezer bag). They’ll keep frozen for up to a year, and we almost always have a stash in our freezer.

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How to Make Cranberry Sauce from Scratch

We just love how quickly this recipe comes together on the stovetop. It’s just 3 steps:

  1. Dissolve the Sugar – In a saucepan, combine your sweetener of choice with water on the stovetop, and bring it to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  2. Add Cranberries and Cook –Add the cranberries to the pot and let them come to a low boil, then cook, uncovered, until the sauce thickens. Remember to stir occasionally.
  3. Cool and Serve –Stir in additional sweetener to taste, then leave the cranberry sauce to cool. See below for easy serving suggestions.
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Pro Tip: If your cranberry sauce still tastes a bit bitter or too tart after it’s cooked, you can add more sweetener to taste.

Easy Variations

My favorite variation is this classic and simple version, but there are so many ways you can change up and enjoy this sauce. Below are more easy variations and add-in ideas (see the recipe card for more detailed instructions):

  • Cranberry Orange Sauce
  • Lemon zest and freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • Orange zest and orange juice
  • Dried cherries and pecans

Common Questions

What is the difference between Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Relish?

Cranberry relish is generally more bitter, made from raw cranberries that are minced up in a food processor.

Can I add less sugar?

Yes! Less sugar or added sweetness will result in a more tart and tangy sauce. Start with ½ cup of sweetener and add more to taste.

Can I double the recipe?

Homemade cranberry sauce freezes beautifully (see below), so go ahead and make a double batch if you’d like to have extras.

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Ways to Serve Cranberry Sauce

We’ll often serve this homemade sauce cold or at room temperature. Here are just some of the many ways to enjoy it:

  • Roasts –Pair it with succulent roasts like your Roast Turkey, Beef Tenderloin, or Pork Tenderloin.
  • Stuffing – it pairs great with Thanksgiving stuffing.
  • Bread – Spread the sauce over fluffy Dinner Rolls or even over toast in the morning. It’s also great to spread in a Chicken Salad sandwich.
  • Topping –Cranberries make a great topping for desserts like Cheesecake.


This classic condiment keeps well for days after it’s made. Here’s how to store your leftovers:

  • To Refrigerate: Store the cooled cranberries airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • Freezing: You can freeze homemade cranberry sauce for up to 2 months. Seal it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag to store, and defrost it in the fridge before serving.
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We can’t wait for you to try this simple, yet unbelievably tangy and tasty 3-ingredient cranberry sauce.

More Cranberry Recipes

Can’t get enough cranberries for the holidays? Check out even more easy cranberry recipes:

  • Sparkling Cranberry Pineapple Punch
  • Cranberry Orange Scones
  • Cranberry Bundt Cake
  • Sweet Potato Kale Salad with Cranberries
  • Apple Cranberry Danish

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

5 from 67 votes

Author: Natasha Kravchuk

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce is an iconic Thanksgiving side dish made with just 3 ingredients. You can sweeten it with sugar or use a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup (our favorite!).The sweet and tangy flavors pair perfectly with savory turkey.


Cook Time: 20 minutes mins

Total Time: 20 minutes mins


Servings: 8 servings

  • 1 cup granulated sugar, or 3/4 cup honey or maple syrup, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries

Optional add-ins at the start of cooking:

  • 2 wide strips of lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 wide strips of orange zest, plus 1/4 cup juice
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick


  • In a large saucepan, combine sugar (or maple syrup or honey) and water. Set over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add cranberries and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 12-15 minutes.

  • Add more maple syrup, honey, or sugar to taste if needed, then remove from heat and cool sauce to room temperature before serving.


  • To Store: Once cranberry sauce has cooled to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Nutrition Per Serving

116kcal Calories30g Carbs0.2g Protein0.1g Fat0.004g Saturated Fat0.02g Polyunsaturated Fat0.01g Monounsaturated Fat2mg Sodium35mg Potassium2g Fiber27g Sugar26IU Vitamin A6mg Vitamin C4mg Calcium0.1mg Iron

  • Full Nutrition Label
  • Nutrition Disclosure

Nutrition Facts

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Amount per Serving



% Daily Value*





Saturated Fat




Polyunsaturated Fat



Monounsaturated Fat



























Vitamin A





Vitamin C














* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Course: Condiments, Side Dish

Cuisine: American

Keyword: cranberry sauce, homemade cranberry sauce, how to make cranberry sauce

Skill Level: Easy

Cost to Make: $

Calories: 116

Natasha Kravchuk

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe (9)

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe (2024)


What takes the bitterness out of cranberry sauce? ›

"Instead, start by stirring in one tablespoon maple syrup and one teaspoon of a sweet drink like apple juice, orange juice, or fruity white or red wine. Add more to taste. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (in small amounts, it intensifies sweetness)."

What thickens cranberry sauce? ›

The sugar in the syrup helps the mixture thicken. It could also be because you haven't cooked the mixture long enough. The cranberries need to cook long enough to burst so that they release plenty of pectin which is a thickener naturally found in cranberries.

Is homemade cranberry sauce worth it? ›

We can see there is a significant difference in the nutrition facts between the two sauces. The homemade cranberry sauce has nearly half the calories, carbohydrates, and sugars compared to the store brand. It also has more fiber as well as potassium!

How to improve cranberry sauce? ›

Adding a teaspoon or two of fresh lemon or orange zest, a tablespoon of chopped candied peel, or even a splash of juice to your canned sauce will brighten flavors and bring in some homemade flavor.

How do you take the tartness out of cranberries? ›

Anything from a drizzle of honey to agave, maple syrup, or molasses will also fare well. After a few minutes of maceration, the sour fruit juices will mix with the sugar and alleviate some of the cranberries' natural tartness.

Why do you open cranberry sauce upside down? ›

But why? Ocean Spray says this is to get the cranberry sauce out in one intact piece. “The rounded part of the can that looks like the bottom has an air bubble in it,” Ocean Spray's representative explains. The bubble is there so you can “break the seal the sauce makes with the can.”

How do you fix bland cranberry sauce? ›

Cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, citrus zest and star anise all work well with cranberries and can be added while the sauce cooks to infuse your sauce with flavor.

What if I add too much water to cranberry sauce? ›

What to do if the cranberry sauce is too thin or loose. If you inadvertently added too much water, simply bring the cranberry sauce back to the stove top and bring it to a low boil, cooking it down just a bit to help thicken it up.

Why is my homemade cranberry sauce runny? ›

Though they won't tolerate runny sauce, so it's time to fix that. The simplest reason that your cranberry sauce is too runny is that it has too much liquid in it. Usually, this is just water, but some people use orange juice or other flavored fluids. No matter what you're using, the answer is to cook it longer.

How many days does homemade cranberry sauce last? ›

Homemade cranberry sauce will last in the fridge for 10 to 14 days. Canned cranberry sauce that has been opened will last up to a week in the fridge. We hear you: After a long day of cooking, hosting, and celebrating, something's bound to get overlooked.

Why is cranberry sauce so expensive? ›

Costs are up

That includes cranberry sauce, whose price is up about 18% compared to last year because cranberry crops are smaller this year, sparking a supply squeeze.

Can you eat too much cranberry sauce? ›

Safety and Side Effects

Cranberries and cranberry products are usually safe for most people if consumed in moderation. However, excessive consumption may cause stomach upset and diarrhea — and may also increase the risk of kidney stones in predisposed individuals.

Is canned cranberry sauce better than homemade? ›

While there are some editors who prefer homemade cranberry sauce, the canned variety also has quite a following. "There's something so beautifully perfect about the texture of canned cranberry sauce, and none of those homemade mess will ever compete," says Senior Digital Food Editor Kimberly Holland.

What does eating cranberry sauce do for you? ›

The antioxidants, again, are powerful agents for a healthy and long life, potentially protecting you from developing cancer. The compounds found in cranberry sauce can help shield you from free radical damage that can foster cancer growth, the National Cancer Institute says.

Should cranberry sauce be served hot or cold? ›

Is cranberry sauce supposed to be hot or cold? Either! Some prefer to have it served fresh and warm, straight out of the pot, while others need it completely cooled down to enjoy the flavours. Personally, we prefer cooled sauce.

How do you fix bitter cranberry juice? ›

I have found that half cranberry juice and half orange juice tastes good. The orange juice cancels out most of the bitterness, and the citrus of the orange juice goes very well with the sour of the cranberry juice.

How do you sweeten bitter cranberry juice? ›

Add agave nectar to the cranberry citrus mixture to your taste. I started with 1/2 cup and ended up with 1 cup of nectar to the 9 cups of juice. You could also use 1/2 cup of white sugar or 1/2 cup of honey for this. Just taste test as you go to achieve your desired sweetness.

Why are my cranberry bitter? ›

Cranberries are generally considered safe whether they are cooked or raw. However, because of their notoriously bitter, sharp taste, most people prefer not to eat them raw or unsweetened. This bitterness is due to the high tannin content of cranberries.

What can I do with bitter cranberries? ›

That said, the best way to tackle fruits that are way too tart is to balance their sourness with sweetness. In addition to softening their abrasiveness, tossing any unbearably bitter berries with sugar can also heighten nuanced flavors.


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