Make Ahead

Cranberry Sauce

October 12, 2022
4 Ratings
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • makes 2 1/2 cups
Author Notes

Tangy, bright, and citrusy, homemade cranberry sauce is a surefire way to make your kitchen smell oh-so-cozy. The best part is that it only takes a handful of ingredients (and less than 30 minutes) to come together. Whether it's for the holidays or you just have a craving for delicious cranberry sauce, this recipe will soon become your go-to.

If you are not able to find fresh cranberries, frozen ones work just as well; just keep in mind that you will have to cook them slightly longer (about five more minutes). Adding salt—more than you might think—helps to bring everything together. Cranberry sauce often tends to be on the sweet side, but this recipe adds a savory touch. One of the best parts is that there's no thickening agent necessary: As they cook, the cranberries burst open, releasing tiny seeds that add just the right amount of jammy texture. The clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg provide warmth, ideal for the autumn and holiday season. But if you don't like these spices, feel free to leave them out, or add a sprinkle of floral ground cardamom or licorice-esque whole star anise (just be sure to remove once the sauce is cooled).

This simple cranberry sauce is simply the perfect side for your Thanksgiving meal. I suggest making a double batch, for leftover-turkey sandwiches the next day. It’s also wonderful swirled into oatmeal or breakfast grain bowls. Either way, this is a simple recipe that comes in handy at the holidays and all fall long. —Rachel Gurjar

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound cranberries (fresh or frozen, see Author Notes)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from about 1 orange)
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (from about 2 oranges)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, mashing the cranberries with the back of a fork occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the cranberries are translucent, soft, and broken into half. The texture should resemble a loose jam. If you want a chunkier sauce, continue to cook for about 5 minutes to keep reducing the liquid until the desired consistency is achieved. Let cool for about 15 minutes, then remove the cinnamon stick before serving.
  2. Do Ahead: The cranberry sauce can be made 5 days ahead. Transfer to an airtight container or jar and store in the refrigerator.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Hugh520
  • Rachel Dolfi
    Rachel Dolfi
  • BarnOwlBaker
  • Peter
Rachel Gurjar

Recipe by: Rachel Gurjar

Rachel is an immigrant from Mumbai, India now based out of Brooklyn, New York. She is a chef, photographer and food editor who loves to cook and develop delicious recipes from her culture and beyond. In her free time, you will find her exploring street food around the city!

8 Reviews

dede November 22, 2022
Unfortunately the year I go simple, rather than make my usual cranberry chutney recipe, the recipe is marred by too much salt. Do not put in 1 teaspoon of salt! Maybe just 1/2 tsp - or maybe none at all?!?!
BarnOwlBaker November 21, 2023
Definitely no salt needed……ugh.
Hugh520 November 18, 2022
What happened to Laura Dembowski's maple syrup, and tart cherries? I'm confused.
Peter November 20, 2022
Weird. I loved that old recipe and had it saved here on Food52 in my Thanksgiving folder. I went to that RE Joe and it took me here. Thank goodness you named the recipe author –I googled and found it:

Maybe someone from Food52 can explain what happened?
Hugh520 November 20, 2022
Thanks for the link Peter. I didn't think a search would find the old recipe. Laura still has a page of F52 still, so her missing recipe is a mystery/ I'm going to do a mod with this one and add OJ instead of water though, and I've got my tart cherries and maple syrup too. Cheers, Hugh
BarnOwlBaker November 21, 2023
Agree with all of the comments on Laura Dembowski’s wonderful recipe! Here it is with my additions of OJ, Brandy, and cinnamon stick! All optional of course. This recipe is the WINNER:

Serves 6-8
1 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1 orange, zested
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (+ 1 cinnamon stick for the pot - optional)
3/4 cup water (I use orange juice + 1/4 brandy + enough water to make 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together cranberries, cherries, orange zest, cinnamon, water, sugar, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil while stirring frequently. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened and most of the berries have burst, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled. Sauce may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
food52fan November 24, 2020
I just made a double batch of this cranberry sauce and it smells and tastes heavenly! The scent of cloves is wonderful and the recipe has a nice mix of spices. I added a little cinnamon instead of the cinnamon stick, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly. This will be a bright, flavorful addition to our Thanksgiving feast!
Rachel D. October 14, 2020
This looks so perfect for Thanksgiving! I can't wait to make it.