Cranberry sauce was not a staple on my childhood holiday table. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized we had really been missing out on a truly amazing condiment! This fresh version isn’t like anything you will find in a can at the grocery store. Fresh berries, orange juice, and holiday spices come together in the oven for this easy, hands off, pretty much foolproof method of achieving sweet, tart cranberry perfection.
- Fresh Cranberries – Look for fresh cranberries in the produce department of your grocery store near the holidays. Whole cranberries can be frozen, so you can buy them early, pop them in the freezer, and make this recipe whenever you want. You may be able to find already frozen cranberries in the freezer section as well.
- Orange Juice – You can use bottled or fresh squeezed orange juice here.
- Finished cranberry sauce can be frozen and stored in the freezer ahead of time if you want to get a head start on the holidays.
- This sauce is naturally thickened by the pectin in the fruit. If, after chilling, you’d prefer a thinner texture, simply thin it out to your desired consistency with a little orange juice.
Serving and Usage
This sauce is delicious on your Thanksgiving table and with pretty much everything you find there. But there are so many other ways to put it to use! It’s fantastic on sandwiches, swirled into yogurt or oatmeal, combined with cream cheese on a bagel, served over ice cream or even on top of pancakes or waffles. Anywhere you could think to use any other fruit jam, this would likely taste amazing!
Did You Make This?
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Fresh Cranberry Sauce
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Fresh cranberry sauce is a delightfully sweet, tart condiment that lends itself to much more than just Thanksgiving.
1 12-ounce bag cranberries
1 cup white sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 cup water
1 stick cinnamon (optional)
1 very small pinch ground cloves (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash cranberries and place in 9×13 baking dish. Add water, cloves, cinnamon stick, and orange juice and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 1 hour. Remove from oven, remove cinnamon stick, and allow to cool. If you like it with a little texture, mash berries; if you prefer it smooth, process in blender or food processor until desired consistency is reached. Serve with turkey, Swedish meatballs, on pulled turkey, pork, or chicken sandwiches, or on top of ice cream or cobbler.
- This can be made and refrigerated up to a week in advance or frozen for up to three months.
- Try it on sandwiches, swirled into yogurt or oatmeal, combined with cream cheese on a bagel, served over ice cream or even on top of pancakes or waffles. Anywhere you could think to use any other fruit jam, this would likely taste amazing!
I doubled this recipe and it did not turn out well. Halfway through cooking the cranberries I realized the huge amount of liquid was never going to reduce and I poured out at least 3 cups. At that point I tasted the cranberries and while they were soft and not crunchy, they were still incredibly sour. I added more sugar on top and kept baking, hoping for the best. After cooking at least an hour and 20 minutes, I took them out (we were already sitting down to eat!) and had to add even more sugar to make the whole dish edible. 🙁 Overall, the recipe is lackluster and I don’t recommend it.
Also, “1 bag cranberries” is not descriptive enough. They do come in bags of all sizes. I used 2 bags that were about 12 oz. each when I doubled the recipe. I’m sure the bags used in this recipe were probably much larger, which is why there was so much liquid I ended up pouring out.
I never had cranberry sauce until I moved to the US. I cook fresh cranberries, same as your recipe, but I also grate an orange and add a little fresh grated ginger. Sometimes, I also add a little Port to the sauce. I make a lot of it and use it as jam on muffins for breakfast.
Cranberry sauce is my favorite accessory on the thanksgiving table! I add half a pear and apple into a very similar recipe and cook it down with the cranberries. Yum!
Just a quick update…This is so easy and absolutely delicious! If you like cinnamon and cloves, be sure to add them. Yummy!!!
If I doubled this would it be way too much? I bought a bag of cranberries for this but then we were at the farmer’s market and someone was selling them fresh and I couldn’t resist…
Alyssa, depending on how many guests are invited, I would think that it would be okay to double the recipe. The recipe as is, fills a medium size serving dish. After all, it is yummy enough to eat not only with turkey dinner but also on rolls, ice cream, or whatever.
Can the cranberry sauce be made a couple of days before Thanksgiving and is it just as good? Thank you!
Stacy, I am cooking mine as I type this. If fresh cranberry sauce can be frozen, or you can use fresh or canned in a jello salad, then I would certainly think you could make it a day or two ahead of time.
I make my cranberry sauce just like this except I also add a few allspice berries and a couple of tablespoons of Cognac. Talking about over the top. Oh and I also use half brown sugar to white sugar. This is the only way my family wants them now. No more can stuff for us.
Tanya, it’s three cups. I buy the Costco cranberries, too. 🙂
I was wondering if you have a measurement of how many cups of cranberries in the “bag” of cranberries…i bought the huge bulk bag at costco and am pretty sure that’s not the size bag you’re referring to. i usually buy the cans of whole cranberries as a base and add crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges and sliced apple in cherry jello gelatin for thickness–my grandma’s recipe and it too is one of my thanksgiving fav’s. but all natural made that easy sounds a whole lot better than canned =) thanks
Always hated the cranberries. Wondered why it was necessary to take up table space for it. However, I’m putting this on the table this year and I bet I’m going to love it.
This is an excellent recipe. I’m actually using it to make a Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake for a cranberry themed dinner!
mmmmmmmmm….made this today and my husband LOVED it. He has never been a fan of cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, but he couldn't get enough of this. For me it was the perfect touch our dinner needed. I loved the cinnamon in it.
Sara, I was. Thanks. Sorry I didn't really read over what I typed, and I wrote it weird, lol.
Kara, if you're talking about the cranberry sauce, then yes. Were you referring to something else?
I was wondering, can these be made a head of time at all? Like, could I made them today (the day before Thanksgiving)? Just put them in the fridge after making them? Or will it totally not work as well?
okay, i made it. a practice, if you will. (i'm a nervous cook). i used pineapple-orange juice because i didn't realize it. but it was delicious! we've eaten it hot & cold with harvest bread (pumpkin, walnuts, cranberries, and raisins), as a topping with granola, as a topping with ice cream, on cold cut sandwiches, and my favorite: vanilla bean ice cream, granola, AND cranberry sauce. Left it really lumpy. Loved the little punch from the (inadvertent) pineapple. Thanks for another keeper!
Hmmm, I’ve never done the cranberry sauce thing either. But ::husband:: LOVES it. So this year I’m trying it. I’m curious, too, as to whether it freezes well? Just wondering if I can make it this week and then pull it out before we head up north.
I found a recipe last year somewhere online for a cranberry sauce that is very similar but you do it on the stove top instead of baking it. It is so yummy! And while you are cooking it, add a cinnamon stick to mixture and it gives it a great kick! Just remember to take out the stick when you are ready to serve it!
This looks Delicious!! I have a similiar recipe where I add pomegranites at the end…YUMMY!
I am one of the dorks who LOVES cranberry sauce! I’ll be trying this one!
You mean you don’t like how it comes with its own lines in a can?
My family has many cranberry sauce recipes, so I’ve been spoiled by the good stuff!
that looks like a nice sauce. i’m gonna show my mom this recipe. she’s in charge of the sauce every year and last year it was WAYYYY to sour (emphasis on the WAYYY). haha
every holiday, my favorite food is the sweet potato casserole. need i say more?
That looks great! I agree with you though that people don’t readily go after the cranberries because who wants to eat something that is still in the shape of the metal can it came in?
I’m going to insist that we try this this year. I recently discovered that I really liked cranberries when I noticed that they sold fresh ones this time of year. Never knew that. I just made cranberry bread last night and it’s so good. I love the tartness. Thanks for the recipe! Hopefully the family gives it a try.
My favorite addition to cranberry sauce is a pinch of cloves. A very small pinch. Too much and it’s overpowering, but a little hint of spice really jazzes it up.
I to love Cranberry Sauce. Other versions I have tried, have been too complicated. This looks wonderfully easy. Can’t it be made ahead of time? How long does it keep?
hmmmm. . . tempting. tempting.
I normally stay clear of the cranberry sauce. But this looks beautiful and easy. So I just MIGHT give it a try.
Cranberry sauce is my favorite thing on the Thanksgiving table. I load up on bags of fresh cranberries during this time of year and freeze them to use all year long. I strain my cranberry sauce to get the smooth texture.
My family makes Cranberry Sauce like this except we freeze it, plus a few more steps, it is a big hit always and adds some cold to a hot meals, plus it can be made up to a week before hand.