It seems like cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes are kind of the ugly stepsisters of the Thanksgiving table–they’re presence seems to be guilt-induced, there’s plenty left over, and those leftovers often find themselves cold and lonely in the refrigerator as the rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, and turkey get eaten in the days after Thanksgiving. Well, no more.

fresh cranberry sauce from our best bites

Not only do we hope that this recipe will help you like cranberry sauce more, but also see that you can use it in lots of different ways, not just for an obligatory taste with your turkey.

Can we get one thing clear? Cranberries don’t belong in gel form. If you LOVE slices of jellied cranberry, then more power to you, but if that’s all you’ve ever had and you don’t like cranberry sauce, then this year is the year to expand your horizons! This sauce is thinner than any commercial cranberry sauce, which I think makes it perfect for dipping without feeling overwhelmed by the sometimes-bitter cranberry flavor. It’s also awesome on sandwiches year-round (if you can track fresh cranberries down year-round!)

One of the things I love is that you can pop it in the oven. You could certainly do it on the stovetop, but then you have to babysit it. I don’t know about y’all (see how well I’m adjusting to life in the South?), but paying attention to sticky substances bubbling on the stove on Thanksgiving is not something that generally works for me. This can be easily made up to a week in advance, letting you focus on turkeys and rolls and pies. Easy.

fresh cranberry sauce from our best bites

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Fresh Cranberry Sauce


Take cranberry sauce to a new level – perfect on sandwiches all year long, too!


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.


  1. 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!

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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