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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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