Fresh Cranberry Sauce

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 cranberry sauce from our best bites

Ingredient Notes

  • 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.

Recipe Notes

  • 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

5 from 2 votes
Fresh cranberry sauce is a delightfully sweet, tart condiment that lends itself to much more than just Thanksgiving.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour


  • 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 9x13 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!
Author: Our Best Bites
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I make this every year! We love it! Can this be canned/bottled for long term storage? Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    We’ve made this recipe every Year for the past 5 years. It’s the best. My kids all think that cranberry sauce is the best part of the holiday table. In fact, right now I’m in the middle of making this recipe x20 (yes, times twenty) to can so we can easily have some all year, whenever the urge hits us. I might grab another cart full of berries and do another huge batch if I still have jars left. Can you tell we love this recipe?

  3. I’ve been making homemade cranberry sauce for well-over a decade now. I use 1 bag cranberries, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup port-wine. I cook until the cranberries pop, mash them around a little, and serve warmed. It is a staple on our table, and I have converted many cranberry sauce-haters over the years! So yummy!

  4. You didn’t specify the size of bag of cranberries. I have bought different sizes before. Is it s 12 oz. bag?

  5. I’ve been making this for a few years now and we love it! This year I cooked it in my instant pot. Reduced the liquid a smidge and cooker under high pressure for 5 minutes. Success!

  6. I’ve never been a fan of cranberry sauce, but last year I made this recipe and I loved it!!! I will be making it again this year:) Love you guys!!!

  7. I just did a small batch of canned spiced cranberries (left whole) that were essentially this recipe, plus ground nutmeg and oh my so good! Definitely trying this recipe this year!

  8. Ok, just finished a big Tennessee Thanksgiving dinner and I am totally disgusted that my relatives like AND REQUEST the canned cranberry sauce!!! I have bookmarked this for next year to try your homemade cranberry sauce. Looks delicious!

  9. Can I make this with Splenda? I have made this the past three years as the recipie calls but have a diabetic guest coming this year!

  10. I made this yesterday for tonight’s Christmas Eve dinner. I made only one batch, used a 12-oz. bag of cranberries as called out in the comments (that measurement needs to be added to the recipe itself, by the way so that people don’t have to read through all the comments to figure that out) and followed the recipe exactly. I mashed with a potato masher after baking and the texture is perfect. It set up very nicely as it chilled in the refrigerator. I know it will be perfect with our turkey tonight. Thank you for such a simple and yummy recipe.

  11. If I use fresh squeezed orange juice (no added sugar) do I need to add more than 1 cup of sugar to the dish to make up for the loss of sweetness from store bought orange juice?

  12. This will be my 3rd thanksgiving in a row making this dish (along with your sweet potato casserole) it is always a huge hit with both my family and my husband’s family. I always make a double batch but i have found that the sauce turns out best when I just cook one batch at a time. So I usually do one batch and let it cool before refrigerating and then do it all over again one more time. It is seriously so good and the best cranberry sauce I have ever made. I also usually make it the Tuesday before thanksgiving and keep in my fridge and in think the extra standing time allows it to thicken even more which I really like. Thanks Sara and Kate for all these delicious recipes!

  13. I made this last year and it was fantastic! It was gone way too fast though, so the next week I attempted to double the recipe and it wasn’t near as good. Is there a change I should make it did I just make an oopsie? I can’t wait to have more this year! <3

  14. This is very similar to the recipe I’ve fallen in love with (no water in mine and includes orange zest). I had leftover sauce last year so I froze it in 1 c. portions and used it throughout the year. It was amazing with white chocolate chips in a sweet bread, as a filling in cookies (think raisin-filled cookies but with cranberry sauce instead) – incredible!!! Just thought I’d share some more uses for the sauce in case anyone else has leftovers!

  15. I pinned this because the added cloves and cinnamon stick look really good. I always make my cranberry sauce with orange juice but have not added this. I know it will be delicious. [I add grated orange rind, too] Thank you for posting this!

  16. I made a double batch of this fantastic cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. My husband even liked it, and he has never been a fan of cranberry sauce. I did use a slightly larger glass baking dish (15×17) and it took a little over 2 hours to cook properly, but I had figured that double the liquid would take double the time to cook, so it worked out well for me. I actually made it the night before, so it was all ready for Thanksgiving Day. I absolutely LOVE the fact that other than stirring a few times, I am able to put it in the oven and not worry about it while I’m doing a million and 5 other things 🙂
    Thanks, Sara and Kate for making one more recipe so much easier… I used to make cranberry sauce on the stove, just never thought to put it in the oven 🙂 You are both Awesome!

  17. after an hour mine was still really liquidy as well. so i just transferred it to a saucepan and boiled it for about 10 mins until the liquid reduced. it does set up a lot as it cools.

  18. We just made this and also thought it was too tart. I added about 1/4c more sugar and my husband thought it was perfect. Everyone else still thought it needed more, so I added another 1/4c. I still think it’s pretty tart, but since I know how much sugar is in it already, I refuse to add more. (I like things sweet… but am trying to cut back on it.) I added the cinnamon and cloves, and it smells DELICIOUS!

  19. It’s so funny, I never realized until we had some friends over for Thanksgiving a couple of years ago that some people didn’t like cranberry sauce. As a kid, it was one of the only things at Thanksgiving that I liked… given, this is very similar to my family’s recipe.

  20. I actually have a double batch in the oven and now I have a question… How do I know if it is done baking?

    1. Just an update: I stopped baking after two hours because it was taking too long. I strained the sauce and berries, reduced the sauce from 2 1/2 cups to about 1 1/4 cup, then combined it with the berries. It is so delicious, I am tempted to take a can of sauce to my gathering and keep the fresh stuff for myself. Next time I will cook it on the stovetop a day or two in advance

      Thanks for he recipe!

  21. I used to love canned cranberry sauce until I started making your recipe a few years ago. Now I can’t stand the canned stuff! I add about a tsp. of grated fresh ginger to give it a little snap! I have to make double batches now! Thanks for a great recipe — love your blog!

  22. I also add diced apples, diced oranges and golden raisins (chopped up so raisin haters don’t know they’re there) to my sauce. It sweetens it up a lot. I also add a little bit of orange zest and then some vanilla extract at the end. I’ve also made it with fresh apple juice from the orchard instead of orange juice. YUMMY!

  23. Just made cranberry sauce this year. 2 bags of 12oz cranberries, 1 1/2 cans ginger ale, 1 1/2 c sugar, pinch of nutmeg, and and a shot of lemon juice. Turned out really well.