Once you realize how easy and delicious Homemade Cranberry Sauce is, you’ll never go back to the canned, store-bought kind! You only need 4 ingredients to make this easy cranberry sauce, but it’s also very versatile and adaptable, so you can make it your own!
You could almost be forgiven if you forget the cranberry sauce, but Thanksgiving and cranberry sauce are just right for each other! I adore cranberry sauce, and the lovely sweet and tart flavor and the bright red color of cranberry sauce add a positively festive feel to any Thanksgiving spread! Plus, perfect homemade cranberry sauce is ridiculously easy and quick to make.
I’ve never really been a sweet sauce and roast meat kind of gal, and I always tend to gravitate towards the gravy. I’m not sure why, because I love the sweet and spicy combo otherwise. But for Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce, I make an exception!
This delicious homemade cranberry sauce is really versatile and adaptable, comes together quickly, and infinitely better than the store-bought canned sauce. You can add more flavors, switch up ingredients, and make it your own!
I like my cranberry sauce a little on the chunky side, rather than a puree. Most recipes call for cooking about 3/4th of the cranberries with the sugar, then adding the rest when the sauce is almost done. I don’t like to do this, because I prefer soft whole cranberries in the sauce. If I add the remaining cranberries only at the end, it won’t cook them long enough to soften.
So what I do instead is, I make a nice sugar syrup first, with flavors infused into the syrup, and THEN I add all the cranberries in at once. This cooks all the cranberries until they are soft, but still chunky. Either way, this homemade cranberry sauce is hard to mess up.
I made the sauce with orange and chili flakes/crushed red pepper. This adds another layer of flavor, and I especially love how you get a hint of heat and spice right on the heels of the tart sweetness of cranberries. You can leave out the chili flakes if you like it milder though.
Here are some other ways to make this easy sauce your own!
- If you don’t have orange juice, you can simply replace it with water.
- OR, you could also add pomegranate juice instead, which complements the cranberry flavor really well.
- You could also replace the orange juice/water with red wine for a more adult-friendly version of this homemade cranberry sauce.
Spices than you can add to this easy cranberry sauce
- Instead of / OR in addition to the orange zest, you can add about 1 tsp of grated ginger for a nice spicy, warming kick!
- You could add some chopped red onion along with the cranberries for a more savory flavor profile.
- If you like your cranberry sauce not too sweet, you can easily adjust the amount of sugar that you add. But I would recommend adding at least 1/2 cup (100 g) of sugar, along with 3/4 cup of liquid.
- You can halve the amount of water, and substitute the sugar with honey for a healthier, refined sugar free homemade cranberry sauce.
When you’re cooking this homemade cranberry sauce, take care not to overcook the sauce, because then too much water evaporates and the sauce will become hard as it cools down. You obviously want a delicious sauce-like consistency, so it’s important that the sauce maintains its consistency as it cools down. However, if this does happen to you, it’s easy to fix it too. Simply, reheat the sauce with some extra water, until you get the desired consistency.
I guarantee once you’ve made this simple, versatile and adaptable homemade cranberry sauce, you’ll never go back to the canned store-bought kind! 🙂 I love using leftovers to make PBJ sandwiches the following day, and the sauce is also perfect for these cranberry and turkey filo rolls to use up Thanksgiving leftovers.
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Tools I used for this recipe (affiliate links)
Zester – I love using this to get the zest from all my citrus fruits. Perfect to get the zest from the oranges for this recipe.
A heat proof mixing spoon – to stir the sauce while it’s hot!
Easy Cranberry Sauce
An easy, versatile and adaptable homemade cranberry sauce made with just 4 ingredients.
- 1 cup sugar, or honey (SEE RECIPE NOTES) white sugar or brown sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup fresh orange juice
- Generous pinch of salt
- Orange zest of ½ an orange
- 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
Place the sugar, water and orange juice in a saucepan. Heat over medium high heat and bring to a boil, while stirring frequently. Lower the heat to medium and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
While the syrup is simmering, add the orange zest, cranberries and salt. Stir it all in, and cook for 10 minutes while stirring frequently, to prevent the cranberries from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
After 10 minutes (or when the cranberries are cooked to your desired consistency), remove from the heat and let it cool down. Serve.
- If you don't like orange in your cranberry sauce, simply replace it with water.
- Or you can substitute the orange juice with pomegranate juice.
- Replace the orange juice or water with red wine for a more adult-friendly version of this homemade cranberry sauce.
- Add 1 tsp of grated ginger for a warming, spicy kick!
- Add about 1/4 cup of some chopped red onion along with the cranberries for a more savory flavor profile.
- You can easily adjust the amount of sugar that you add. But I would recommend adding at least 1/2 cup (100 g) of sugar, along with 3/4 cup of liquid.
- For a REFINED SUGAR FREE VERSION - substitute the sugar with honey for a healthier homemade cranberry sauce, but also remember to reduce the water to a 1/4 cup.
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