The easiest whole Cranberry Sauce ever. Sweet and tangy, this Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe is ready in minutes and can be made up to a week in advance. Perfect for your holiday table and even better with Thanksgiving leftovers.

Cranberry Sauce in a compote bowl with a blue and white spoon on a distressed white wood background.

Cranberry Sauce

For many years, the only cranberry sauce I knew of was the kind shaped like a can. I LOVED it! It was like eating jelly out of a jar with a spoon. I didn’t like it ON anything, I never was that person who mixed all their food together and covered every square centimeter of their plate with gravy. No way. 

I was the kid with the divided plate….until I was 30. (Actually, I still would prefer a divided plate.) I didn’t like my food to touch. I would even shoe it away with my fork if anything looked like it was about to merge with another food. 

For that reason, I never really knew the joy of the “After-Thanksgiving Sandwich” the way I do now. And it all started with the canned cranberry sauce…because I knew no other. I was brave one day (or intoxicated) and mixed some of the cranberry sauce with some mayonnaise….next think I knew I was grilling my turkey sandwich with the cranberry mayo, stuffing and gravy. It was crazy! And ridiculously amazing! I lived on the edge back then…can you tell?

Cranberry sauce in a glass dessert bowl with a blue and white spoon.

What is Cranberry Sauce?

Cranberry Sauce, or Cranberry Jam, is a sauce made of fresh cranberries commonly found in North America. Cranberry Sauce is used as a condiment during the winter months and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This recipe is very much like making a jam on the stovetop like my easy Blueberry Jam or this Strawberry Jam. It’s also know as Cranberry Compote in some areas of the country.

I, originally, saw a talk show years ago where they made homemade Cranberry Sauce in about 5 minutes and I was totally into it. I knew this was the cranberry sauce recipe of my future.

Cranberry sauce on a blue plate with turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans

How To Make Cranberry Sauce

Making fresh cranberry sauce from scratch is super easy to do. Basically, all your doing is stewing the cranberries, fruit and sugar until everything breaks down into a sticky, thick sauce.

The recipe on the talk show used orange juice, sugar and cranberries. It was pretty good but over the years as I learned what the heck I was doing in the kitchen I tweaked it and revamped it and finally settled on this version of Easy Whole Cranberry Sauce recipe. This is an adaptation of Ina Garten’s Cranberry Compote. 

What I loved about this version is the fresh citrus juice and the chunky apples, it gives it more depth of flavor than just a cranberry sauce with orange juice only. The natural pectin in the apple helps it gel up like a quick jam recipe. Ina, also, adds raisins and nuts but I leave them out. It didn’t translate well into my “day after” sandwich and, honestly, everyone who has tried both versions found them totally unnecessary.

  1. Simply stir all the ingredients together in a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer your cranberry sauce until it starts to bubble and the cranberries begin to pop.
  3. Keep cooking until the mixture is thick and sticky.
  4. The cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

You should serve your cranberry sauce chilled as it has a thicker consistency when it’s cold. It makes an amazing glaze for ham when warm or as a syrup for your Sunday pancakes.

Cranberry sauce in a glass dessert bowl on a placemat made with twigs.

Ingredients For Homemade Cranberry Sauce

For this cranberry sauce recipe you will need the following ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries (12 ounces of cranberries is approximately 3 cups of cranberries.)
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon

How To Freeze Cranberry Sauce

If you’re more than a week out from when you want to serve your Homemade Cranberry Sauce, you’ll be happy to hear that this cranberry sauce can be frozen easily. Simply transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. 

Thaw your fresh cranberry sauce at room temperature and serve.

What To Serve With Cranberry Sauce

We love to serve this Homemade Cranberry Sauce alongside my favorite Thanksgiving Turkey recipe or this easy to make Crock Pot Ham. It’s also great with these easy Swedish Meatballs since they’re similar in flavor to lingonberries that you get at IKEA!

Roast Turkey for the holiday on a white platter with herbs and cranberries.

So, this is it…this is my Easy Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce recipe. It takes no time at all and you can make it several days in advance. Just remember to bring it out when you’re serving dinner because I’m going on three years in a row forgetting about it until my guests are finished eating.

More Easy Cranberry Recipes

But if you do forget and you find yourself with a big stash of it after the holiday you can whip up these Cranberry Cream Cheese Streusel Bars or these amazing Jalapeño Poppers!

If you want a no cook option, this easy Cranberry Relish is ready with just a few pulses of the food processor!

Looking for even more easy holiday recipes? Follow us over on Instagram!

Cranberry sauce in a glass dessert bowl with a blue and white spoon.

Get the Recipe: Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Homemade Cranberry Sauce made with the simplest ingredients. A must for the holidays.
5 from 3 votes


  • 1 12- ounce bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice


  • 1 saucepan


  • In a large saucepan, cook the cranberries, sugar and 1 cup of water over low heat until the skins begin to pop open, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in the apples, zest, and juices and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.


YouTube video
Serving: 0g, Calories: 142kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 0g, Fat: 0g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 74mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 33g, Vitamin A: 50IU, Vitamin C: 15.3mg, Calcium: 10mg, Iron: 0.1mg