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Easy and simple homemade cranberry sauce, made with real whole cranberries! This holiday classic is made with only 5 ingredients! 

Spoon scooping up fresh homemade cranberry sauce topped with bits of parsley and orange zest.


All about his Homemade Cranberry Sauce

We’re big fans of fresh and tart cranberries. So when they make their appearance in the markets we always grab some for this easy to make homemade cranberry sauce and our Cranberry Orange Bread. This bread is:

  • Quick and Easy: Only a handful of ingredients are needed and this dish comes together quickly thanks to not having to boil water and sugar together first before adding other ingredients.
  • Flavor: the combination of apple cider, orange juice and brown sugar means this sauce is way more flavorful and interesting than the canned version.
  • Texture: thanks to using whole cranberries we are able to mash to create our own desired texture.

Ingredients Needed

  • Sugar: using light brown sugar gives wonderful flavor to this homemade sauce. 
  • Cranberries: this recipe starts with fresh, whole cranberries.
  • Apple Cider: gives a fun flavoring that pairs nicely with the tart cranberries.
  • Orange Juice: this adds a nice, bright flavoring that sets this cranberry sauce apart from the canned versions.

How To Make (step-by-step)

Sweet and tart homemade cranberry sauce made with orange juice and apple cider!
  1. Combine the cranberries, sugar, juices, orange wedges, and a pinch of salt into a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the berries burst. Mash against the side of the pot if needed to get a smoother texture.

Expert Tips:

  • Orange Zest: we are boiling the orange wedge with the berries for additional flavor from the leftover juice. If you are wanting to add zest to your sauce, do it after the sauce has cooked so you don’t end up with a bitter flavor to your sauce.
  • Chill Time: this recipe requires at least 2 hours to set and thicken in the refrigerator. 
  • Variations: 
    • Spice: sprinkle with cinnamon.
    • Fruits: add in chopped apple.
    • Nuts: stir in some chopped pecans after cooked and cooled.
Fresh cranberries and orange peel in a small pot to make homemade cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Sauce: FAQS

Is cranberry sauce healthy for you?

Cranberries are naturally high in vitamin C and fiber, plus they contain vitamin E and anti-oxidants. These nutrients are available when you eat homemade cranberry sauce.

How do you get the bitterness out of cranberry sauce?

Once you’ve cooked the sauce, if it doesn’t have enough sweetness and it still tastes bitter, add a bit of maple syrup or other liquid sweetener. This way the sweetener dissolves quickly into the sauce and you won’t have a grainy texture.

How do you make cranberry sauce thicker?

Cook the sauce a bit longer, to reduce it, this means the liquid will evaporate leaving a thicker sauce. If needed you can add some pectin, gelatin, or even do a cornstarch slurry to help thicken it up.

Sweet and tart homemade cranberry orange sauce.

More Side Dish Recipes to Try:

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 12 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Serene
This simple homemade cranberry sauce recipe is bursting with fresh flavor. Sweetened and infused with flavor by using apple cider and orange juice this updated classic recipe is sure to be a new family favorite!
Sweet and tart homemade cranberry sauce made with orange juice and apple cider!


  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cup apple cider
  • ¼ cup orange juice freshly squeezed
  • pinch salt
  • cup light brown sugar


  • Add the cranberries to a 3 quart saucepan. Add in the orange juice, apple cider, sugar, salt and the juiced orange wedges. Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes until berries have burst and sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Remove the orange wedges. Spoon the sauce into a bowl and allow to cool. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.


Make Ahead:
This recipe can be made up to 3 days in advance before serving. Which makes this a great recipe to make ahead for busy holiday meals. Simply prepare according to the recipe, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
Storage & Freezing:
This can be frozen for up to 3 months. Prepare according to the recipe, store in a freezer safe container. To thaw remove from freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight. It is possible after thawing that there will be some extra liquid, if needed reheat sauce on the stovetop to help it evaporate, then allow to cool again to reset. 


Serving: 1 | Calories: 86kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Sugar: 18g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!


Recipe first published October 21, 2018. Updated November 8, 2022 with new information. Recipe is unchanged. SaveSave






Welcome to my kitchen!

Welcome to the House of Yumm!! My name is Serene. I’m the food photographer, recipe developer, and official taste tester around these parts.

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Recipe Rating


    1. Hi Linda! I do leave the orange peel while the berries are simmering, just to get as much flavor as I can. I just toss in half of the orange that I used for juice. Then remove the peel before you mash the berries. I did add some orange zest to the top of the berries for the pictures, which you can absolutely do to yours too, just grate the peel a bit to get a small amount of zest and sprinkle on top 🙂