Homemade cranberry sauce is so easy and quick to put together. Make it ahead and cross it off your prep list for Thanksgiving!
There’s something nostalgic for many of us about the jellied cranberry sauce from a can.
However, like so many other things with cooking, it’s much better to make it yourself. For this fresh cranberry sauce, you can tweak the sweetness, for starters.
If you’ve never made your own, don’t worry – it’s simple. This one has all of the flavors of the holiday season.
How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Scratch cooking is what the holidays are all about, right? But it doesn’t have to be stressful, and this totally isn’t.
Here’s what you need:
- Cranberries, fresh or frozen (just defrost before cooking)
- Orange zest and juice
- Ginger paste
How to Make Ginger Paste
Think of this like a ginger concentrate you can make, keep in the fridge, and then use when needed.
It’s simply fresh ginger root blended with a little bit of oil to form a paste. You can buy it, or make it yourself. Don’t want to bother? You can substitute ground ginger.
A good rule of thumb: Use 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger for every tablespoon of fresh, as called for in a recipe.
For this cranberry sauce recipe, you’ll combine of all the ingredients in a pan and simmer them for a short period of time right on the stovetop.
As the sauce starts to cook, you’ll hear a popping noise coming from the pan. This noise is the berries bursting open.
The best part? You can make this 3 days ahead of serving. Just cover it and store it in the fridge.
Substitutions in Fresh Cranberry Sauce
So many flavors go well with cranberries and a lot of them are in this recipe. It’s easy to adjust to your preferences, though.
- Change the amount of spices
- Add more orange zest
- Use apple cider instead of orange juice
- Add chopped apple
- Skip the ginger paste
- Use brown sugar instead of granulated, or split the difference and use half of both
What to do with leftovers
Homemade cranberry sauce isn’t just for turkey. Have you ever topped vanilla ice cream with it, or swirled it into plain Greek yogurt? You don’t know what you’re missing!
The creaminess is a great contrast to the sweet, sour and slightly spicy fruity topping. It’s just another reason to make it all year round.
Tips for Freezing Cranberries and Cranberry Sauce
- Buy extra bags of cranberries and freeze them. This way you’ve always got some on hand.
- Defrost frozen cranberries before making the sauce.
- You can freeze this in a freezer-safe container for up to two months.
- Defrost in the fridge, or reheat on the stovetop. It might be a little watery, but it’ll still be good.
Watch how to make the cranberry sauce recipe below!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- 12 oz cranberries (See Note 1)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 orange juice and zest
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp ginger paste
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Zest the orange for 1 tablespoon of orange zest. Slice and juice the orange for 1/2 cup total, use remaining for other use.
- In a saucepan over medium heat combine the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, water, ginger paste, salt, cinnamon stick and orange zest.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 8-10 minutes, or until most of the cranberries have popped for a more textured sauce. Cook longer until all have popped for a smoother sauce.
- Allow to cool 30 minutes before covering and refrigerate until ready to use (See Note 2).
- I keep bags of cranberries frozen to use throughout the year. Just allow to thaw prior to using in the recipe.
- This is fantastic to top ice cream, Greek yogurt with granola or cottage cheese and nuts for breakfast, too.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.