Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

5 from 7 votes

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Whole berry cranberry sauce is a classic side dish. Make this recipe for fresh cranberry sauce with orange juice for your Thanksgiving dinner and other holiday meals!

close up: bowl of whole berry cranberry sauce


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.

This recipe is popular for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s a whole berry cranberry sauce. If you like texture in your sauce, it’s perfect as is. If you prefer a smooth sauce, simply allow all of the berries to pop open.

Another important factor for many of us is having a lower sugar option. Because it’s a cranberry sauce with orange juice, you can use less sugar.

If you’ve never made your own, don’t worry – it’s simple. This one has all of the flavors of the holiday season.

Whole berry 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.
With only 5 ingredients, this recipe is economical, quick, and easy to make.

  • Cranberries, fresh or frozen

A 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries equals approximately 3-4 cups. If using frozen berries, it isn’t necessary to thaw them, but rinse with water before using.

  • Sugar

To cut down on the processed sugar, any cup-for-cup granulated artificial sweetener may be used. Good low glycemic options are monk fruit sugar and erythritol. You could even use a tablespoon of maple syrup instead.

  • Orange juice and zest

Keep in mind that to cut back on the processed sugar, you want REAL orange juice, and freshly squeezed is best. If you need to use bottled orange juice, check the ingredient label to be sure there are no added sugars.

  • Fresh ginger or ginger paste

Fresh ginger adds SO much flavor to whole berry cranberry sauce! If you’ve never used fresh ginger root, you’ll find it in the produce section of your local grocery store.

If you can’t find fresh ginger root, you can use ginger paste. 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.

PRO TIP
One tablespoon of grated ginger root is approximately a 1-inch piece of fresh root. or 1 tsp of ginger paste. Use 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger for every tablespoon of fresh called for in a recipe.

bowl of whole fresh cranberries

Recipe video

Making whole berry cranberry sauce is simple! Just combine of all the ingredients in a pan and simmer them for a short period of time right on the stovetop.

To see exactly how to make this recipe, watch the video located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!

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? This is a make ahead cranberry sauce!
Prepare it up to 3 days ahead of serving, then let it cool, cover it, and store it in the fridge.

overhead: cranberries cooking with sugar and orange juice

Variations of Whole Berry 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
  • I love cranberry sauce with orange juice, but unsweetened apple cider is fantastic too!
  • Add chopped apples, pears, or dried cherries
  • Use brown sugar instead of granulated, or split the difference and use half of both

If you prefer jellied cranberry sauce, make my cherry cranberry relish with Jello. Either of these recipes will be delicious at Thanksgiving, especially if you follow my recipe for roasting and carving a turkey!

Uses for leftover cranberry sauce

This delicious condiment isn’t just for serving with turkey. Have you ever served it over vanilla ice cream or swirled it into plain Greek yogurt? You don’t know what you’re missing!

You can even use it to make cranberry pecan stuffed waffles for a fantastic holiday brunch! 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.

Thanksgiving side dish with fresh red berries

Tips for freezing cranberries and cranberry sauce

  • Buy extra bags of cranberries and freeze them. This way you’ve always got some on hand. Or, lay them flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet until frozen, then transfer to a zip top freezer bag. Frozen berries will keep for about a year in the freezer.
  • You can freeze prepared sauce in a freezer-safe container for up to two months.

    PRO TIP: To save freezer space, flatten the bag and squeeze out excess air before freezing!
  • Defrost in the fridge, or reheat on the stovetop. It might be a little watery, but it’ll still be good.
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This post, originally published on Kevin is Cooking Oct. 23, 2020, was last updated with new content on Oct. 28, 2021.

close up: bowl of whole berry cranberry sauce

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce + Video

5 from 7 votes
Whole berry cranberry sauce is a classic side dish. Make this recipe for fresh cranberry sauce with orange juice for your Thanksgiving meal.
Servings: 8
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 12 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups cranberries fresh or frozen (See Note 1)
  • 1 cup sugar See Note 2 for substitutions
  • 1 orange juice and zest
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger root See Note 3 for substitutions
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Instructions 

  • 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 minutes, or until most of the cranberries have popped. For a smoother sauce, cook longer until all have popped.
  • Transfer contents to heat proof container and allow to cool 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Video

Notes

  1. A 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries equals approximately 3-4 cups. If using frozen berries, it isn’t necessary to thaw them, but rinse with water before using.
  2. Any cup-for-cup granulated artificial sweetener may be used. Good low glycemic options are monk fruit sugar and erythritol. 
  3. One tablespoon of grated ginger root is approximately a 1-inch piece of fresh root. or 1 tsp of ginger paste.

Nutrition

Calories: 126kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 38mg | Potassium: 72mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 64IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg

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.

Course: side dishes
Cuisine: American
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image of fresh whole cranberries with grated orange peel and sugar

Kevin

Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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17 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I LOVE homemade cranberry sauce and this looks delicious. Can you make it with Swerve or some other sugar substitute?

    1. I have not tried it using Swerve or any other sugar substitute yet Claudia. If you do, please let me know the result.

  2. 5 stars
    My friend and I made this recipe using crystalized ginger and we added grand Marnier. We both like cranberry sauce a bit tangy so decreased the sugar amount. We also increased the amount we made a ran it through the canning process so that we have it to use as Christmas gifts and so we have it throughout the year. I must say it is delicious.

  3. Looks amazing! Curious about where to buy ginger paste though? Is it something you can find at a regular grocery store or do I need to go to whole foods? Edit…oops! Just saw where you wrote about that in your recipe. I’m making this today! Can’t wait to try!

  4. Your recipe sounds great. I make homemade cranberry sauce, can it and give some to friends. So much better than commercially prepared cranberry sauce! I look forward to trying your recipe. Thanks!