Ditch the canned cranberries and taste the freshness in this Cranberry Orange Sauce!  It’s so easy to make, it’s bursting with fresh flavor, and it cooks up in just 15 minutes!

Cranberry orange sauce in a ramekin with orange on top

*This recipe was originally published in December 2012.  It’s been updated to include step by step photos and more helpful information.

There are a lot of side dishes that I look forward to during the holiday season, and this Cranberry Orange Sauce is on top of the list.

I grew up eating canned cranberries, and while I liked them, they don’t hold a candle to fresh cranberries!  

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • This cranberry orange sauce is perfectly tart, sweet and bursting with the flavors of fresh orange, vanilla and the warmth of cinnamon.
  • It’s made with just a few ingredients and cooks up in just 15 minutes.
  • This is a great make ahead recipe! The sauce may be made 1-3 days in advance.
  • The options are endless for new variations of this recipe. Add chopped persimmon, apples or pears, or substitute the orange juice with apple juice or alcohol such as Grand Marnier or port wine.

Recipe ingredients

This cranberry orange sauce recipe only takes 5 ingredients, which may be customized with what you have on hand.

Cranberry orange sauce recipe ingredients

Ingredient notes

  • Cranberries. I love to stock up on fresh cranberries when they’re available in the store and freeze them. They freeze for up to one year, and may go straight from the freezer into this recipe. For more information, see my produce guide on Cranberries.
  • Orange juice. Orange juice and zest really brighten the flavors of this cranberry sauce, but you can change things up by using your favorite fruit juice or alcohol. See my Port Cranberry Sauce for inspiration.
  • Cinnamon. The cinnamon adds a warm depth of flavor, but it’s completely optional.
Homemade cranberry sauce with orange juice in a ramekin

How to make this recipe

This is one of the easiest holiday side dishes you’ll make! It only requires a few ingredients and it cooks up in 15 minutes.

How to make cranberry sauce collage 1
How to make cranberry sauce collage 2
  1. Place the sugar, water, and orange juice in a medium sauce pan and stir over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the orange zest, cranberries and ground cinnamon and stir to combine. Cook about 2-3 minutes until the cranberries begin to pop. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer about 5 minutes longer, until the berries have all popped.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Let stand at room temperature until completely cool (the sauce will thicken as it cools). Cover with plastic wrap or store in an air tight container and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

FAQs

What can you add to cranberry sauce?

Add some variety to your cranberry sauce by substituting your favorite fruit juice or alcohol instead of some or all of the water. Chopped fruit such as apple, pear and persimmon are great additions, as well as flavorings like vanilla extract, freshly grated ginger and warm spices such as cinnamon and cardamom.

What spices go well with cranberries?

Warm spices such as ground cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice and star anise pair well with cranberries.

Do you serve cranberry sauce hot or cold?

Cranberry sauce thickens as it cools, so it’s best when it’s been refrigerated for several hours and served cold.

Will cranberries thicken as they cool?

Homemade cranberry sauce thickens as it cools, so it’s best to make it the day before you plan to use it.

How long does homemade cranberry sauce last?

Cranberry orange sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Recipe notes

  • The cranberry sauce may be made in advance and will keep for up to 2 weeks in an air tight container in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Place the fresh cranberries in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. Rinse, pick through them, and thaw slightly before cooking.
Spoonful of cranberry orange sauce over a ramekin

More Thanksgiving recipes you’ll love:

If you make this recipe I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or rating below and tag me @flavorthemoments on Instagram!

Cranberry orange sauce in a ramekin with orange on top

Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce

Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce is an easy homemade cranberry sauce that's tart, sweet and bursting with fresh orange flavor. It's made with just a few ingredients and cooks up in just 15 minutes!
1
reviews

Leave a Review »

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries rinsed and picked through
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Place the sugar, water, and juice in a medium sauce pan and stir over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the orange zest, cranberries and ground cinnamon and stir to combine. Cook about 2-3 minutes until the cranberries begin to pop. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer about 5 minutes longer, until the berries have all popped.
    How to make cranberry sauce collage 1
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Let stand at room temperature until completely cool (the sauce will thicken as it cools). Cover with plastic wrap or store in an air tight container and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
    How to make cranberry sauce collage 2

Notes

  • The cranberry sauce may be made in advance and will keep for up to 2 weeks in an air tight container in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Frozen cranberries may be used in this recipe.  Simply rinse, pick through them, and they’re ready to use.
  • Substitute the orange juice with your favorite fruit juice or alcohol such as wine, port or Grand Marnier to change things up!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g, Calories: 101kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 2mg, Potassium: 54mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 22g, Vitamin A: 45IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 4mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Tried this recipe?Mention @flavorthemoments or tag #flavorthemoments!

Sharing is caring!