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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Your Thanksgiving meal would not be complete without this delicious, super easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce! This chunky cranberry sauce is made from scratch with fresh cranberries, uses only 4 ingredients, and is very straightforward to make!

A bowl of cranberry sauce with a spoon in it

Preparing your Thanksgiving feast? We got you covered! Check out Herb Butter Turkey Breast, Apple Stuffing, Gravy From Scratch, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Honey Butter Rolls, Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans, and Pumpkin Pie to round up your menu!

Easy 4-ingredient Homemade Cranberry Sauce

If you’ve only had the canned ones, you need to at least try making cranberry sauce from scratch at least once!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce is fresh, flavor-bursting, filled with chunks of fresh cranberries…and you can control the amount of sweetness!

When they say there is nothing like homemade, cranberry sauce definitely falls into that category.

With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday around the corner, it’s time to showcase my delicious, tried and true, stupid easy cranberry sauce from scratch recipe.

This recipe is so simple everyone needs to try it at least once because you won’t believe how easy it is to make your own cranberry sauce!

top down view of a bowl of cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries scattered all over the side

Cranberry Sauce From Scratch

Confession: I did not like cranberry sauce for the longest time…

I did not like cranberry sauce…until I had homemade cranberry sauce.

I’ve always been obsessed with gravy, but I never quite get the need for cranberry sauce to go with my turkey and stuffing and all that good stuff.

That is until I had homemade cranberry sauce and realize it makes such a difference!

So now, along with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and gravy, cranberry sauce has become another essential item on the Thanksgiving menu.

Cranberry Sauce Ingredients

This homemade cranberry sauce recipe only calls for four ingredients and is so easy to make!

  • Fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Sugar
  • Orange Zest
  • Water
A bowl of cranberry sauce

The only other thing you need is a pot and you are all set!

How to make cranberry sauce

To start making Homemade Cranberry Sauce, bring all the ingredients to a boil in a pot, and then lower heat and simmer until cranberry sauce thickens to desired consistency.

Make sure to stir every few minutes so that the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn.

Cranberry sauce should thicken and once it reaches desired thickness, remove from heat and pot, and let it cool.

Only refrigerate once Homemade Cranberry Sauce has been cooled to room temperature.

Cooking cranberries in a pot
Making cranberry sauce from scratch

It is that simple!

The product is a sweet, tart, and full flavor cranberry sauce with chunky juicy semi in-tact cranberries.

It’s so good I may or may not have eaten my Homemade Cranberry Sauce by the spoonfuls while waiting for it to cool.

Variations and substitutions

If you want to switch up the flavors of your cranberry sauce, consider adding or replacing with some of these ingredients:

  • lemon zest / lemon juice
  • cinnamon bark
  • vanilla extract
  • other fruits: apples, cherries, blueberries, grapes etc
  • a splash of brandy or bourbon (make sure to cook down the alcohol)

Play around with it and make this homemade cranberry sauce recipe your very own!

A bowl of cranberry sauce with orange slices on top

Make Ahead and Storage

When Thanksgiving rolls around, Cranberry Sauce is the one thing I make days ahead of time.

It keeps well, tastes the same even after days, and doesn’t even require any heating up.

All that makes it the perfect candidate on the Thanksgiving menu to make days ahead and not have to worry about it on the day of that busy day.

Store Homemade Cranberry Sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It can be served cold or in room temperature.

Tips and Tricks

A few important things to note when making Homemade Cranberry Sauce from scratch:

  • Stir every few minutes while cranberry sauce is cooking so the bottom of the pot will not burn
  • Once it reaches desired consistency, remove Cranberry Sauce from heat and pour into a separate container to cool. Do not leave it in the pot to cool because it will continue to thicken.
  • Make sure to thing cranberry sauce to cool completely before refrigerating it.
A plate of turkey and mashed potatoes with cranberry sauce

Other Ways to Use Cranberry Sauce

Is cranberry sauce just for your Thanksgiving dinner?

Err no way!

In my humble opinion, it’s so good it should be eaten year round!

Here are some other ways I use cranberry sauce. These are also great ways to use up leftover cranberry sauce that you may have after Thanksgiving.

  • on cheese platters – check out my Cranberry Baked Brie recipe.
  • serve with chicken, pork or other meats – this Cranberry Meatballs calls for cranberry sauce!
  • as jelly on toast, croissants or biscuits
  • as an ice cream topping
  • pancake and waffle topping
  • grab a spoon and eat it on its own!

DID YOU ENJOY THIS RECIPE? Please comment below and give us a 5-star rating! This will help others find this recipe on Google and Pinterest. We very much appreciate your help! 🤍

Other Holiday Recipes

More holiday recipes that I think you will love (some more traditional than others):

A jar of cranberry sauce with orange slices on top

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Sweet, tart and chunky homemade cranberry sauce from scratch that is easy to make and perfect for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays!
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 67kcal
Author: MinShien


  • 2 cups fresh cranberries or frozen
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-2 tsp orange zest


  • Bring all ingredient into a medium pot and bring to boil.
  • Once it boils, turn down heat to medium low. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring continuously.
  • Once sauce thickens to desired consistency, remove from heat.
  • Let it cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.


This post was originally published on November 2020 and updated with new photographs on Oct 2021.


Calories: 67kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.002g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.004g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 17mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 13IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Made this last year and we were OBSESSED. Totally making it again this year! Bestest and easiest cranberry sauce EVER!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      SO GLAD! Enjoy!