15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange

This year skip the canned cranberry sauce and make homemade instead. This homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange bursts with fresh cranberries, orange juice, and orange zest and goes perfectly with a roast turkey. It only requires 4 ingredients (plus water) and is the easiest recipe. Be sure to double the recipe and make it ahead of time for the busy holiday season.

The holidays are right around the corner, and along with them come the sides. This includes the famous green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, candied sweet potatoes, turkey, chicken and dressing, and cranberry sauce.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with fresh cranberries and cooked cranberries. Text overlay.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce is most definitely the sauce that is a testament to the flavors of the season and the traditions of a holiday meal. Whether you enjoy it at the Thanksgiving table or for a weeknight meal, this easy cranberry sauce recipe is a culinary delight filled with fresh cranberries and the zest of oranges. This classic favorite offers the perfect balance of tart cranberries and fresh oranges. Be sure to include this dish on your holiday table as you capture the essence of family, togetherness, and celebration.

Why Do We Eat Cranberry Sauce at Thanksgiving? 

Cranberry sauce always shows up on the table around the holidays. Anytime there is dressing or turkey, you will find cranberry sauce. In my house, you can’t have dressing unless there is cranberry sauce to go with it. I’m not sure who made that rule, but it’s a rule. Cranberry sauce has always been a part of our holiday tradition and is an expected side dish. I made a double batch last year, and it all disappeared.

Cranberry sauce has been a staple of many meals, especially Thanksgiving in the United States. Cranberries are harvested in the fall, which aligns perfectly with Thanksgiving and Christmas. The tartness of the cranberries compliments roasted turkey and other dishes commonly found on the holiday table. Cranberries add lots of flavor and balance to the meal. Historians agree that cranberries were part of the first Thanksgiving feast, but they are unsure how they were served.

Why Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange is Fabulous

Making homemade cranberry sauce with orange is easier than you might believe. It can be made in minutes and ahead of time, which leaves you time to focus on more dishes to serve.

I am guilty of buying the canned stuff. It’s good, and it’s so convenient. Plus, it’s decorated so nicely with those little rings around the top. You just refrigerate, open the can, and dump it into a serving bowl. Done!

But, I’ve also found that making Homemade Cranberry Sauce only takes 15 minutes to make, and I now make it fresh. Of course, you will need to add a little time to chill and set up, but this is so much better. Trust me!

Fresh: With cranberries being in season, you can enjoy the freshness of the fruit. Fresh Cranberry Sauce is super easy to make and only requires simple ingredients. This version is flavored with fresh orange juice and a little zest which makes this absolutely delicious.

Flavorful: Making homemade cranberry sauce allows you to adjust the flavors, making it a little sweeter or more tart.

Traditional: Serving cranberry sauce allows you to celebrate holiday traditions and take pride in making it from scratch.

15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce in a jar with text overlay.
15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients Needed for 15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce

See the printable recipe card below for a complete list of amounts and ingredients.

Making this cranberry orange sauce recipe is straightforward. All of the ingredients can be found in your local grocery stores. The cranberries are in season for a short time during the holidays but frozen will also work. 

Sugar – White sugar is needed for sweetness. Feel free to play around with the amount of sugar in this recipe. Find the balance that works for your taste. One cup sugar has enough sweetness for this recipe.

Water – A little ( 1/2 cup water) to get things simmering.

Orange Juice (juice from 2 oranges) – Orange juice adds freshness, sweetness and brightens the dish. You will only need 1/2 cup orange juice.

Orange Zest – Make sure you only zest the orange peel and not the bitter white pith underneath. Just a little zest will add a pop of flavor.

Fresh or Frozen Cranberries – You will find fresh cranberries in the produce department. Go ahead and grab a few extra bags and store them in the freezer to make this sauce year-round.

Ingredients needed for Homemade Cranberry Sauce with text overlay.

Learn How to Cook A Turkey In A Bag for the Best Thanksgiving Turkey. A moist and tender holiday turkey is the star of the show, so it should be delicious. 

How to Make Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Once you taste fresh cranberry sauce, this will be the only one you’ll want to serve during the holiday season. This is an easy recipe and my favorite way to make homemade cranberry sauce.

  1. Wash cranberries and pick out bad or bruised ones.
  2. Bring water, orange juice, orange zest, and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan.
  3. Add cranberries and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until cranberries have burst—Mash gently with a wooden spoon.
  4. Remove from the heat and cool completely to room temperature.
  5. You can transfer the sauce to an airtight bowl or a covered serving dish and place it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce with text overlay
15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Other Dishes to Serve with Leftover Orange Cranberry Sauce

Experiment and get creative with leftover cranberry sauce. There are so many dishes you can serve with, and it will add a burst of flavor, color, and goodness to your meal.

Sandwiches or Wraps: Cranberry sauce goes well with thick slices of turkey and fresh bread. You are missing out if you’ve never tried it on leftover turkey sandwiches.

A Spread for Breakfast: Add a spoonful or two to Greek yogurt, oatmeal, or overnight oats for a burst of flavor. Spread some on your toast, bagels, or muffins.

Dessert Topping: Drizzle leftover cranberry sauce over ice cream, pound cake, cheesecake, or a Danish. Add a spoonful to some cottage cheese for a delightful snack.

Tips and Variations for Making Classic Cranberry Sauce

Make this 15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce to serve for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. 


  • If you don’t have orange juice, you can certainly use water. 
  • Use fresh orange juice when possible.
  • Use fresh or frozen cranberries.
  • Allow time to cool and chill before serving. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Make a double batch for extra goodness.


  • You can add pecan pieces to the cranberry sauce at the end of cooking time.
  • Feel free to add raisins, cinnamon, or nutmeg to this sauce at the end of the cooking time.
  • Use lemon zest instead of orange zest.
  • Add some cinnamon to the recipe while cooking. A dash of cinnamon adds warmth.
  • If you don’t like the berries in the sauce, you can strain it and remove them.
  • Experiment with sweeteners like brown sugar, pure maple syrup, or honey.
15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange. Four pictures shown at different stages from start to finish. Text overlay.

Cooking a Turkey this year? Be sure to check out my recipe for Cooking a Turkey In A Bag. It’s simple and moist every time.

Can I Make Cranberry Sauce Ahead of Time?

You sure can! Go ahead and make this up to a week in advance. This will free up your time in the kitchen during the holidays.

How to Serve Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Serve as a side to turkey, dressing, or ham. Or it’s also incredibly awesome piled high on a leftover turkey sandwich. Yep, just add a little mayo, cranberry sauce, and turkey to bread, and you have a masterpiece of a sandwich.

I believe once you see how easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce is to prepare, you may find yourself making it every year. The taste is so much fresher.

15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce in a bowl with text overlay.
15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce


Can I use frozen cranberries instead of fresh cranberries?

Yes, you can use frozen cranberries if fresh ones are not available. I usually buy several extra bags when they are in season and freeze them to use later in the year.

Can I make Orange Cranberry Sauce in advance?

Yes. You can make homemade cranberry sauce up to a week in advance. Just keep it covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

Can I add other fruit to my Homemade Cranberry Sauce?

Absolutely. Orange is added to this recipe, but some blueberries would also be nice.

More Holiday Side Dishes

Sweet Potato Casserole

Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes

Cranberry Stuffing

Easy Corn Casserole

Pineapple Casserole

Chicken and Dressing

Holiday Desserts

No-Bake Pumpkin Pie

Southern Sweet Potato Pie

Carrot Cake

Chocolate Pecan Pie

9 Southern Thanksgiving Desserts

15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce

15 Minute Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Gina Abernathy
Homemade Cranberry Sauce is always something that shows up at our house during the holidays. Easy to make and only takes 15 minutes.
5 from 14 votes
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Course Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice juice from 2 oranges
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries


  • Wash cranberries and pick out bad or bruised ones.
  • Bring water, orange juice, orange zest, and sugar to a boil.
  • Add cranberries and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until cranberries have burst. Mash gently with a spoon. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
  • At this point, you can transfer the sauce to an air-tight bowl or a covered serving dish and place it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Keyword Homemade Cranberry Sauce


  1. 5 stars
    Homemade cranberry sauce is so much better than store bought!! This recipe is going on our Thanksgiving menu for sure!

  2. 5 stars
    Cranberry sauce is a thanksgiving staple in our home, and this is no exception! Turned out perfectly sweet and delicious; can’t wait to enjoy it at this years feast!

  3. 5 stars
    I love making homemade cranberry sauce! This recipe was so easy to make. Definitely going on our Thanksgiving menu!

  4. 5 stars
    Simple ingredients and simple to make. Really like that I can use frozen cranberries so I can make this year round.

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