This Thanksgiving, skip the canned goods; my fresh, homemade cranberry orange sauce couldn't be easier to make! It takes just 5 ingredients and 15 minutes of time. With its vibrantly tart-sweet flavor and deep red color, it's an absolute must-have dish for your holiday table!
This post is sponsored by Sprouts. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
There are a few true unsung heroes of a classic Thanksgiving feast, and I firmly believe that cranberry sauce is one of them. So often a jiggly afterthought plopped out of a can, it rarely gets its chance to shine among the greater sides like mashed potatoes and cornbread. But as always, a homemade recipe changes the game; make one batch of this fresh cranberry orange sauce, and I can promise you'll never even consider buying the canned version again.
Why I call this the best cranberry orange sauce
Among its many attributes, this recipe is:
- Quick: Made in less than 15 minutes
- Simple: Requires just 5 ingredients
- Easy: There's about 2 minutes of prep time - seriously! No fancy kitchen gadgets required.
- Fresh: Made with whole cranberries, freshly-squeezed orange juice and zest, and freshly-grated ginger root for a little extra zing.
- Flavor-packed: Between the tart cranberries, citrusy oranges, and zippy ginger, the bright and vibrant flavors in this tangy sauce were made for each other - a flavor explosion if there ever was one.
- Adaptable: Want a vanilla cranberry sauce? Looking to add some nuts in the mix? You do you.
- Convenient: Make-ahead and freezer-friendly; what more could you want in a Thanksgiving dish? (These mini pumpkin spice cheesecakes are equally convenient if you're looking for a dessert option!)
- Special diet-friendly: This simple cranberry sauce is naturally gluten-free and vegan, making it even more universally enjoyable for all your holiday guests. Since it's primarily made from fresh fruit, you can easily make it organic too!
Ingredients you'll need
This cranberry orange sauce is made with a super short list of ingredients, all of which you'll find at your local Sprouts! They always have a great selection of organic produce, which is perfect for this recipe.
- Oranges - Four whole oranges should be enough for a single batch of homemade cranberry sauce; you'll use both the juice and (some of) the zest. I highly recommend using a citrus juicer and zester, but any type of grater with small holes will do the trick to zest your oranges. The key is to make sure you don't zest the pith (the white part of the orange peel), which could add a bitter flavor to your sauce. (Quick tip - don't throw those extra orange peels away; you can candy them instead!)
- Cranberries - I used fresh cranberries for my sauce. Frozen should work just fine too, but you may find that you need to cook the sauce for a few extra minutes if you go this route. Dried cranberries, however, are a no-go!
- Sugar - I used cane sugar, but granulated sugar works as well.
- Ginger root - Sprouts is my go-to source for organic ginger root, which I find has more flavor than the non-organic variety. You'll only need a small amount for this recipe, but you can also use it for my ginger turmeric juice shots, pumpkin cream cold brew, or DIY chai latte! You can grate the ginger with the same tool you used to zest your orange. If for some reason you can't find fresh ginger root, try swapping out finely-minced crystallized ginger, or simply stir some ground ginger into the finished sauce.
Homemade cranberry sauce in three easy steps
Step one: Combine freshly-squeezed orange juice, sugar, grated ginger root, and salt in a medium saucepan. Place it on your stove over medium to medium-low heat and let the mixture cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is starting to simmer - much like the process of making a basic simple syrup.
Step two: Add your cranberries to the mixture in the saucepan and cover it. Let it cook at a simmer or low boil for about 10 minutes, stirring here and there, until the cranberries have burst (you'll here them pop!) and the mixture is saucy - thick enough to coat a spoon.
Step three: Remove the sauce from the stove and stir in the orange zest. That's it! You can serve it while it's warm, or chill it in the refrigerator for later.
Make it your own!
Although I humbly suggest making this cranberry orange sauce recipe as written (at least the first time!), you can definitely put your own spin on it in one of the following ways:
- Use water instead of orange juice. If you're looking for a classic cranberry sauce without the orange twist, you can simply swap the juice for water and skip the added orange zest.
- Add brown sugar. Try replacing up to half of the sugar in this recipe with brown sugar for a richer flavor with more of a molasses twist.
- Add mix-ins: In step three, you can stir in a bit of vanilla extract, a spice or two (think cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves), or even chopped nuts if that's your thing!
Cranberry Sauce FAQ
Definitely! If anything, it tastes better on day two. Once the sauce has been made, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to two weeks.
Yes! Store it in a freezer-safe container for up six months. Let it thaw out in the refrigerator and then reheat if desired.
This sauce can be eaten cold, at room temperature, or warm - it's honestly fantastic any which way. To reheat, place it back on the stove over low heat, stirring often, just until sufficiently warmed.
Using leftover cranberry sauce
Although most people think of serving cranberry sauce first and foremost as a condiment for turkey on Thanksgiving (and turkey sandwiches for the days after) there's so many other ways to use it year-round! Much like a fruit compote, it's great served with:
- Pound cake
- Crepes and pancakes
- Biscuits and scones
- Muffins and quick breads - especially zucchini bread and these spiced pear muffins!
- Ice cream. (I bet it'd be awesome swirled into vanilla ice cream for a cranberry twist on this chocolate ice cream cake!)
More festive recipes for your holiday table
Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce
This homemade cranberry orange sauce couldn't be easier to make; it requires just 5 ingredients and less than 15 minutes of your time. With its vibrantly tart-sweet flavor and deep red color, it's an absolute must-have dish for your holiday table!
- Prep Time: 2
- Cook Time: 13
- Total Time: 15
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: sauces and spreads
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
- 8 ounces (1 cup) freshly-squeezed orange juice
- 5 ¼ ounces (¾ cup) cane or granulated sugar
- 1” piece of fresh ginger root, grated
- heavy pinch of salt
- 12 ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 teaspoon freshly-grated orange zest
- Make a syrup: Combine freshly-squeezed orange juice, sugar, grated ginger root, and salt in a medium saucepan. Place on stove over medium to medium-low heat and let the mixture cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is starting to simmer.
- Add cranberries to the mixture in the saucepan. Cover and let cook at a simmer or low boil for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have burst and softened. Once done, the mixture should be saucy and thick enough to coat a spoon.
- Remove from heat and stir in orange zest. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.
- You'll need about 4 whole oranges for a single batch of this cranberry sauce.
- If using frozen cranberries, you may need to cook the sauce for slightly longer to get the cranberries softened and the sauce thickened.
- If for some reason you can't find fresh ginger root, try swapping out finely-minced crystallized ginger, or simply stir some ground ginger into the finished sauce.
- Use water instead of orange juice and no orange zest to make a classic, straightforward cranberry sauce.
- Use half brown sugar for a richer molasses flavor.
- Stir in vanilla extract, spices, or chopped nuts in step 3 if desired.
Storing, freezing, and reheating:
- Cranberry sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Reheat on the stove over low heat, stirring often, until warm.
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