This Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipes Is Everyone's Go-To (2024)

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The go-to classic, make-ahead cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner.


Elise Bauer

This Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipes Is Everyone's Go-To (1)

Elise Bauer

Elise founded Simply Recipes in 2003 and led the site until 2019. She has an MA in Food Research from Stanford University.

Learn about Simply Recipes'Editorial Process

Updated October 27, 2023

91 Ratings

This Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipes Is Everyone's Go-To (2)

In This Recipe

  • Perfect for Turkey

  • Swaps and Subs

  • Make-Ahead

  • Storing and Freezing

  • Love Cranberries? Try These Recipes!

Do you like cranberry sauce? My father can't get enough of it during the holiday season. He'll even stock up on fresh cranberries when they become available in late October, and freeze them to eat all year long.

I think he looks forward to Thanksgiving just because he knows he can have as much cranberry sauce as he wants with his slices of turkey, and plenty leftover for turkey sandwiches.

When he finally runs out of frozen cranberries sometime in May, he'll start buying the cans. He'll hide the cans in a remote corner of the pantry and eat up the canned cranberries all by himself. Yes, he's a little obsessed.

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For me it's been an acquired taste. As a kid I just couldn't understand why something so beautifully garnet colored didn't taste like berry pie filling!

Cranberries are tart, very tart, and need sugar to balance their tartness. But even with the sugar, the tartness comes through. As an adult, I have come to love cranberry sauce in all forms, including a cranberry relish that you don't even have to cook.

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Cranberry Sauce Is Perfect with Thanksgiving Turkey

Cranberries are absolutely perfect with turkey. Sort of like lemons and chicken. Something about the flavors, they're just made for each other. Which is why the sauce is so good to spread over turkey in your leftover turkey sandwiches.

The following is a simple and easy recipe for cranberry sauce, one that you can easily dress up with extras. If you have a favorite way of making yours, please let us know about it in the comments!

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Cranberry Sauce Swaps & Substitutions

  • Stir in any of the following at the end of cooking: pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.
  • For a stronger orange flavor, decrease the amount of water in the recipe to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup orange juice.
  • For a reduced-sugar cranberry sauce, use half the amount of sugar called for, then taste and add more as needed. Also reduce the amount of water to 1/2 cup, adding more as needed if the sauce seems too thick.
  • To make sugar-free cranberry sauce, substitute a sugar replacer like Splenda or Truvia for the sugar.

How Far Ahead Can You Make Cranberry Sauce?

For the best consistency, make sure the cranberry sauce is thoroughly chilled before serving so it has time to set up. Making it the day before Thanksgiving gives it plenty of time to chill and saves you a task on the day itself.

You can make this cranberry sauce up to 1 week before serving.

Your Make-Ahead Thanksgiving ScheduleREAD MORE:

How to Store & Freeze Cranberry Sauce

Refrigerate leftover cranberry sauce for up to 2 weeks. Or freeze the sauce for up to 6 months.

Love Cranberries? Try These Recipes!

  • Cranberry Relish
  • Apple Cranberry Chutney
  • Cranberry Glazed Meatballs
  • Cranberry Orange Nut Bread
  • Cranberry Upside Down Cake

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time5 mins

Cook Time15 mins

Total Time20 mins

Servings9 servings

Yield2 1/4 cups

The recipe calls for a cup of water. You can easily substitute that with 1/2 cup of orange juice and 1/2 cup of water if you want to increase the orange note in the sauce (cranberries and oranges play well together!)

You can also reduce the sugar if you want. Start out with half as much and add more if you think it needs it. If you use less sugar, reduce the amount of water you add as well.


  • 1 cup (200g) sugar

  • 1 cup (250ml) water

  • 4 cups (one 12-ounce package) fresh or frozen cranberries

  • Optional: pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice


  1. Rinse the cranberries:

    Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse them. Pick out and discard any damaged or bruised cranberries.

  2. Boil the water with sugar:

    Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

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  3. Add the cranberries, cook until they burst:

    Add the cranberries to the pot and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst.

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    This Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipes Is Everyone's Go-To (8)

  4. Stir in the mix-ins, if using:

    Once the cranberries have burst you can leave the cranberry sauce as is, or dress it up with other ingredients. We like to mix in a half a cup of chopped pecans a pinch or two of orange zest.

    Some people like adding raisins or currants, or even blueberries for added sweetness. You can also add holiday spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice. If adding spices, start with a pinch of each and add more to your taste.

  5. Cool:

    Remove the pot from heat. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator. Note that the cranberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

    Did you make the recipe with any special twists? Tell us about it and leave a comment below!

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
0g Fat
27g Carbs
0g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 9
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 2mg0%
Total Carbohydrate 27g10%
Dietary Fiber 1g5%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 5mg26%
Calcium 4mg0%
Iron 0mg1%
Potassium 31mg1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.

A Simply Fabulous Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Traditions


The Turkey

Vegetarian Mains

Starchy Sides and Rolls

Veggie Sides

Cranberry Sauce and Gravy



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This Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipes Is Everyone's Go-To (2024)


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