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November 20, 2023

Classic Cranberry Sauce

We’re sharing the most classic, the very best, absolute easiest cranberry sauce recipe. It’s a dish that cannot be skipped, and we recommend you make this one!


homemade cranberry sauce in a serving bowl with a wooden spoon made with orange juice, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla

More great cranberry recipes this way!

The Best, Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Homemade cranberry sauce is a must on every self-respecting Thanksgiving table. The flavor of homemade cranberry sauce is a welcome contrast to the richness that dominates the spread. This fresh cranberry sauce recipe is as classic and easy as can be. Orange juice compliments the cranberry’s assertive tartness and adds just the right amount of sweetness. We’ve added a hint of the warm spices that define the season—clove and cinnamon—as well as a dusting of brown sugar. You can also serve it with Thanksgiving Breakfast or on a holiday Cheese Board.

Fresh cranberries, Apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, salt, vanilla & orange juice and zest in prep bowls

The Best Cranberry Sauce Ingredients

This is similar to our Cranberry Chutney, and totally different from our Cranberry Relish–It’s traditional, classic, easy and gorgeous. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Cranberries, fresh or frozen

  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Brown sugar

  • Cloves

  • Cinnamon

  • An orange

  • Vanilla extract

Cranberries, Apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, salt, vanilla & orange juice and zest in a saucepan
homemade cranberry sauce in a saucepan made with brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, orange zest & juice, vanilla and spices

How To Make Cranberry Sauce

It only takes about ten minutes to make and it is seriously fool proof. If you’re hosting, you can get it done way ahead of time. If you’re being hosted, offer to bring the cranberry sauce! It’s always welcome. Here’s how to make cranberry sauce from scratch:

  1. Pour everything into a saucepan.

  2. Bring the cranberry sauce to a boil. Because of how quickly it’ll thicken, cranberry sauce has a tendency to splatter, so keep a close eye on it and stir it pretty often. It’s also a good ideal to use a bigger saucepan that you think you’ll need so the sauce has plenty of room.

  3. Simmer over low heat until it looks the way you want it to—usually it’s ready in about ten minutes. Remember, it will continue to thicken and gel as it sits and cools, too.

homemade cranberry sauce in a serving bowl with a wooden spoon made with orange juice, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla

How to Store Cranberry Sauce + Tips

  • Homemade cranberry sauce keeps for a long time in the fridge. In other words, it’s the Thanksgiving make-ahead recipe of your holiday hosting dreams.

  • Is cranberry sauce served warm or cold? It’s up to you! We typically make this cranberry sauce recipe a few days before Thanksgiving, so that we can reserve our stovetop real estate for other things on turkey day. Because of that, it’s usually cold from the fridge when we dish it up. However, if you make the cranberry sauce in the moment, it’ll be fine to serve it warm from the stove! It will thicken a bit as it cools, and that’s just fine.

  • What do you eat the cranberry sauce with? Everything! Truly, we put a big dollop in the middle of the plate with our Classic Mashed Potatoes and other Thanksgiving Sides. But traditionally, cranberry sauce is for the turkey. And of course, when it comes to making leftover turkey sandwiches or Turkey Hand Pies, the cranberry sauce is as essential as the mayo—in other words, extremely essential!

  • How do you make cranberry sauce thicker? Cranberries have a lot of pectin, which means that they’re naturally prone to thickening as they cook. In fact, in our experience, the issue with cranberry sauce isn’t achieving thickness or getting it to gel—rather, it’s more common to feel that the cranberry sauce has become too thick too fast because of all that pectin. If you do find that the sauce is more runny than you prefer, simply simmer it a bit longer to cook off a bit of the liquid. It should thicken up rather quickly.

  • Is cranberry sauce healthy? Yes! Cranberries are incredibly good for you—loaded with antioxidants and anthocyanins, vitamins and minerals. They’re a superfood, and they taste good, too.

  • Can you freeze cranberry sauce? Yes, you can freeze cranberry sauce! It’ll keep for up to a year in the freezer, but it’ll taste best if you use it within two months.

homemade cranberry sauce in a serving bowl with a wooden spoon made with orange juice, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla

More Classic Thanksgiving Side Dishes

The Jewel Of The Thanksgiving Table + More Recipes

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Classic Cranberry Sauce

  • Serves: 10
  • Yields: 2 Cups
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  10 min


  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • ⅓ cup fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Combine the cranberries, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, cloves, salt, cinnamon, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla, and ⅔ cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring regularly, until the mixture thickens and the berries begin to break down, about 10 minutes.

  2. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled. Will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Note: If you prefer a thicker cranberry sauce, simmer until it reaches your desired consistency! Keep in mind that it will continue to thicken slightly off heat.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories63
  • Protein0 g
  • Carbohydrates16 g
  • Total Fat0 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium60 mg
  • Total Sugars11 g

Classic Cranberry Sauce

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Lis

    Hi, Just wondering about the addition of Apple Cider Vinegar? This seems unusual to me but just wondering it adds to the sauce? Thanks :)

    We love the balance it lends and the way it compliments the tartness of the cranberries. It just sort of livens everything up!

  • Mariacarmen

    How much is a serving size? The recipe yields 11 servings

    About 1/4 cup.

  • Jessica

    Absolutely LOVE this cranberry sauce and is a staple at our family thanksgiving dinner! Way better than the canned stuff!

    Thanks Jessica, we are so happy you love it!

  • Dawn

    Truly the best cranberry sauce I've ever had! I'm done buying anything in a can or searching for another recipe. My family is in full agreement. I've made this a few times already and there were no left overs! When does that ever happen with cranberry sauce?! I should have reviewed this a long time ago. Holidays are coming up fast, snag some frozen cranberries people! Love your content!

    Thanks so much Dawn, we are so happy that you loved it!

  • Jenn

    My family usually just serves canned cranberry sauce so I decided to be a bit fancier and make it from scratch and I'm so glad I did. This was incredible!

    That's so great, nice job! We are glad you enjoyed it!