Ok. I have a confession to make. Years ago, I made the promise that there would always be canned cranberry sauce at my house after a tragic accident that included molten cranberry goo, a blender, a white kitchen, and an innocent little dog. (Don’t worry the dog wasn’t harmed.)
Well, I’ve reneged on that. The thing is, I was trying way too hard to make cranberry sauce. Way. Too. Hard. In reality, it’s not hard at all. A bag of fresh cranberries, a few everyday ingredients, and a saucepan is all you need.
This simple, easy, quick recipe is done in about 10 minutes and produces a thick, rich, amazingly flavorful cranberry sauce that’s the perfect complement to your Thanksgiving meal.
Can I use frozen cranberries?
You bet you can! Just thaw them first. You’ll need about 4 cups. In fact, I always recommend buying a few extra bags of fresh cranberries at the store when they’re in season and popping that whole bag in the freezer for the times when you can’t get fresh. It’s that simple.
Can I make cranberry sauce in advance?
Heck yes! I actually recommend it! The flavor improves over time and cranberry sauce is the perfect dish to make in advance to save you time on Thanksgiving Day.
How can I get the bitterness out of my cranberry sauce?
Ok, this one is a little more complicated, but bear with me a sec…
The bitterness that you taste in cranberry sauce is the result of the naturally occurring tannins in the cranberries. When we cook them, those cranberries burst and release those tannins. Some folks really love the tart/bitter flavor of cranberries. Others not so much.
There are a few things we can do to help with the bitterness, but unfortunately, I’ve not ever found a surefire way to eliminate it completely.
To start, we add a little salt. The salt helps to make the sugar taste sweeter, masking a little of the bitterness.
Some suggest that adding a small pinch of baking soda helps by limiting the acid in the sauce. And while tannic acid is what makes up some of the tannins in cranberries, it’s not all tannic acid. So, while adding a pinch of baking soda will help, again, it won’t eliminate it all. Just keep in mind it needs to be a small pinch. Also, the sauce will foam up when you add it but will eventually dissolve.
Others say that aging the cranberry sauce a bit will allow the tannins to soften. I do think that makes a little difference, so it’s another reason I recommend making cranberry sauce in advance. It will keep in the fridge for 7 to 10 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Cranberry sauce too thick? Too thin?
Cranberries have a relatively large amount of pectin in them compared to some other fruit. This pectin is what combines with acid and sugar to thicken the sauce. The same thing is what makes jelly set.
If you don’t cook it long enough, the pectin won’t have enough time to thicken the sauce. So if it’s too thin, simply cook it a little longer.
If you find the sauce too thick, add a little more orange juice (or water) until you get to the consistency you want.
Can I strain the sauce?
Absolutely! If you’re not a fan of the skins remaining in the sauce, pour the sauce through a fine mesh sieve or strainer to filter them out. Just do it while the mixture is still warm. It will thicken as it cools, which will make it harder to get through the sieve. You might also have to give it a little help by pressing the sauce through the sieve with the back of a wooden spoon.
Easy Cranberry Sauce
- 1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- pinch salt
- Rinse and drain the cranberries.
- In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, combine the cranberries, orange juice, sugar, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the cranberries have burst and the mixture has thickened – about 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and stir to combine.
- Allow to cool. Sauce will thicken more as it cools. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
Nutritional values provided are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.
I made this for our Christmas dinner. I don’t like cranberry sauce but I have family members that like it. I did taste it and it was delicious. Everyone who ate it loved it. Definitely making this for future dinners! It’s so easy to make too! I followed the recipe exactly and strained it. Thank you so much for sharing this!
You’re so welcome! Glad to hear everyone enjoyed it!
Love this Cranberry Sauce recipe. Will always make this homemade recipe from here on & want buy any Cranberry Sauce any more. This is definitely a winner. Everyone loved the Cranberry Sauce & wanted the recipe. Thank you so much for this recipe Stacey!!
Glad to hear you looked like a rockstar!
Perfect!!! I added a 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce to it and it was amazing!!!! Thanks Stacey!!
Perfect! Glad to hear it turned out great for you!
I too was a big fan of canned whole berry cranberry sauce, but alas, I have seen the error of my ways! This recipe was so easy and so DELICIOUS I’m here to say I will Never serve canned cranberry sauce again! Thank you for this recipe!!!
That’s amazing! I’m so glad you liked it!
I am keto, no sugar, and I have been making my own cranberry sauce for 6 years now. To be honest, I like the tang of cranberries. I also dry them to make cranberry “raisins” to use in salads, broccoli and slaw. To a 12 oz bag of cranberries, 1 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar substitute and that’s it. For dried, just sprinkle a couple of packets of stevia over the raw berries and bake at 170 degrees until dry and raisin like.
Thanks for sharing, Penny!
I had to go back and re-read the colossal cranberry mishap story! lol. I remember it the first time. Made me laugh again, thanks Stacey! I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time, though. 🙂
Definitely not funny the first time, but always get a good chuckle out of it now. Happy Thanksgiving, friend!
This was delicious! Thanks for sharing
So glad you enjoyed it!
Stacey – thanks so much for sharing this recipe. It was a huge success and it was so easy to fix! I have tried several of your recipes and I know they will turn out good. Do you have a recipe for lasagna?
Thanks again for all you do
Thanks so much, Teresa! You can find my super easy lasagna recipe here: https://southernbite.com/easiest-lasagna/
Susan W Hines
Hi! Just made this sauce and it is delicious! Thank you for such a great recipe!
So glad it turned out great for you!
My grandson absolutely loves cranberry sauce, especially the type with the berries in it. He has always liked it and asks me to prepare it, along with turkey drumsticks, frequently. Cranberry sauce also goes well with pork chops, in turkey meatloaf, and instead of melba sauce with a Monte Cristo sandwich. Thanks for your recipe, Stacey!
Sure hope you and you’re grandson will enjoy it!
Love Cranberry Sauce and not just with Turkey. Goes great with Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken Casserole, Baked Chicken. My mother brought a full case of the canned jellied variety after Christmas one year cause a can is enough for me but not the rest of the family.
Ha! So true!
I generally sweeten my cranberry sauce w/real maple syrup
I’ve heard from several folks that do that. Sounds great!
Mike, how much real maple syrup do you use?
So excited to try this Cranberry “easy” Sauce – loved your flashback story as well! Oh, the messes I have made – the darn lid! For those of you that just skipped the first sentence – that is where the link is to a wonderful story and recipe. Both recipes will be used NOV – JAN. Maybe not just the holidays – as it seems so simple! Thank you for the wonderful easy recipes and your personality comes through with each recipe. Thanks again!
Thanks so much, Angie!
Hi Stacy, thank you for this recipe, I can’t wait to make it! But you started out mentioning that you had a (now) funny story about molten goo and a dog… but you didn’t share the story! C’mon, we want to hear it, please?
Ha! Yes! If you click or tap the words “always be canned cranberry sauce” in that first paragraph it will take you to that story. You can also get there this way: https://southernbite.com/kentucky-pecan-pie/ Enjoy a good laugh at my expense! 🤣