This easy and quick cranberry sauce recipe is done in 10 minutes and produces a thick, rich, amazing flavor perfect for your Thanksgiving meal!
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.
What do you eat with cranberry sauce?
Cranberry sauce is super versatile! Although, we mostly think of turkey when we hear of cranberry sauce, the truth is you can pair it with so many different dishes. Here are a few of most common ones:
- Roasted Turkey or Chicken: Cranberry sauce is almost always on the table near the deliciously, roasted turkey on Thanksgiving Day. You can actually pair it with any roasted poultry, such as roasted chicken. The tartness of the sauce complements the rich flavors of the meat. I highly recommend my Juiciest Spatchcocked Turkey or Butter-Basted Slow Cooker Turkey Breast.
- Sandwiches: Don’t knock it ’til you try it! Cranberry sauce makes for a flavorful spread on sandwiches. I love a good ole turkey sandwich with the leftovers from Thanksgiving!
- Bread and Rolls: Spread cranberry sauce on bread or rolls like a delicious jam! This would be a great option for breakfast after Thanksgiving Day! Yum!
- Roasted Vegetables: The tanginess of cranberry sauce can add a unique dimension to roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or winter squash.
- Pork Dishes: I absolutely love the sweetness of cranberry sauce paired with a savory glazed ham. It really works well with just about any pork dish! Try it on pork tenderloin or pork chops for an added touch of sweetness. Set it on the side of my Tangy Grilled Pork Chops or Sheet Pan Brown Sugar Garlic Pork Loin Filet. Delish!
- Salads: Add a little bit of water to get your cranberry sauce a little runny. Then drizzle it over salads, especially those with mixed greens, nuts, and cheese, for an unexpected burst of flavor.
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.
While I’ve not ever found a surefire way to eliminate the bitterness, here are a few things you can do to help with the it:
- Add salt! To start, we add a little salt. The salt helps to make the sugar taste sweeter, masking a little of the bitterness.
- Add baking soda! 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, keep in mind, the sauce will foam up when you add it but will eventually dissolve.
- Let it age! 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.
* If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. The values do not include optional ingredients or when ingredients are added to taste. 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.