Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipe – Oh Sweet Basil

We got so many requests for a cranberry sauce recipe last year that I finally wrote mine down and photographed it! It is simple and completely homemade.

Growing up was all about avoiding the cranberry sauce around the holidays. My mom wasn’t a huge fan and my dad liked it straight up from a can, so she opened one up every year to please him but none of us partook of that congealed mass of canned fruit. In other words, I never even considered that cranberry sauce could be delicious until a random sandwich shop in town served up a leftover Thanksgiving sandwich that sent me on the most wonderful journey ever. I’ve been sold ever since.

It doesn’t matter if you’re going with a smoked turkey or a roasted turkey, cranberry sauce goes with all of them and it’s a Thanksgiving must-have for our family! Forget the canned stuff and make it from scratch! We use fresh whole cranberries, orange juice and a little sugar to make the most delicious homemade cranberry sauce.

It can be made weeks ahead of time so that it’s ready for the big day.

Ingredients for Homemade Cranberry Sauce

You only need 6 ingredients for this homemade cranberry sauce and I’ll bet you have 4 of them already in the house…maybe 5! Here is what you will need:

  • Cranberries – fresh is best, but you can use frozen
  • White Sugar – adds sweetness and cuts the tartness of the cranberries
  • Brown Sugar – I love the richness of flavor a little brown sugar adds
  • Fresh Orange Juice – this is the key to the whole recipe imho, it wakes the whole dish up!
  • Cinnamon – adds warmth and flavor
  • Cloves – just a hint of cloves adds so much flavor

The measurements for each are listed in the recipe card at the end of this post.

How to Make a Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Recipes just don’t get easier than this! Combine all the ingredients in saucepan over medium heat and let it simmer until it has reduced and the berries start to pop.

Let the sauce cool completely before serving. It will thicken a little more as it cools.

a photo of a large white serving bowl full of dark red christmas cranberry jello with a small bowl of fresh cranberries in the foreground.

What Cranberry Sauce is Eaten With

Cranberry sauce is most commonly eaten combined with meat. It can be eaten with chicken, pork, turkey or ham. In the United States, it is most popular for Thanksgiving and Christmas eaten with turkey.

How to Thicken Cranberry Sauce

The sauce will thicken as it simmers on the stove. It will also thicken as it cools, so don’t worry if it’s a little more runny than you would like while it’s still simmering.

Can I Use Frozen Cranberries?

Yes, you can definitely use frozen cranberries and they can be cooked straight from frozen.

a photo of an oval shaped white serving dish full of homemade cranberry sauce with a silver spoon sitting next to it and a small white bowl full of fresh cranberry next to it.

Can Cranberry Sauce Be Made Ahead?

One of the best things about cranberry sauce is that it can be made up to 2 weeks in advance. One less thing to make on Thanksgiving day! Just store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

It freezes very well and will keep in the freezer for up to 12 months. Be sure it is in an airtight, freezer-safe container.

A Complete Thanksgiving Menu

Head to our Thanksgiving recipe roundup for all our favorite Thanksgiving recipes. We also have a complete Thanksgiving day guide which will give you all the information you need to prepare and execute a full Thanksgiving feast.


This cranberry sauce recipe is easy can be made ahead of time (which might be my favorite part)! It’s so simple to make it from scratch and it’s night-and-day better than the canned stuff!


More Thanksgiving Side Dishes:

a photo of a large white serving dish full of cranberry sauce with a silver serving spoon sitting next to the bowl and a small bowl of fresh cranberries next to it.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Cooling Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 6

  • 1 Bag Cranberries 12-16 oz
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Fresh Orange Juice
  • Dash Cinnamon
  • Dash Cloves

Can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and freezes for 12 months

Nutrition Facts

Classic Cranberry Sauce

Amount Per Serving (0.5 Cup)

Calories 174
Calories from Fat 9

% Daily Value*

Fat 1g2%

Saturated Fat 1g6%

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 1g

Sodium 7mg0%

Potassium 135mg4%

Carbohydrates 45g15%

Fiber 3g13%

Sugar 39g43%

Protein 1g2%

Vitamin A 96IU2%

Vitamin C 23mg28%

Calcium 23mg2%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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