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This Thanksgiving, sink your spoon deep into a bowl of homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce. It’s tart, sweet, subtly spiced, and the EASIEST Thanksgiving side.

recipe for cranberry sauce with orange juice in a white bowl with spoon

Why You’ll Love This Easy Cranberry Orange Sauce Recipe

  • It’s Incredibly Easy to Make. Simply dump all the ingredients into a saucepan, stir, and BOOM. You’ve got bright, blissful cranberry orange sauce that’s the perfect tart bite against juicy Thanksgiving Turkey, Glazed Sweet Potatoes, and Balsamic Brussels Sprouts.
  • It’s Healthy. This sauce is better for you than the canned kind. It’s made without preservatives or additives. Plus, it’s naturally sweetened with honey instead of using corn syrup. The fresh cranberries also provide an extra boost of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • It’s SO Much More Delicious Than the Canned Kind. Do not, I repeat, do not buy the traditional canned cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly. The holiday meal you spend hours preparing deserves the real deal. With notes of orange, cinnamon, and floral honey, this recipe elevates everyday cranberry sauce beyond expectations.
  • A Change of Pace. This Cranberry sauce is cooked and sweetened, whereas cranberry relish, like this Cranberry Orange Relish, is made of fresh fruit pureed in food processor and served cold.
The best cranberry sauce recipe served in a bowl

5 Star Review

“This sauce couldn’t be easier to make. I don’t think I will ever go back to the slab of canned sauce everyone else sticks on the table. Tangy, tart, but semi-sweet.”

— Kathleen —
Ingredients for a cranberry orange sauce recipe

How to Make Cranberry Orange Sauce

The Ingredients

  • Fresh Cranberries. Ditch the can and head to your produce department for a bag of fresh whole cranberries. You also can often find frozen cranberries.
  • Orange Juice + Zest. For a fresh, festive pop that brightens and sweetens the cranberry sauce. Burst of happy flavor!
  • Honey. Save the granulated sugar for Pecan Pie Cobbler and instead grab a bottle of honey. I love the subtle floral flavor it lends the sauce. And less sugar also means saving your calories for other delicious parts of the meal.

Dietary Note

For a vegan cranberry orange sauce that’s still sugar free, omit the honey and sweeten with maple syrup. The overall flavor profile will be different but it will still be a delicious, naturally sweetened cranberry sauce alternative.

  • Cinnamon + Cloves. Add warmth and subtle spice.
  • Salt. A pinch of salt balances all the flavors in this homemade cranberry orange sauce recipe.

The Directions

A saucepan with fresh cranberries, orange zest, cinnamon, and honey for a gourmet cranberry sauce recipe
  1. Simmer. Bring all ingredients to a boil then simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan.
Cranberry sauce with orange juice and cinnamon in a pot
  1. Cook. Cook and stir for 10-15 minutes until the cranberries break down and the sauce thickens. Remove, let cool, serve. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Store cranberry orange sauce in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. 
  • To Freeze. Homemade cranberry orange sauce may be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before serving.
  • To Reheat. Warm in the microwave or on the stovetop to the desired temperature. You may also serve leftover cranberry sauce at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator.

Meal Prep Tip

Knock one thing off your Thanksgiving to-do list. Cranberry orange sauce can be prepared ahead of time and then chilled in the fridge or frozen until ready to serve.

healthy cranberry orange sauce no sugar with orange and cinnamon in a white bowl with a spoon beside

Leftover Ideas

Spread leftover fresh cranberry sauce over toast, stir it into your morning oatmeal, layer it in these yummy yogurt Leftover Cranberry Sauce Parfaits, jazz up ham or pork chops, use it to top these Cranberry Cream Cheese Appetizer Bites, or spread leftover turkey sandwiches.

What to Serve with Cranberry Orange Sauce

The best homemade cranberry sauce recipe with orange juice and cinnamon in a bowl with a spoon
  • Saucepan. A standard saucepan like this will be your handy sidekick not just on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year.
  • Measuring Spoons. An essential tool no cook should be without.
  • Serving Bowl. Because even cranberries deserved to get dressed up for the holidays.
  • Microplane. The perfect grater for zesting the orange peel.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Sweeten to Taste. Some like it tart, others like it sweet. Add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey to the sauce, if desired (be careful when you taste—the sauce is hot!).
  • Perfect Consistency. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little extra water to thin the sauce until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Jazz it Up! Don’t be afraid to jazz up your easy cranberry sauce further with a dash of maple syrup, garnish of cinnamon stick, splash of red wine, or a few chopped dried apricots or cherries.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

4.95 from 38 votes
This easy cranberry orange sauce is the best! Quick to pull together and WAY better than the can. Perfect with turkey, for duck or dessert!

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes

Servings: 2 cups, approx.

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries thawed if frozen
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey plus 2 tablespoons (plus additional 1 to 2 tablespoons to taste)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Bring cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, water, cinnamon, cloves, and salt to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Continue cooking, stirring often, until the cranberries break down and the sauce thickens. Taste (careful, it will be hot!) and add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey as desired. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little extra water to reach the desired consistency. Let cool, then serve.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Store cranberry orange sauce in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. 
  • TO FREEZE: Homemade cranberry orange sauce may be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before serving.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm in the microwave or on the stovetop to the desired temperature. You may also serve leftover cranberry sauce at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 8); about 1/4 cupCalories: 62kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gPotassium: 89mgFiber: 2gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 72IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 1mg

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Cranberry Sauce Not Thickening?

Be patient. It can take time for cranberries to break down, reduce, and thicken. Give this sauce the full 15 minutes to simmer and do its thing. Also, note that the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

Why Are Cranberries Bitter?

Cranberries are bitter because they contain powerful antioxidants, called tannins. Adding something sweet, like honey or orange juice, helps balance the flavors so that the sweetness of the cranberries can shine.

Related Recipes

Round out your holiday spread with these other healthy Thanksgiving side dishes.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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4.95 from 38 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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58 Comments

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  1. This was my first time making cranberry sauce and it came out fine. I will say it’s a little too sweet for my taste. Next time I will lessen the amount of honey in it.5 stars

  2. I made this yesterday with a bag of fresh cranberries I needed to use from the holidays….WOW! It is refreshing and delicious. Going to serve it along with cornflake crusted chicken for dinner. Thank you!5 stars

  3. Tangy and not too sweet. It is a refreshing flavor on your Thanksgiving table. The orange adds freshness and compliments the heavier dishes. My family really loved it!5 stars

  4. I can’t believe how good it is. My family could eat it every single night! I made it as stated in the recipe, found it to be just perfect! Using a really good local honey probably helped. So happy I stumbled upon this recipe!5 stars

  5. I made this for the first time for our Thanksgiving meal and it was phenomenal! We doubled the recipe. I like to test out recipes before I serve them to others, especially for holidays. This one is just PERFECT!5 stars

  6. Perfection! Dad always opens a can of cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, so this year I told him I’ll bring homemade cranberry sauce. New addition to our Thanksgiving table.5 stars

  7. This is the absolute best cranberry sauce ever!!! I did put an extra 1/4 cup of honey in it because we like it a little sweeter since the cranberries are so tart, and I use a cinnamon stick. I can’t wait to try this for Christmas on top of homemade cheesecake!5 stars

  8. This is one of my favorites! Super easy, and I love that it has honey instead of sugar. The taste of the cranberry really shines.5 stars

  9. Mmmm! Just made this recipe, and wow, it’s delicious! Only thing I did differently was I got the hand blender and pureed it. Tastes amazing, and I can’t wait to have an English muffin for breakfast with this yummy stuff slathered on it! Delicious!5 stars

  10. This recipe is SO easy and SO yummy. I think a goto as long as I can find fresh cranberries. It was great on the Brie Bites and also over vanilla ice cream!5 stars

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