Heavenly cranberry sauce made with fresh cranberries and orange juice is a perfect, traditional side dish bursting with homemade, mouthwatering flavors.
2020 has been quite a year in most homes. School being out, changes everywhere, and the holidays that are upcoming may not even feel like a holiday right now.
But can you believe Thanksgiving is only a few months away (at the time of writing this!)?
And even though you may not feel the same sense of jubilation as the years passed, there is still cause to celebrate the love of family this Thanksgiving season.
Now growing up, I was always forced into the canned stuff – you know, the jelly version that plops out onto the plate in one solid unified chunk. But even worse was the canned real cranberries, where I inevitably always got stems. I gag thinking about it.
If this was your childhood, too….stop. STOP canned cranberries. It’s a sin.
Once you see how EASY it is to take fresh cranberries and turn them into the homemade sauce, you will be SHOCKED at the flavor you have been missing!
This three-ingredient, Cranberry sauce made with orange juice is probably the most simple Thanksgiving side dish you will make this season.
And because homemade cranberry sauce tastes delicious warm OR cold, you can make this ahead as well. The full recipe is at the bottom in an easy-to-print recipe sheet.
- 12 oz. frozen cranberries(thawed and drained of excess liquid) OR bag of fresh cranberries (preferred)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup orange juice
Why this recipe works
- Cranberries can be incredibly tart, and the sugar and orange juice balances out the sauce. Making cranberries this way complements turkey so well.
- Holidays can be REALLY busy, and this sauce can be made ahead of time.
- The recipe can be served hot OR cold.
- Only a 30-minute cranberry side dish.
How to make Orange Juice Cranberry Sauce
Steps 1-4: Add fresh cranberries, white sugar, and orange juice in a saucepan and mix well. Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally.
Step 5: After about 5 minutes, the cranberries will begin to sizzle and make noise (pop!) and boil.
Step 6: Once they begin to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook and stir for 5-7 minutes or until most or all of the berries are popped open.
Remove from heat and let stand. As the mixture cools, it will begin to thicken because of the pectin.
Step 7: Spoon sauce into a serving dish and serve. Store any leftover sauce covered in the refrigerator.
Expert Cranberry Sauce Tips
I like the sugary ease of this cranberry sauce recipe, but there are many ways to alter the flavor of cranberry sauce without too much extra work.
- Cinnamon– A dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or even apple pie spice is a great way to give it some fall flavor.
- Maple Syrup or Honey – Cut some of the sugar in the recipe and substitute it with honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar. This also helps with some of the tartness in the berry.
- Changing the Juice – Orange juice and cranberry go well together, but I have found that grape, cran-grape, and blackberry juices are just as good in homemade cranberry sauce. I have made different versions during the holiday time with great success.
- Zest – Need to serve this recipe up fancy? Add a bit of orange zest on the top of the bowl – it adds a bit of color and fanciness.
- Jam – This is our biggest tip. Adding about 1/4th cup of Grape Jam while boiling brings in delicious sweetness to this side dish.
Related Cranberry Side Dish Recipes
There are many people that freeze cranberry sauce. It is recommended sauce be poured into a plastic bag or sealed container. I am not an expert on freezing cranberry sauce because there have never been any leftovers in my home, so please check out other influencers to see full details. Here is a site that shares one method.
Since the mixture is hot once off the stove, if you want fewer berries and more of purified sauce, use a potato masher. Once cool, you can use an immersion handheld blender if desired.
Cranberry sauce can be made 2-3 days ahead of time. It can be served cold or reheated on the stove for a warm sauce.
Cranberry sauce, in a tight container, should be eaten about 7 days after its first made.
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