4.84 from 42 votes

Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice

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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!)?

cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a wooden spoon

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.

Pass the turkey, pass the green bean casserole, pass the corn casserole, and yep, the delicious homemade cranberry sauce.

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!

Ingredients

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

  1. Cranberries can be incredibly tart, and the sugar and orange juice balances out the sauce. Making cranberries this way complements turkey so well. 
  2. Holidays can be REALLY busy, and this sauce can be made ahead of time.
  3. The recipe can be served hot OR cold.
  4. Only a 30-minute cranberry side dish. 

How to make Orange Juice Cranberry Sauce

collage of cranberries on the stove with white sugar and orange juice

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.

  1. Cinnamon– A dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or even apple pie spice is a great way to give it some fall flavor.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. Jam – This is our biggest tip. Adding about 1/4th cup of Grape Jam while boiling brings in delicious sweetness to this side dish.

FAQ’s

Can you freeze cranberry sauce? 

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.

What is the best way to mash cranberries for a smoother finish?

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. 

Can you make Orange Juice Cranberry Sauce ahead of time?

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.

How long does the sauce last?

Cranberry sauce, in a tight container, should be eaten about 7 days after its first made.

cranberry sauce in a bowl with a wooden spoon stirring sauce

 

4.84 from 42 votes

Fresh Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 24 minutes
Heavenly cranberry sauce made with fresh cranberries and orange juice is a perfect, traditional side dish bursting with homemade, mouthwatering flavors. A Thanksgiving MUST!  If you are looking for an easy homemade cranberry sauce that has orange juice, look no further! This is the BEST and QUICKEST cranberry sauce that goes from stove to table in under 30 minutes. Fine to prep ahead of time, only 3 ingredients are needed for a traditional holiday favorite. There is no holiday complete without this classic cranberry side dish.

Ingredients
 

  • 12 oz. frozen cranberries thawed and drained of excess moisture OR bag fresh cranberries (recommended)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice

Instructions

  • Add bag of fresh cranberries, white sugar and orange juice in a large sauce pan and whisk together. Know that cranberries and the liquid will expand in the pot, so its best to have a deep pot to ensure nothing overboils.
  • Heat cranberry mixture over medium high, stirring occasionally.
  • After about 5 minutes on the stove, the cranberries will begin to sizzle and make noise as they pop and boil.
  • Once the cranberries begin to boil, reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook and stir for an additional 5-7 minutes or until most or all of the berries are popped open. Stir occasionally while in pot.
  • After 10-15 minutes, remove cranberry sauce from heat and let stand, off heat.
  • As mixture cools, the sauce will naturally begin to thicken.
  • Spoon sauce into a serving dish, where cranberries can be served hot or completely cooled and served cold.
  • Store any left overs covered in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Video

Notes

BIG TIP –

If you prefer a sweeter cranberry sauce over tart – while boiling, add 1/4th cup of Grape Jam! That sweetness gets into the sauce and brings a great level of sweetness. This is how we did our Thanksgiving 2022, so I am updating this recipe to share. 

Can you freeze cranberry sauce? 

There are many people that freeze cranberry sauce. It is recommended that the sauce be poured into a plastic bag or sealed container. 

What is the best way to mash cranberries for a smoother finish?

Since the mixture is hot once off the stove, if you want less berries and more of a purified sauce, use a potato masher. Once cool, you can use an immersion handheld blender if desired. 

Can you make Orange Juice Cranberry Sauce ahead of time?

Yes, 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 Variations

  1. Cinnamon– A dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or even apple pie spice is a great way to give it some fall flavor.
  2. Maple Syrup or Honey – Cut some of the sugar in the recipe and substitute with honey, maple syrup or brown sugar. This also helps with some of the tartness in the berry. 
  3. Changing the Juice – Orange juice and cranberry go really 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 at the holiday time with great success. 
  4. Zest – Need to serve this recipe up fancy? Add a bit of orange zest on the top of the bowl – adds a bit of color and fanciness. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 174kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 39g

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

Sharing of this recipe is encouraged and appreciated. Copying of full recipe to any social media is prohibited.

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4.84 from 42 votes

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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. Michael Barrett says:

    Making this as I’m leaving my comment! Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving this year! I’ll be checking out some more of your recipes(hopefully I’ll find one for cornbread dressing with cranberries and sausage and nuts)!

    1. I hope you enjoyed! I havent that kind of stuffing but its on my list to get done before next year! I hope you found one. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Honestly, it wasn’t very good.

    1. Amy, I am sorry you didnt enjoy this cranberry sauce. Its a traditional sauce that pairs with fresh cranberries, which some people find bitter. In order to sweeten it up, which some people are used to due to canned cranberries, you can always add a cup of preserves. Another route is instead of OJ, to use a Welches fruit juice. Its hard for me to know what about the recipe you didnt enjoy but I havent had any other negative feedback, so my instinct is that you didnt like the natural taste of the cranberries.

  3. LOVE this recipe. I had never made homemade Cranberry Sauce before now. Thank you Trisha for sharing this one!!

    1. So happy you loved this cranberry sauce.

  4. Candy Wood says:

    Delious! Easy to make.

  5. Ruth Eggert says:

    Hi.I zest the orange…and then proceed as the recipe,but add no sugar….but I also add a small apple and cook that until soft in the orange juice, before adding cranberries…(you can also chop the apple and mic for 1 1/2 min. and then add with cranberries)…I also add a cinnamon stick or you can add powdered cinnamon or even a pinch of clove….then after it is cooked…I add stevia or monk fruit…to sweeten…trying to cut down on sugar…I do freeze some…as it is great with grilled chicken or in a sandwich with turkey or even on toast w/cheese or in yogurt…I buy cranberries when in season…and freeze…and use to make this sauce.. You can also add dried fruit when cooking. cherries or raisins if you like…you can add say 1/2 C. sugar when cooking and then taste when cooked and add more to your liking also….

  6. Wendy Hampton says:

    Holey moley I LOVE this cranberry sauce. I just saw fresh cranberries on the grocery store add, so I am heading out. I LOVE the orange version so much that I haven’t tried it with other fruit juice, but THIS YEAR I’m going to do it.
    This is so good with chicken, turkey, pork and I even eat it as a dessert over ice cream not to mention just by the spoonful! To die for! I have it on Pinterest of course…in several different folders, but I’m glad to come back to the website. Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe!

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      Awesome Wendy! This is the ONLY way I eat cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. I print off my own recipe each year too! Thanks for your lovely comments.

  7. I bought a 2 lb bag of fresh cranberries. How can I adjust the ingredients making this larger batch?

    Thank you

    1. Trisha Haas says:

      You can double this recipe HOWEVER as noted, cranberries rise when they are cooking. So you would need to use a really big dutch oven to ensure you dont have boil over.

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