2 Traditional Delightful Cranberry Sauce Recipe—You Must Try

Cranberry sauce is an inevitable side dish for the Thanksgiving spread. The cranberry sauce recipe is a simple procedure, but the outcome is delicious!!

The sour, sweet sauce goes exceptionally well with meat like chicken, goat, goose, deer, and turkey. The perfect recipe does not exist. Every home customizes cranberry sauce recipes to suit their taste buds. And so the recipes are varied. It is effortless, and you can prep in advance for the holiday season.

Photo by Rasa Kasparaviciene on Unsplash

Cranberry is a North American native bitter sour fruit that was traditionally used as a medicinal plant and for fabric dyeing. It is a seasonal fruit, and the plants have a six-week harvest and are ready to yield just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, from September to November.

Cranberries are packed with antioxidants and are known to prevent urinary tract infections, cancer, and kidney stones. Too much cranberry is not good either; it can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Cranberry, as a dye, gives the most beautiful onion peel pink colour to a darker pink shade.

Homemade cranberry sauce is way better and healthier than canned ones. Most canned cranberry sauce contains high fructose corn syrup, an artificial sugar derived from corn syrup which builds up excess fat in one’s liver, and is also linked to diabetes and heart disease.

High fructose is a dangerous addition to human health, a slow death, one might say! Hence it is better to avoid canned stuff and go for homemade cranberry sauce.

1. Basic cranberry sauce recipe


  • 3 cups or a 12-ounce pack of fresh Cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • a pinch of salt

How to make cranberry sauce

First, wash and rinse the cranberries to make cranberry sauce and remove the soft mushy cranberries. Add sugar and water to a saucepan, and dissolve well. Add cranberries and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil; in 5 to 10 minutes, the outer shell of the cranberries starts to pop.

Stir occasionally with a spoon so the cranberry sauce will not scorch at the bottom. Once all or most of the cranberries have popped, remove them from the heat. Put aside for cooling to room temperature.

Once it’s cool, pop it into the refrigerator. One can make any number of changes to this recipe to suit each individual. Remember the sauce thicken as it cools; this recipe gives a thicker version of the cranberry sauce.

If you like a bit more light sauce, you can add more water. However, the flesh of cranberries gives it a jelly texture. So the more water you add, you get cranberry Jelly and not a watery sauce.

Cranberry sauce
Photo by Jessica Merz, on Flickr, Copyright 2022

This cranberry sauce is the basic version and is easy to make. It involves only three essential ingredients sugar, cranberry, and water; the variations in the recipe are vast.

Home cooks from each corner of the world have reinvented their own spicy, sweet, savoury versions with different ingredients. If you like, you can pop in a cinnamon stick along with the mixture.

For a smooth texture, blend the sauce with a hand blender or pass it through a mesh strainer while it’s warm. Or just use a potato masher, which keeps the texture traditional, chunky and saucy! Cranberry sauce thickens as it cools, and blending would be very hard when cooled.

This Cranberry sauce made of 12 ounces of cranberries can readily provide up to 8 servings.

Troubleshooting or fixing a messed-up cranberry sauce

  • A Cranberry sauce recipe is difficult to mess up, and troubleshooting a cranberry sauce is always an easy and simple quick fix.

  • If it’s too thick, add some water or any water-based substitute as mentioned below and put on low heat, simmer for a while, and stir.

  • If you make it too loose, leave it on the stovetop for some more time, and stir well. Cranberries have a natural thickener called pectin. Let the sauce cool down first, and surely it will have a thicker consistency once cool.

  • But as a last resort, one can use cornstarch slurry. The loose sauce situation would be extremely rare. It happens if you tripled or added more than triple the amount of water mentioned in the recipe. Anyway, you can save the side dish for dinner.

  • If it’s too sweet, add some apple cider vinegar, red wine, a splash of lime, pinch of salt, and if nothing works, go for a small quantity of citric acid.

Sugar in Cranberry sauce recipes

Cranberries are highly tart fruit. Hence a lot of sugar is added to balance the taste, making it unhealthy. If you are a health nut and do not appreciate the sugar intake, here are a few tips for you:

  • Start with one or two tablespoons of sugar and give a taste test. Stir in more if you need to. Just make sure to add the sugar before the cranberries pop.
  • Once the cranberries pop, the sauce is done, and there will be no time to dissolve the sugar. Well, if you did run out of time, and your cranberries are already popped, and your sauce is too sour or bitter, go ahead and add some maple syrup to the mixture
  • You can replace white sugar with brown sugar as well.
  • Caramelizing sugar first to a light brown colour and then adding cranberries makes an excellent sauce.
  • Another sugar substitute is honey. For Cranberry recipes with honey, add the cranberries and water to a pan, bring to a boil, and simmer until the cranberry pops. Take off the heat, add honey and mix with a spoon. You will need to add enough honey to sweeten the whole sauce.

Water in Cranberry sauce recipes

  • You can substitute water, partly or entirely, with orange juice, apple juice, as done traditionally, or even pineapple juice. Orange juice mainly gives the sauce a zest.
  • Some add alcohol as a taste enhancer and sometimes are entirely substituted for water. If wholly replaced, it becomes boozy cranberry sauce or drunken cranberry sauce!
  • Commonly used alcohol that pairs well with cranberries is red wine, port, Grand Marnier, in some cases, a teaspoon full of brandy, vodka, bourbon, whiskey, and even tequila.
  • One has to adjust the spice and fruit that pair well with the alcohol.

Spices in Cranberry sauce recipes

Spices in Cranberry sauce recipes
Photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer, on Flickr, Copyright 2022
  • Cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and ground fresh or dry ginger were used traditionally to spice the sauce recipe. Each spice presents a unique flavour.
  • Dry ginger gives a warm peppery sweetness, whereas a cinnamon stick and nutmeg give a sweet hint.
  • Cloves, star anise, allspice, fennel, and cardamom puts up vibrant flavours.
  • If you like a bit of kick, you can go ahead and add a few slices of jalapenos or a single chipotle or a pinch of paprika or pepper at the end.

Fruit in Cranberry sauce recipes

  • diced apples
  • oranges
  • chunks of pineapple
  • granny smith apples
  • pear
  • passion fruit

Other Additions in Cranberry sauce recipes

There are many nontraditional additions to cranberry sauce, different but really tasty.


Butter can be added initially while adding water and sugar. Or, in the end, when the cranberries have popped, turn off the stove add a tablespoon of butter, and stir until it melts.

Vanilla extract

The vanilla extract or a single split vanilla bean gives a unique subtle flavor to the cranberry sauce recipe. The warm notes of vanilla are extremely comforting and go well with desserts.

Hot Sauce

Spice up the cranberry sauce with hot sauce, dijon mustard, adobo sauce, tabasco, or even habanero sauce. The hot sauce balances the tart flavor and adds a kick to the sauce. A teaspoon or half is good enough for 12-ounce cranberries.


Cranberry sauce and toasted nuts are an excellent combination- pecan nuts, walnuts, and pistachios. If you plan to make cranberry sauce well before Thanksgiving and Christmas, hold the nuts.

Add the nuts when you are about to serve. It’s no good to serve soft, soggy nuts. The crunch of toasted nuts and the sweet, sour sauce is the best part.


To make cranberry sauce with onions, Saute onion first with a neutral-tasting oil like canola oil, and follow the basic process. Sauteed onions add a beautiful savoury flavour to the sauce.


Mint leaves
Photo by Anthony Cramp, on Flickr, Copyright 2022

Adding chopped fresh mint gives a fresh cooling taste to the sauce recipe. Again the additions to the cranberry sauce recipe depend on preferences.

Raisins, currants, and blueberries are a few other options.

2. Cranberry Orange relish ( Old fashioned)

This cranberry sauce recipe is a no-cook method. The freshness of oranges and the sour cranberries combined with sugar makes it an excellent mouth-watering relish and is easy to make.

Cranberry relish
Photo by, on Flickr, Copyright 2022


  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3/4 cup Granulated sugar
  • One medium-sized orange
  • Three tablespoon orange juice or Grand Marnier or orange-flavoured liqueur

How to make cranberry relish

Wash and rinse the cranberries. Inspect and discard the rotten ones. Dice the orange with the skin and remove the seeds. Add the cranberries, orange juice, and diced orange to a food processor.

Pulse for a few seconds. We are looking for a chunky puree texture. Mix in half the sugar, give a taste test and add the rest of it. The sugar quantity depends on the cranberry in hand; some are extra tart, and some are a bit sweeter.

Once sugar is mixed in, cover and refrigerate. Some families add the rest of the sugar after the relish has been set. During resting time, the sauce tends to release some sugar. The relish stays fresh for up to three days in the fridge and three months in the freezer.

You can add pecans while serving for a crunch. The traditional recipe does not call for spice. But if you like the flavor, you can add a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon to the food processor. This recipe can be made ahead of time and comes out perfect once set in the fridge.

Some find the bitterness of orange cut up as whole unnerving. To help you make a less bitter version, grated zest of orange and juice the orange. Discard the bitter-white part. The orange juice and orange zest can be mixed into the relish.

The nutrition information on Cranberries

One cup of Cranberries is said to meet 25% of your Vitamin C needs.

Apart from being rich in antioxidants.

This fruit is a good source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin K
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin E
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Vitamin B complex.

Cranberries are hence called a superfood. Because dried cranberries lose most of their vitamins, fresh or frozen cranberries provide the best health benefits. 

Epilogue to Cranberry sauce recipe

  • Double or triple the batch of cranberry sauce and store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  • This advance prep saves you time and marries the flavours in the sauce, making it extra perfect.
  • The sauce can last up to six months in a freezer and should be stored in separate airtight containers.
  • The extra sauce is never too much! Cranberry sauce can be served warm or cold.
  • You can pair them in appetizer recipes, dessert recipes, or simply with leftover turkey after Thanksgiving dinner.

Photo by jeffreyw, on Flickr, Copyright 2022

Delicious ways to use cranberry sauce:

  • To use the cranberry sauce in plain yogurt
  • As an ice cream topping
  • You can reheat and melt the cranberry sauce and add it to ice cream as syrup or just like that add frozen chunks
  • Mix the melted sauce into ice cream, and let it freeze overnight!
  • This sauce is an excellent substitute for jam
  • It goes well with sponge cake, waffles, and pancakes.
  • Another option is to make a pie of it, or if you find the sauce too tart, make mixed berries pie with blueberries and cranberry sauce.
  • Add it to your oatmeal for breakfast and make leftover turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce spread.
  • Spread it on plain buttered toast
  • Melt it into a luscious cheesecake
  • Some have found it goes well on pizza as well.

As far as your imagination can go, the combination and pairing of cranberry sauce are infinite.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • If your cranberry sauce comes out tasting too bitter, don’t reach for the sugar. Granulated sugar might make the situation worse, especially if you don’t have time to reheat the sauce so the sugar can dissolve properly. Instead, reach for another sweetener: maple syrup.
  • Cranberry sauce contains plenty of antioxidants that will help fight off free radicals that try to harm the body. Having regular servings of the stuff, not just on Thanksgiving, can help fight heart disease and worse.
  • You know you’re done when the pectin in the cranberries thickens the sauce to a thick, jam-like consistency (remember that it will thicken more as it cools).18-Nov-2014



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