How to make homemade Thanksgiving cranberry sauce
| |

Thanksgiving’s Best Cranberry Sauce


Affiliate disclosure: Sweet Humble Home is a participant in Amazon's affiliate program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This is no extra cost to readers.


This recipe for Thanksgiving’s Best Cranberry Sauce is one of the easiest Thanksgiving recipes you’ll ever make.  Who knew that fresh cranberry sauce would be such an easy alternative to canned cranberry sauce! Homemade cranberry sauce is a comfort food that you’ll look forward to every year.

As soon as the weather turns just a little chillier, and talk of the holidays starts to fill my Pinterest feed, I’m all about getting on that bandwagon and prepping for the holidays.  I’m one of those people that likes to plan out every aspect of my holiday in advance.  The same person that strolls the aisles of Hobby Lobby WAY in advance of holiday time, and tests Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes all year long. In fact, if you’re looking for the perfect holiday companion – if you are entertaining or your not, my e-book Holiday Sips is the perfect way to help you celebrate! It pairs appetizers and holiday cocktails for you! Check it out! Now, let’s get on to learning about Thanksgiving’s Best Cranberry Sauce.

How did cranberry sauce become a Thanksgiving staple? The history of cranberry sauce:

If you’d like to learn a little about the how having cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving came to be you can do so on Martha Stewart’s site where she can tell you much better than I! I didn’t even think about the history of cranberry sauce until I came across her article. Cranberry sauce is a staple for most Thanksgiving tables throughout America, and one that my Thanksgiving meal would never be without.  Martha’s article also sheds some light on how canned cranberry sauce became a tradition over fresh.  It’s not only perfect on Thanksgiving day, but on the days to follow.  It’s part of every post-Thanksgiving day sandwich I make, on the side of turkey croquettes, and anywhere else I can fit it in.  I’m a cranberry sauce lover through and through, and I’m hoping that my recipe will make you one as well!

How to make homemade cranberry sauce

Thanksgiving’s Best Cranberry Sauce is super easy!

For some reason people tend to get overwhelmed with the thought of making homemade cranberry sauce.  I remember when I was as well!  We ALWAYS had the Ocean Spray cranberry sauce out of can at Thanksgiving growing up – and I loved it.  I did. The big, solid jelly like roll that plopped onto the pretty crystal dish my mom would serve it on. (I know you can hear that sound right now while reading this, lol).  My intention was never to change what was served, until I was asked to bring whole berry cranberry sauce to a Thanksgiving celebration.  There was no time like the present to see what I could do, and after a few attempts at developing the perfect recipe – I was hooked.

My  recipe includes:

  • orange juice
  • fresh cranberries
  • ground cinnamon
  • sugar
  • nutmeg
  • LOTS orange zest. 

The list of delicious ingredients are amazing when put together, and basically, you biggest task is to stir over a medium heat. On top of turkey – my goodness.  What a treat.

I love it when you start to hear the cranberries popping in the pot.  Once you dissolve your sugar in your orange juice – you add the cranberries and slowly cook it! When you realize that all it takes to make homemade cranberry sauce is a few simple steps, you probably won’t go back. Making cranberry sauce is so easy. (And I’ll never, ever, ever admit that I have a can of the jellied stuff in my pantry.  Not ever. 🙂

VIDEO – Thanksgiving’s Best Cranberry Sauce – Sweet Humble Home

There really are only two rules to making sure your cranberry sauce is good.

  • Rule 1: When you zest the orange, make sure you only get the orange zest, none of the pith.  The pith will make your sauce sour. (In case you don’t know – the pith is the white part)
  • Rule 2: Cook the sauce slowly so not to burn it. I know you’ll be tempted to just let it rip, but don’t let it happen. The sauce needs time to develop flavors.

Thanksgiving's Best Cranberry Sauce - Sweet Humble Home

Go ahead and make it ahead!

Cranberry sauce is a side dish tastes best the day after it’s made, so go ahead and prep early.  You can actually make cranberry sauce several days early if you’d like. It’s never a task that I leave until Thanksgiving day. After it has cooled,  just place the sauce in a pretty dish, cover it up and you’re all set for Thanksgiving.  Also, take a look at these make-ahead holiday side dishes that I’ve included in a blogger roundup – you’ll love so many of them! The holidays are always less overwhelming the more prep you do. In fact, that would be the biggest piece of holiday entertaining advice I have for you – prep ahead of time.  

In fact, think about sharing it!  Make the cranberry sauce, place it in a mason jar, and attach the recipe to give to your hostess.  Just make sure your hostess knows that it needs to be refrigerated.  She’ll be happy that you took a task off of her shoulders when feeding her family this holiday season!


Here’s a hint – make two!

The first year I made this I learned an important lesson.  You can’t put just one bowl of this stuff on the table, however.  It’s important that you have one at each end, and perhaps a third for backup, so usually I double, if not triple the recipe.  If you need to use leftover cranberries you can make this Christmas Cranberry Nut Pie – good any time of the year!

They’re going to love it. I love it so much that I not only make two for Thanksgiving dinner, I also make a third.  For day after Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.  What would a leftover sandwich be without cranberry sauce? You can even enjoy warmed cranberry sauce on top of some cinnamon swirl pancakes or pecan french toast.  

Do yourself a favor and add this recipe to your recipe box.  You won’t be sorry. After serving it this Thanksgiving, you’ll be asked to make it again! And guess what? I won’t tell.  You can tell your guests you just “thought it up” on your own.  Nobody needs to know.

How do you make Thanksgiving cranberry sauce?

Thanksgiving's Best Cranberry Sauce - Sweet Humble Home

Thanksgiving's Best Cranberry Sauce

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This cranberry sauce recipe will stop all of the searching for others. It's simple, it's delicious, and I'm hopeful that you'll add it to your families Thanksgiving recipe box.


  • 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • Zest of 2 medium sized oranges
  • Pinch of salt


  1. In a pan set to medium high combine water, orange juice, and sugar
  2. Bring ingredients to a slow simmer. This will combine your ingredients.
  3. Once the sugar is dissolved, add your cranberries, orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Lower your temperature to low.;The cranberries will start to pop.
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally.;Let cool and store in the fridge.
  6. Take out 1/2 hour prior to serving.


Cranberry sauce is best served at room temperature.


Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 136Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 22mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 3gSugar: 30gProtein: 1g
If you are searching for other fun holiday ideas take a look at these posts – all about Thanksgiving and how to make hosting it a breeze:

How To Host a Stress Free Thanksgiving in 5 Steps

10 Thanksgiving Kitchen Essentials

12 Top Thanksgiving Tablescape Ideas

Thanksgiving Turkey Compound Butter

Easy Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Enjoy your holidays, and let me know how your cranberry sauce turns out! 







Similar Posts


  1. After years of Ocean Spray cranberry ‘sauce’ I am going to try to make it this year! Thank you for posting such a simple recipe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *