Recipes » Side Dish Recipes » Easy Cranberry Orange Sauce

Easy Cranberry Orange Sauce

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5 from 1 vote
A must-have for Thanksgiving, my Easy Cranberry Orange Sauce uses 5 simple ingredients and 15 minutes to make the perfect sweet and tart condiment.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cranberry orange sauce in a white serving dish.

A must-have at every Thanksgiving dinner, my Easy Cranberry Orange Sauce beats the pants off any store bought version. All you need is 5 simple ingredients and about 15 minutes to make this perfectly sweet and tart condiment. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make and how much better it tastes than the jellied type.

No Thanksgiving dinner at our home would be complete without a dish of my Easy Cranberry Orange Sauce. Without sounding too immodest, I’m just going to say that this stuff is nothing short of perfect.

Cranberry orange sauce in a white serving dish.

It’s sweet without being cloying and tart without making your mouth pucker. I can’t imagine our annual roasted turkey and southern cornbread dressing being on the table without this sauce at its side.

I grew up like most of you eating the jellied cranberry sauce from a can. But the first time I ever tasted a whole cranberry sauce I left the jellied stuff and never went back. My cranberry sauce takes that old favorite from your holiday table to another level entirely with its additions of orange, cinnamon, and cloves.

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Ingredient Notes

All ingredients needed to make the recipe.
  • Cranberries (You can use fresh or frozen whole cranberries for this recipe. I personally always prefer the Ocean Spray brand and always use fresh. If using frozen, increase the cooking time by about 5 minutes.)
  • Sugar (See the Variations and Substitutions section below for notes on sugar.)
  • Navel Orange (Sweeter than other types of oranges. If a different type is used you may need to increase the sugar.)
  • Whole Cloves and Cinnamon Stick (You can use ground spices but I do prefer whole.)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Cranberry Orange Sauce

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Zest and Juice the Orange

Wooden board with a zester and cup of orange juice.
STEP 1.

STEP 1. Zest and juice the orange. To the juice from the orange, add enough additional orange juice to make one full cup.

COOK’S TIP 
Be sure to remove the zest from the orange before juicing it. It’s really difficult to do it the other way round. I like to use a microplane grater for removing the zest and a reamer for juicing the orange halves.

Cook the Sauce

STEP 2. Rinse the cranberries in a colander. Place cranberries, orange zest and juice, sugar, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan.

STEP 3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the cranberries are softened and the mixture has thickened.

COOK’S TIP 
As the cranberries heat up, they’ll start to pop. This is normal and expected!

Let it Cool

Cooled cranberry sauce in a white dish.
STEP 4.

STEP 4. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove the cinnamon stick (and the cloves if you can find them) before serving.

Cranberry orange relish on a plate with turkey and stuffing.

Serving Suggestions

Besides the obvious, there are lots of other ways to use this delicious sauce. Try one or more of these suggestions.

  • Stir a few spoonsful of leftover cranberry sauce into your morning oatmeal.
  • Create an easy and elegant dessert with a scoop of vanilla (or chocolate!) ice cream and some of the cranberry sauce lightly warmed and spooned over.
  • Place a block of softened cream cheese on a serving plate. Spoon the homemade cranberry sauce over the cream cheese and serve with your favorite crackers.
  • Add it to your obligatory turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Use it as a cheesecake topping.
  • Serve it with pancakes and whipped cream.
  • It’s also delicious served with chicken, ham or pork chops.

Variations and Substitutions

  • To use ground spices instead of whole, substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.
  • Try adding a teaspoon of crushed crystallized ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger).
  • Add 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans.
  • Add 1/4 cup or orange liqueur (use this to make up part of the orange juice in the recipe).
  • Substitute light brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar for the granulated sugar.
  • To make a spicy version, add one (or two) seeded finely diced jalapenos into the pot with the cranberries.

Storage and Make Ahead Info

  • Make Ahead. This recipe is even better if made ahead and the flavors allowed to marry. Make it up to a week in advance and store in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
  • Storage. Store leftover sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
  • Freezing. This recipe freezes very well. Store it in an airtight freezer container and freeze for up to three months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this be made sugar free?

You can use a sugar substitute in this recipe but the result may not be as firm as it will be using sugar.

My sauce tastes bitter. How can I fix it?

Cranberries are very tart and can sometimes be bitter. You can try stirring in a little more orange juice, some apple juice, or some fruity red wine like a red zinfandel or pinot noir. Adding a teaspoon of butter can help, too.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d love for you to give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card and/or in the comments section further down. You can always stay in touch on social media by following me on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest and Sign Up to Get my Newsletter, too!

Recipe

Cranberry orange sauce in a white serving dish.

Easy Cranberry Orange Sauce

A must-have for Thanksgiving, my Easy Cranberry Orange Sauce uses 5 simple ingredients and 15 minutes to make the perfect sweet and tart condiment.
5 from 1 vote
Print It Rate It
Course: Condiments and Extras, Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 84kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries rinsed
  • 1 navel orange
  • Additional orange juice to make 1 cup if needed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves

Instructions

  • Zest and juice the orange. To the orange juice, add enough additional juice to make one full cup if necessary.
  • Rinse the cranberries in a colander.
  • Place cranberries, orange zest and juice, sugar, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the cranberries have softened and the mixture thickens.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.

Notes

Ingredients:
  • Cranberries (You can use fresh or frozen whole cranberries for this recipe. I personally always prefer the Ocean Spray brand and always use fresh. If using frozen, increase the cooking time by about 5 minutes.)
  • Sugar (See the Variations and Substitutions section below for notes on sugar.)
  • Navel Orange (Sweeter than other types of oranges. If a different type is used you may need to increase the sugar.)
  • Whole Cloves and Cinnamon Stick (You can use ground spices but I do prefer whole.)
Tips:
  • Be sure to remove the zest from the orange before juicing it. It’s really difficult to do it the other way round. I like to use a microplane grater for removing the zest and a reamer for juicing the orange halves.
  • As the cranberries heat up, they’ll start to pop. This is normal and expected!
Storage and Make Ahead Info:
  • Make Ahead. This recipe is even better if made ahead and the flavors allowed to marry. Make it up to a week in advance and store in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
  • Storage. Store leftover sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
  • Freezing. This recipe freezes very well. Store it in an airtight freezer container and freeze for up to three months.
Questions:
Can this be made sugar free? You can use a sugar substitute in this recipe but the result may not be as firm as it will be using sugar.
My sauce tastes bitter. How can I fix it? Cranberries are very tart and can sometimes be bitter. You can try stirring in a little more orange juice, some apple juice, or some fruity red wine like a red zinfandel or pinot noir. Adding a teaspoon of butter can help, too.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 84kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 47IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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