Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

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This homemade cranberry sauce is easy to make and perfect for your holiday table!

This is hands down, the BEST cranberry sauce recipe ever. I mean it really puts the store-bought stuff with refined sugar to shame. I’m so excited to share this recipe with you! And did I mention it’s easy to make? Yep! It’s an “all-in-one-pot” recipe. So grab that pot, and let’s get started.

A spoon lifts a helping of this Homemade Cranberry Sauce out of the serving bowl.

Find All My Thanksgiving Recipes Here!

If you are making Thanksgiving dinner this year or need to take a dish to bring to somebody else’s house, this is it. It’s the perfect Thanksgiving recipe because it’s easy to make and easy to transport if needed. It’s right up there with sweet potato casserole!

How To Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Making cranberry sauce is a very simple process. Pretty much anybody could do it! All you do is put all your ingredients into a pot, and cook over low-medium heat (a low simmer) until the entire thing reduces in size by about half. It will be slightly thickened but will do most of its thickening as it cools. Put it in a serving dish (you can cool it in your serving dish if that’s easier) and serve! It’s tasty, easy and you can make it several days ahead of time to save you some work on the actual holiday!

How Long Does Homemade Cranberry Sauce Last?

Homemade cranberry sauce lasts for about two weeks in the fridge. That being said, I’ve had some batches last for nearly a month or more. I think the honey does a good job at working as a preservative here. But to be on the safe said, toss it after two weeks.

Can You Freeze Homemade Cranberry Sauce?

Absolutely!! Cranberry sauce freezes well for up to 6 months. Make sure you pack it well though. It needs an air-tight, food-safe container.

How To Thicken Homemade Cranberry Sauce

If you’ve made your sauce, cooled it, and realized that it’s still not as thick as you’d like it to be, simply return it to a pot and cook any liquid down a bit more. Some folks have added a teaspoon or so of cornstarch or arrowroot powder. But I find that that alters the cranberry sauce in a way that is slightly unpleasant. So it’s best to stick to cooking the liquid out further.

A bowl of this Homemade Cranberry Sauce sits on an orange cloth. It is garnished with orange peel.

There are so many uses for this sauce! So don’t fret if you have leftovers. In fact, I often make a double or triple batch just so we’ll have leftovers.

How To Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

  • Freeze up to 6 months
  • Use in place of mayo on a turkey sandwiches with leftover turkey
  • Stir it into your morning oatmeal
  • Make a Thanksgiving parfait
  • Put a little over some vanilla ice cream
  • Use it as filling for homemade pop tarts
  • Spread over pancakes and waffles
  • Make a cranberry grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar cheese
  • Spread over your morning toast with a little bit of cream cheese

Why No Orange Juice?

It may seem counterintuitive to avoid adding the orange juice. I mean, there are plenty of recipes that call for it. The truth is, you can add it if you don’t want the orange to go to waste. But oddly enough, I have found that adding the juice reduces the overall orange flavor and subdues the tang a bit, which is why I only call for the zest.

Ingredient Checklist

(Scroll down to recipe card to print recipe)

12 oz. fresh cranberries – Approximately 3 1/4 cups.

1/2 cup honey – Or pure maple syrup

1 medium cinnamon stick

1 large orange – just for the fresh zest.

1 cup water – Use filtered water of some kind for the best flavor.

How To Make Easy Cranberry Sauce

A white bowl filled with fresh cranberries.

Collect all your ingredients and your pot. Put the cranberries into the pot and zest your orange.

Fresh cranberries in a pot with orange zest sprinkled on top.

Add the orange zest.

A cinnamon stick in a pot full of fresh cranberries and orange zest.

Add the cinnamon stick.

Pouring honey into a pot filled with fresh cranberries, orange zest and a cinnamon stick.

Add the honey.

Pouring water into a pot filled with fresh cranberries, orange zest, honey and a cinnamon stick.

Add the water to the pot.

Simmering a pot filled with fresh cranberries, orange zest, honey, a cinnamon stick and water.

Turn your stove on. Phew! That was tough, wasn’t it? Seriously, that’s pretty much it. Cook over medium-high heat for about 30-45 minutes. When most of the liquid is cooked out, turn your stove down to a simmer. The longer you let this simmer, the thicker the sauce will get. Just don’t let ALL the liquid cook out or it will burn. Stir more frequently near the end.

A silver serving dish filled with homemade cranberry sauce.

Allow this to cool before you eat some. Trust me. I learned the hard way. It really burns right out of the pot! (I have no patience when it comes to good food!) Then transfer to a serving dish. Serve and enjoy!

How To Store Cranberry Sauce

Store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Copyright Information For The Gracious Pantry
This Homemade Cranberry Sauce is being served in a bowl. Looking from the top down, you can see all the cooked, bright red cranberries, the cinnamon stick and the orange peel garnish. It's ready to eat!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This delicious cranberry sauce will be on your holiday table for years to come!
3 from 2 votes
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Course: Fruit, Sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 5 servings (1 1/4 cup yield – 1/4 cup serving)
Calories: 152kcal
Author: Tiffany McCauley


  • A sauce pot


  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries (approx. 3 1/4 cups)
  • ½ cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1 medium cinnamon stick
  • 1 large orange (just for zest)
  • 1 cup water


  • Collect all your ingredients and your pot. Put the cranberries into the pot and zest your orange.
    Step one of this Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe
  • Add the orange zest.
    Step 2 is to add the zest.
  • Add the cinnamon stick.
    Step 3 is to add the cinnamon stick.
  • Add the honey.
    Step four of this Homemade Cranberry Sauce is to add the honey.
  • Add the water to the pot.
    Step five is to add the water.
  • Turn your stove on. Phew! That was tough, wasn't it? Seriously, that's pretty much it. Cook over a medium-high heat for about 30-45 minutes. When most of the liquid is cooked out, turn your stove down to a simmer. The longer you let this simmer, the thicker the sauce will get. Just don't let ALL the liquid cook out or it will burn. Stir more frequently near the end.
    Step 6 is to cook it until it has thickened and reduced in size by about half or more.
  • Allow this to cool before you eat some. Trust me. I learned the hard way. It really burns right out of the pot! (I have no patience when it comes to good food!) Then transfer to a serving dish.
    Homemade Cranberry Sauce in a serving dish.
  • Serve and enjoy!
    And lastly, serve and enjoy!


Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Calories: 152kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 142mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 125IU | Vitamin C: 28.8mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.3mg

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  1. What’s the scoop on agave syrup? I googled it and got some conflicting info. It seems to be high in fructose, low in glucose. My understanding is that honey is as well. Now 30-35 years ago honey was being hyped as good for diabetics to eat because of the fructose/glucose ratio. But high fructose corn syrup has turned out to be a really bad thing for those of us at risk for metabolic syndrome/pre-diabetes/type 2 diabetes. So how is this different?

    1. Hi Jodi,

      Agave is definitely a clean food like honey. What I like about agave is that it is low on the glycemic index. Which means it has far less of an impact on the blood sugar than honey. I’ve also found that it has less of everything else too. Fat, carbs, and calories. While I do still use honey on occasion, I find that agave does everything I need it to do without causing my blood sugar to spike badly.

      That said, you still have to eat it in moderation.

      Hope that helps,

  2. I wonder how it would be if you just skipped adding any sweetener and used the juice and pulp from that orange you just zested.
    I also wonder if it would work instead of the canned stuff in the tomatoless catsup I make for the big man of the house. I cut the sugar way back from the recipe I found online and left out the corn syrup altogether. But there is still quite a bit in the brand cranberry jelly. Seems to me the nearer things are to the way God made them, the better they are for us.
    I guess I need to do more research. I’m still not convinced any other sweetener is better for us than minimally processed organic sugar in moderation, of course.

    1. Agave is a natural sweetener. It’s taken from the agave plant.

      I tried making it without the agave and it was just to tart for my tastes. But you could certainly try it. Maybe if you used frozen concentrate instead of prepared juice?

      Let me know how it turns out for you!


  3. Hi ~ thank you so much for getting me the link and ofcourse sharing yet another awesome recipe with us!!! You ROCK! One quick question ~ do I have to used distilled water? Thanks again =o) Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Dawn – Use the best and cleanest water you have. Distilled just happens to be the type of water I use. Enjoy!

  4. Made this on Thanksgiving and also a traditional full of sugar one. I told my family the difference between the two and almost no one wanted to try the one without refined sugar. I made it again on Christmas but did not say a word about using agave instead of sugar and it was GONE. Everyone loved it. From now on I will cook the way I want to and not let them know it is actually good for them.

    1. Leah – LOL. Yes, sometimes that’s the only way to do what’s best for them. I’m happy you liked the recipe!

  5. How long do you think this would keep for. I would like to make it a day or two ahead of time. It should be ok… right?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Emily – Definitely!

  6. Thank you for the ratio of agave. I was needing to know that. Also I really love using the orange juice from the orange I have zested, do you think I should lower the agave? I also add a few cloves, star anise, and a cardamom pod.

    1. Anonymous says:

      PRowton – If you lower the agave, I would only do so by about 1 tbsp. Enjoy!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Blakleigh – You can! Just keep in mind that maple syrup may not have the intensity of sweetness that honey or agave will have. So you may end up needing to stir in a bit more to compensate. But it should work just fine. Enjoy!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Erin – Fantastic! I’m so happy you enjoyed it! I’ll be making a batch myself tomorrow. Yum!

  9. graciouspantry says:

    Yes. Definitely in the fridge. Just put it in jars first and put a towel down on the fridge shelf. They’ll be hot. You can wait till they cool a bit first before putting them in the fridge if they are too hot to touch.

  10. Amanda Black says:

    I would love to make this for Thanksgiving this year, as my husband loves cranberry sauce- but he will insist that he will only eat the smooth canned kind! ๐Ÿ˜› Is there anyway to make it smooth? strain it? I’m afraid he won’t try it!

    1. graciouspantry says:

      Try putting it through the blender. It might not be completely smooth, but you should be able to get it pretty close. Try a batch ahead of time and ask him what he thinks.

    2. Kellie E. says:

      This is my absolute favorite recipe! I strain it through a fine mesh strainer. It takes a little time, and I use a spoon to kind of push it through, but it works beautifully. And, my “gotta have it smooth” family loves it!

  11. Is the agave the same ratio as the honey?

  12. graciouspantry says:

    I didn’t. And if you do, I would blend it AFTER cooking. Not before.

    1. Amanda Black says:

      Update: I blended it after cooking, and after it cooled off a bit. ย It turned into a applesauce-like texture before it cooled, and after a night in the refrigerator- it was a perfect jelly ๐Ÿ™‚ <3 thanks for the tip! It turned out delicious! Though I did a 1/2 cup of honey and an additional 1/4 c of maple syrup ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

      1. graciouspantry says:

        Yay! So glad it worked out!

  13. Tina Aiello Sturgis says:

    i dont have a cinnamon stick..do you think I could just use like 1 tsp of cinnamon?

    1. graciouspantry says:

      I would only do 1/2 tsp. Otherwise, you’ll get a grainier texture.

  14. Amanda Cheasty says:

    Do you have to use distilled water?

    1. graciouspantry says:

      No. Any water is fine.

  15. Very quick and easy recipe. I never really tried cranberry sauce before we made this except for store bought ones that were much sweeter because of all the white sugar and junk they put in it, yuck! So we tried this out and it was good. Tart, but the honey gave just enough sweetness. Tastes really good on turkey, thanks for sharing

  16. I wish I had this recipe for Thanksgiving Dinner, this would have been a help but I will have it for Christmas Dinner, another recipe for keeps!

  17. Does anyone know anything about coconut sugar. I was told it was a healthy alternative and tasted like brown sugar?

  18. Thank you SO MUCH for this recipe!!! My 5 year old Grandson LOVES Cranberry Sauce, and asks for it every time he’s here. I cringe when I buy a can because of it’s ingredients. Will bake him a batch to have when he gets here tomorrow. Thanks again!

  19. Back again lol. Seems I fall back to your site for everything and well as the holidays are coming it seems I visit quite often. If I wanted to make a big batch to can could I make it in the crockpot? Although I know you’ve said you don’t have a plether of canning information, Would you consider this a cannable recipe?

    1. Lexie – I would not consider any of my recipes as canning recipes. None of them have been tested as such. But this does freeze well if that helps. You could try the slow cooker, but I’m not sure it would fair well. The water needs to reduce and that’s difficult in a slow cooker.

  20. Our family has a similar recipe that includes pineapple and pecans. Canned pineapple jells well and adds sweetness to help balance the tartness. And we love chopped pecans in it!

  21. Lindsey @ DishingUpHope says:

    Love this and your site! It is making Thanksgiving planning much easier. Thank you!

  22. I just made this for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Is it to be served chilled?

    1. Chrystal – Either way. You can serve it warm or cold. I typically serve it cold just because that’s what I’m used to.

  23. Just made this for Thanksgiving. It is soooo good! Thank you

  24. I, for the life of me could not find cinnamon sticks. Can I use powder cinnamon instead and if so how much? Thanks!

  25. This recipe looks delicious! One thing though, I’m not sure why there was discussion of agave syrup; I only see honey or maple syrup in the ingredients list. Should I add some agave syrup as well?