This classic Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce recipe is super easy, fresh, homemade, and the very best! Made from whole cranberries, water, and sugar, it's simple and perfect to serve at a holiday meal. Done in less than 20 minutes, this recipe can be made ahead of time or served warm.
We love Cranberry Sauce all winter, but it's especially popular for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holiday meals. It's the perfect side and no Thanksgiving is complete without it!
This pairs great with our Roasted Maple Brussels Sprouts and Paula Deen Sweet Potato Casserole, Paula Deen Green Bean Casserole, or our creamed corn at a holiday meal. And if you're a cranberry lover like me, we HIGHLY recommend our Cranberry Cheesecake or Sweet Potato Pie for dessert.
What I Love About This Recipe
I absolutely love the simplicity of this homemade fresh cranberry sauce recipe. Everyone raves about how amazing it is, yet it's so easy and simple to make! I also love how it's naturally gluten free, dairy free and vegan so most can enjoy it! It's also easy to dress up and try different things with. See our variations below for directions on how to make it with orange, jalapeño, orange juice, spiced, and even a low sugar option and more!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Quick and Easy - this recipe is quick and easy to make! It only requires a few ingredients and is very low effort.
- Make Ahead - this a GREAT recipe to make ahead of the holiday to free up your time the day of! Simply make it, allow it to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to 5 days before serving.
- Variations - there are a lot of fun variations (see the list below) you can do with this recipe. Have anything from a basic cranberry sauce to a spicy or citrusy one!
- Perfect side to take - it's the perfect side to take somewhere. Since you can make it ahead, it keeps well. It doesn't need to be served hot and fresh and is easily transportable.
- Kid Friendly - want kids to start helping with the big meal? Let them make this one! If they are older they can make it by themselves or younger kids can just help.
- Ocean Spray fresh whole cranberries- found in the refrigerated produce section of most grocery stores. Other brands are fine too. You can use fresh or frozen.
- water- I used regular tap water but you can use filtered, distilled, bottled or spring water if you desire.
- sugar - this recipe is made with regular granulated white sugar.
See recipe card for quantities.
1. Rinse cranberries and pick out any that are yucky. Place water and sugar in a saucepan. Place on medium heat.
2. When the sugar is dissolved, add the cranberries and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until all or most of the berries are popped, about 10-12 minutes. As they start to pop (about 8 minutes in) start pushing the berries against the side of the pan to pop them.
4. It may be foamy, which is fine. Remove from heat and stir for about a minute. Allow to cool, then refrigerate or serve immediately (can also serve hot).
Hint: The sauce will thicken as it cools. It is quite runny while hot. It can be served hot or cold. I like to make it about 50-60 minutes before dinner, so that it has about 30-40 minutes to cool down to about room temperature and thicken up.
- Orange Juice - substitute ½-1 cup of the water with orange juice for that yummy cranberry orange flavor.
- Maple Syrup - use 1 cup maple syrup for a granulated sugar free version that has a nice maple flavor. Reduce water to ⅔ cup.
- Keto- check out this sugar free keto cranberry sauce if you are on a low/no sugar diet.
- Low Sugar - reduce sugar to ½ cup. Also reduce water to ⅔ cup. It will be very tart!
- Jalapeño - this is my absolute favorite way to eat this! Finely chop up ½ jalapeño (with seeds for extra spice). You can put it in with the berries to boil, or add later.
- Spiced- when adding the cranberries, add ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon all spice, ⅛ teaspoon ginger and ⅛ teaspoon cloves.
- Orange zest- add the zest of one orange at the same time as adding the cranberries. For another fun one, try adding the spices from the "spiced" option above too!
- Apple- finely chop 1 granny smith apple and add it and ½ teaspoon cinnamon at the same time as the cranberries.
- Pineapple- Add 1 cup of chopped pineapple (fresh or canned) at the same time as the cranberries, and substitute half of the water for orange juice. Some also like to add ½ chopped banana, but we have not tried that variation!
What to do with leftovers
This is actually one of my favorite questions! We love Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce so much and I always make extra to ensure leftovers because they are so yummy! Here are things that we love to do:
- dip- put the leftover sauce on a brick of cream cheese for the easiest and tastiest cracker dip! I love adding finely minced jalapeño to it for some extra flavor.
- sandwich - we love to make leftover turkey (or ham) sandwiches and add on cranberry sauce. It's SO yummy!
- cheesecake - make our insanely delicious Cranberry Cheesecake
- meatballs- make these yummy Cranberry Sauce Meatballs.
- muffins - try these yummy Muffins with your leftovers.
You need only 2 simple tools to make this recipe!
- wooden spoon or spatula
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, because of the sugar content of the sauce, it takes a long time to go bad and will crystalize before going bad. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.
The cranberries have natural pectin in them, which acts as a thickener. Don't worry if your sauce seems runny, it will thicken as it cools.
Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce
- 1 saucepan
- 1 spatula or wooden spoon
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 12 ounce cranberries fresh or frozen, whole
- Place water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally. Once sugar is dissolved, add cranberries and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until all or most of the cranberries have popped. Around minute 8, once they start popping, help them pop by pressing them against the side of the pan. See pictures above to check out the texture and what is should look like.
- Remove from heat and serve warm or allow to cool. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months
- See above for a lot of fun variations and ways to make it!
Serve in a crystal bowl or dish with a nice spoon.
Simply combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Once sugar dissolves, add the cranberries. Simmer for 10 minutes until berries start to burst. Allow to cool and serve.
Yes! Freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Place it on a brick of cream cheese for cracker dip, add to turkey sandwiches, make meatballs, muffins or cheesecake!
it lasts 10-14 days in the refrigerator. Due to the high sugar content, it will likely crystalize or become a weird texture before going bad.
Cranberries are naturally high in pectin, which is a natural thickener. If you like your sauce thicker, add 1 Tablespoon corn starch to the cold water before beginning the recipe.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove