30 Minutes or Less/ Holidays/ Meal Prep/ Sides

Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce with Fresh Cranberries

bowl of homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest

Homemade Thanksgiving cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries is flavored with with orange juice and orange zest making it the perfect holiday dish!

It’s the age old debate. Should you serve homemade cranberry sauce for the holidays, or should you serve the stuff from the cans? You know, the cranberry sauce that comes out in the shape of the can, horizontal lines and all.

People tend to have strong opinions about which one should earn a place on the table as a traditional Thanksgiving dinner side.

And the beautiful garnet color makes serving cranberries at Christmas as much a centerpiece as a side dish. 

So….who’s to say you can’t serve both?

Because quite honestly, this recipe is pretty darn simple to make and here’s the real kicker – you can make it a few days in advance.

When it comes to holiday meal planning, why not get a few shortcuts into your mealtime plans?

  • You’ll have fewer dishes the day of your celebration
  • The flavors have a chance to blend, meld, combine – whatever you want to call it
  • You’ll have a chance to enjoy your holiday instead of slaving away like a crazy person in the kitchen. Oh wait – is that just me??!?

WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE

The ingredients to make cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries is actually really quite simple!

You’ll need fresh cranberries, which are readily available in most grocery store (including Aldi!) around the holiday season. You’ll also need an orange, sugar and cinnamon.

Why sugar?

Well, cranberries are pretty tart on their own. I’ve tried making sugar free cranberry sauce and once I was finally able to remove the pucker set in place on my face, I decided to stick with the tried and true cranberry sauce recipe!

HOW TO MAKE CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH FRESH CRANBERRIES

STEP 1

First, wash the fresh cranberries by rinsing in a mesh strainer.

STEP 2

Using a microplane or a grater, grate your orange zest, getting only the peel part of the orange. Don’t add the white pith to your zest or it will add a bitter element.

Once your orange is zested, slice it in half and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup or small bowl.

STEP 3

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, and orange zest. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. 

Once the cranberry mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until cranberries begin to soften and “pop”.

Listen carefully, you’ll actually hear a “popping” noise when the berries burst. This releases pectin, similar to what you’d find in jellies and jams.

This awesome reaction is what will help thicken your sauce as it simmers.

Pretty neat, right?

And since we’re tuning into our kitchen senses, do yourself a favor and take a BIG sniff.

Do you hear that??

It’s the angels singing la, la, LAAAAA! So deliciously fragrant!

I LOVE holiday cooking!

STEP 3

Remove from heat and add orange juice and just a pinch of cinnamon. Cover and chill the cranberry sauce until you’re ready to serve.

HOW MUCH CRANBERRY SAUCE PER PERSON?

Made from scratch cranberry sauce isn’t really a dish you load up on. Holiday stuffing, turkey, corn casserole – those are the big portion items.

A spoonful of cranberry sauce is the perfect complement to tender and juicy Thanksgiving turkey, so a little bit goes a long way.

Is cranberry sauce gluten free?

Yes, cranberry sauce is gluten free!

Quite honestly, this cranberry sauce recipe is pretty darn simple to make and here’s the real kicker – you can make it a few days in advance.

TIPS FOR HOMEMADE CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH FRESH CRANBERRIES

  • Cover it as it sits in the refrigertor so it doesn’t pick up any other smells.
  • It will gel up a little (thank you, natural pectin, so you may wish to put it into your serving dish ahead of time.
  • Make a reminder note that it’s in the fridge for your holiday dinner so you don’t forget to add it to your holiday meal. Trust me on this one…we know things, especially refrigerators and kitchens, tend to get crazy and crowded around the holidays! Take the help where you can get it.
bowl of cranberry sauce with orange zest for the holidays

OTHER HOLIDAY RECIPES YOU’LL ENJOY

Note: I may use referral or affiliate links for the products I love.

I hope you’ll give this a try – our family loves it and I know yours will too!

Made with love,
Deanne

bowl of homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest

Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Thanksiving cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries is flavored with with orange juice and orange zest making it the perfect holiday dish!
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Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 ounce bag of cranberries
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 T. orange juice
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Instructions

  • Wash the fresh cranberries by rinsing in a mesh strainer.
  • Using a microplane or a grater, grate your orange zest, getting only the peel part of the orange. Don't add the white pith to your zest or it will add a bitter element.
    Once your orange is zested, slice it in half and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup or small bowl.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, and orange zest. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. 
  • Once the cranberry mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until cranberries begin to soften and "pop".
  • Remove from heat and add orange juice and a pinch of cinnamon.
  • Cover and chill the cranberry sauce until you're ready to serve.

Notes

Can be made ahead and refrigerated.
Yield: 2. 25 cups
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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Mariam Wassmann
    November 16, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Deanne,
    Like your cranberry sauce recipe. Is the 2.25 cups how many cups it makes? Just checking. Please clarify for me. Thanks!
    Mariam

  • Reply
    55 Gluten Free Thanksgiving Sides to Compliment Your Dinner
    October 28, 2019 at 11:41 am

    […] Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce with Fresh Cranberries by Deanne at This Farm Girl Cooks […]

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