The Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

by Nov 23, 2020Recipes

The simplest way to bring a taste of New England to your Thanksgiving table is by making best homemade cranberry sauce recipe.

This cranberry sauce recipe will have you leaving canned cranberry sauce and its unsightly rings behind. Just like your ex.

Cranberry sauce and I have had a difficult relationship. I place this squarely on the that stuff far too many of us get out of a can.

I never liked this Thanksgiving staple growing up. Everything about it seemed bland. A bland product with bland texture, which is so uninspiring, that no one would bother to serve it in a way to hide the fact it comes from a can.

Just looking at canned cranberry sauce was always off-putting. Even up close with its odd matte texture, it looks like someone made red Jell-O with toothpaste.

And the shape. Oh gosh. On such a wholesome holiday like Thanksgiving, no dish should be served with the scars left behind from the packaging it came from.

I know this is an unpopular opinion with some. However, I think this homemade cranberry sauce recipe will please even the biggest fans of the canned stuff and change the minds of skeptics of the dish in general.

Speaking from experience, eating this cranberry sauce recipe for the first time was a real revelation. Now, its one of my favorite Thanksgiving sides.

Homemade cranberry sauce is vibrant in color, deliciously tart. and will have you skipping the canned stuff and going back for seconds.

It is hassle-free to make and requires less effort than making mac and cheese from a box.

There’s no peculiar jam or jelly making ingredients needed. Just cranberries, water, sugar, and orange if you like. The jelly-consistency comes from the pectin inside the berries.

Did I mention it’s entirely vegan, for my plant-based friends out there?

It is seriously the easiest Thanksgiving dish.

Of course, this recipe is featuring Cape Cod’s own Ocean Spray Cranberries! I am not sponsored by Ocean Spray (although, if you’re reading this Ocean Spray, my email is so you are under no pressure from me to use anything but the highest quality cranberries you can find.

This recipe is adapted from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe from his The Food Lab column in Serious Eats. It will make 4 servings (or 2-3 big Thanksgiving-during-COVID19-sized helpings).

Here’s the Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe


  • 1 (12 ounce) bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 juice of one orange or 1/4 cup orange juice or 1/4 cup triple sec (optional)
  • 2 (1 inch) strips of orange zest (optional)
  1. Rinse cranberries to remove loose dust and dirt.

2. Combine cranberries, water, sugar, salt, orange juice, and zest (if using) in medium sauce pan. Bring to low simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

IMPORTANT: Be extra careful while cooking with sugar on the stove as it easily burns and boils over.

3. Once the mixture reaches a gentle simmer, begin stirring more frequently. The cranberries will begin to pop in the pan and the sauce will naturally thicken. You may crush the cranberries on the sides of the pan with your spoon as needed.

4. Simmer until sauce has reached your desired consistency, about 10 minutes. Add water, a few tablespoons at a time, if needed.

5. Let cool for about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long) before serving.

6. Enjoy the sweetest part of the Thanksgiving feast!

Finsihed cranberry sauce - best cranberry sauce recipe

And that’s it! Simple, right? I hope this cranberry sauce recipe becomes a part of your Thanksgiving tradition for years to come.

As I mentioned, there is some room for customization. Swap out some of the sugar for some Vermont maple syrup and give it even more New England flair. Add a cinnamon stick to the simmer for some extra holiday warmth to contrast the tart cranberry and bring out the citrus.

Definitely share your photos, tips, and customizations with me in the comments or on social media!

As well, what do you think of The Wicked Weekend’s first recipe? Would you like to see more content like this?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Latest Blog Posts

Bounty by the Sea: Rhode Island Summer Travel at the Farm Coast

Bounty by the Sea: Rhode Island Summer Travel at the Farm Coast

A Quaint and Hidden Summer Getaway that Showcases the Best New England Has to Offer Just a 30-minute drive from Providence brings you coastline, farms, a thriving arts community, vintage shops, restaurants, vineyards, Native American and colonial history, and even a...

Spring in Boston Playlist: Tunes for Spring

Spring in Boston Playlist: Tunes for Spring

Inspired by the warm rush of spring days and green returning to the landscape, I've put together a Spring in Boston playlist. It's an eclectic mix of upbeat and nostalgic indie pop as well as 80's alternative which perfectly call back to those first days when it's...


Pin It on Pinterest