This delicious and super easy homemade cranberry sauce recipe has only 3 ingredients and is ready in just 20 minutes with no prep time at all.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- This homemade cranberry sauce is SUPER easy and QUICK to make, you’ll wonder why you ever bought that stuff in jars again.
- The taste, there are no chemicals or additives in this simple cranberry sauce, you know exactly what’s in there
- There are only 3 ingredients in my cranberry sauce recipe, so you just can’t go wrong.
This is my Mum’s recipe for cranberry sauce or Christmas sauce as it was always called in our house. Mum was a good but basic cook who had little truck with fancy additives so her cranberry sauce recipe had only 3 ingredients and all came together within 20 minutes start to finish.
I love using cranberries and you’ll find everything from cranberry gin liqueur to cranberry and apricot relish, cranberry salsa with festive crisps and lots more.
What is cranberry sauce?
Cranberry sauce is a classic sauce that comes out every year with the turkey dinner at Christmas or Thanksgiving. You can buy it in jars and in the USA you can even buy canned cranberry sauce.
Cranberries are native to North America and it is known that the Native American Indians used them for both food and in the dying of their clothing.
It is very possible that some sort of sauce made with cranberries would have been served at those first Thanksgiving dinners.
Recipes for cranberry sauce go way back to 1796 at least when it was included in what’s thought to be the first cookbook by an American author – The Art of Cookery by Amelia Simmons.
Turkey is also eaten at Thanksgiving, as it is in the UK at Christmas, and it’s likely this connection is the inspiration for cranberry sauce making the move to festive dinners this side of the Atlantic.
Cranberry sauce in the UK
Cranberry sauce wasn’t really part of the British Christmas dinner till the end of the 20th century and it was pretty rare then. It was only in the 21st century that it really gained popularity and became a national favourite right up there with our traditional bread sauce on the Christmas dinner table.
A lot of this could be due in part to good old Delia Smith whose book and TV series in 1994 – Delia Smith’s Christmas shared a recipe for cranberry sauce. Delia was known back then to be able to sell out the entire country’s supply of white eggs just by using them in one of her recipes.
Why do we serve cranberry sauce with turkey?
Turkey is a very low-fat meat, it fact it is almost fat-free which means that is prone to dryness. Cranberry sauce adds moisture to the turkey when served alongside the meat. The tartness of the cranberries helps to bring out the flavour of the turkey meat itself.
Ingredients for basic cranberry sauce
This is a simple cranberry sauce recipe so I am only using 3 ingredients to let those cranberries really sing!
Cranberries * Orange juice * Sugar
Can you use frozen cranberries?
Yes, you can use either fresh or frozen cranberries to make this simple homemade traditional cranberry sauce recipe.
If you don’t have a fresh orange to hand you can simply use some fresh orange juice to make your cranberry sauce.
Want to add some spice to your sauce? Then feel free to add some cinnamon, cloves or ginger to this classic cranberry sauce to jazz things up a bit.
The best herb to add to cranberry sauce is rosemary which is very festive. But always err on the side of caution when using rosemary as it is very strong.
The complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making this recipe can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
How to make your own cranberry sauce
This is one of the easiest recipes ever. All you have to do is put the cranberries (frozen or fresh) in a small pan along with the sugar plus the zest and juice of the orange.
Now heat gently for a couple of minutes till that sugar has completely dissolved then raise the heat to a boil for a minute then bring it down a wee bit so the sauce is just gently bubbling.
Leave it for about 10 minutes then spoon out some of the cranberries and put them aside on a saucer while the cranberry sauce cooks for a further 10 minutes.
Squish down the sauce with a potato masher or fork then add in those saved cranberries that are still whole and a little firm as they aren’t cooked till squishy.
That’s it, you now have the most delicious homemade cranberry sauce to serve alongside your festive turkey.
Want a smoother sauce?
If you lilke that cranberry sauce you get in jars that is totally smooth then simply keep all the cranberries in the pan for the full 20 minutes cooking time. Then use a stick blender to get in there and whizz up a smooth and creamy cranberry sauce.
What can you do with cranberry sauce?
Don’t just think of your homemade cranberry sauce as something that only comes out with the turkey at Christmas.
You can serve cranberry sauce on toast or scones for a sweet yet tart topping.
Use your cranberry sauce as a glaze when roasting meats like chicken, turkey or duck.
Serve it with those gorgeous healthy homemade turkey burgers that I made here on Larder Love earlier this year.
Stir some cranberry sauce into Asian dishes for that sweet/sour fruity flavour.
Add a dash of booze to your cranberry sauce (brandy or whisky is good) and use it as a topping for rich winter sponge puddings, Christmas pudding or even with a really nice vanilla ice cream.
How long does cranberry sauce keep?
This homemade cranberry sauce will in the fridge for up to 2 weeks in a jar with a lid. You can freeze cranberry sauce for up to 4 months.
Can you water-bath can cranberry sauce?
Yes. Water-bath canning is a method of applying high heat (boiling water) to jars of high acid food in jars for enough time to kill off bacteria and make the contents shelf stable for a year or more.
Cranberry sauce can be water-bath canned in about 10 minutes using the standard canning method.
Looking for more super easy cranberry recipes to try? Then check these out before you go;
Cranberry and orange gin liqueur
Cranberry and orange marmalade
Finally, if you do try this recipe don’t forget to leave a comment/star rating below as I just love to hear from readers. Want more Larder Love? Then follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up for my newsletter too of course.
Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 250 g cranberries fresh or frozen
- 50 g sugar
- 1 orange zest and juice
- remove zest from orange and squeeze out the juice. Add this to a small pan along with the cranberries and the sugar
- Heat on low till sugar dissolves then raise the temperature to boil then lower a little so the sauce is just gently bubbling.
- Remove a spoonful of whole cranberries after 15 minutes and continue cooking the rest for another 5 minutes then squish with a fork or potato masher and return the whole cranberries to the mix and serve your sauce
Nikki Clark says
Used frozen cranberries as it was a last minute make. So quick and easy to do. I just added a glug of port to make it a bit more luxurious. Thank you for a fantastic quick and easy recipe.
Karon Grieve says
So glad you liked my recipe.