Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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A Thanksgiving holiday feast is not complete unless there is homemade cranberry sauce on the table! Make this easy four-ingredient condiment ready in under 30 minutes. Impress your guests this year!

A Thanksgiving holiday feast is not complete unless there is homemade cranberry sauce on the table! Make this easy four-ingredient condiment ready in under 30 minutes.

With holidays fast approaching I have cranberries on the brain. It’s a very verstaile ingredient, but I know there’s a deep divide about cranberry sauce out there. Do you use canned or freshly made? For me, the answer is clear. Fresh homemade cranberry sauce wins out every time, and with this recipe, it’ll be easy to see why.

In under 30 minutes and only four ingredients, the cooked healthy berries magically transform into a thickened sweet, tangy, and addicting sauce. When the holidays roll around, be the first to raise your hand to make this incredibly easy condiment. It’s quick, effortless, and impressive!

Pan cooking cranberries on the stove top

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

  • Fresh Cranberries: You can easily find the pre-measured 12-ounce bags in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Look for round, ruby-colored berries, that are absent of wrinkles on the surface signaling their older age. Wash and clean the berries, removing any that have burst or are broken.
  • Sweetener: This is a must! Cranberries pack a mean sour-punch and need to be balanced with a sweetener. Honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, agave syrup or granulated sugar can be used. My sauce has a strong sweet and tangy flavor, so feel free to add more sweetener to your liking.
  • Liquid: Water, juice or even wine helps the berries gell up once they have popped open. It allows the natural pectin inside the fruit to dissolve and spread, creating a thickened sauce once cooked, stirred and cooled.
  • Flavoring: I’ve added pure vanilla extract to round out the sweet notes of the sauce. Whole vanilla beans or even cinnamon sticks can be added to the sauce as it simmers and cooks to infuse additional flavor and aromatics.

As the whole cranberries simmer in the sweetened liquid, you will hear a symphony of “pops.” Once all of the cranberries burst and cook down, the vibrant and juicy sauce will be ready.

Blue porcelain bowl of freshly made cranberry sauce

How To Store Cranberry Sauce

After making and eating this cranberry sauce, don’t worry about rushing to get it into the refrigerator, though you shouldn’t leave it out for more than two hours for food safety reasons. You’ll want to make sure it’s covered, preferably in a Tupperware container or something else tightly sealed. It can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Homemade cranberry sauce can be frozen. Although I recommend, you use it within the next two months.

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

A Thanksgiving holiday feast is not complete unless there is homemade cranberry sauce on the table! Make this easy four-ingredient condiment ready in under 30 minutes.
Pin Print Review
4.44 from 23 votes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings 16 servings
Course Condiment
Cuisine American


  • 12 ounces cranberries, washed
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • In a medium-sized pan add cranberries, maple syrup and water.
  • Bring sauce to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until cranberries pop and mixture has slightly thickened.
  • Make sure to stir occasionally, about every 5 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the vanilla. Taste sauce and add more maple syrup if desired.


  • Skillet


  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
  • Store in an airtight container inside the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  • Honey, coconut sugar, agave syrup or granulated sugar can be substituted for maple syrup.
  • Add more sweetener if you want a sweeter sauce.
  • Apple juice, apple cider, orange juice or grape juice can be substituted for water to add a different flavor.

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Nutrition Facts
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 32
% Daily Value*
Sodium 0.2mg0%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 0.4g2%
Sugar 7g8%
Vitamin C 1.7mg2%
Calcium 10mg1%
Iron 0.2mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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9 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. C S Bebko says

    I like the idea of adding vanilla as a balancer, but I always understood that pure vanilla “cooked off” during any sort of heat treatment. Would it be better to add it, or a lesser amount off heat? Thanks, and we enjoy your recipes!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great point! I like your thoughts on this, the vanilla is added for aromatics which is volatile and can be sensitive to heat. I am going to update the recipe to incorporate your comments. You are a budding culinary scientist!

  2. Christine says

    Since I had agave syrup in my pantry I ended up using that along with the vanilla extract and it was really good! I love the hint of vanilla with the cranberry. Thanks!

  3. Laura Casey says

    I love a good cranberry sauce…..I’ll be making mine Thanksgiving week….will add orange juice as my liquid…….and packing for my trip to see family in New Mexico! Thanks! And Happy Thanksgiving to you and family.

  4. Marissa Meyers says

    Just tried this cranberry sauce recipe and it was so delicious! I’ve always followed the package instructions in the past but this method is way better. Love the consistency and of course the taste – couldn’t stop eating it. Another winner for Thanksgiving!

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