Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

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Five-ingredient Instant-Pot cranberry sauce recipe that’s sweet & tangy and definitely deserves a spot on the Thanksgiving dinner table for all to enjoy.

Bowl of Instant Pot cranberry sauce recipe.

I eagerly wait for fresh cranberries to hit the grocery stores all year long, especially once my frozen stash runs out. The mouth-puckering cranberry is a superfood packed with nutritional health benefits. Of course, it’s practically tradition to have a side dish of cranberry sauce on the table during the holidays.

I typically make a stovetop homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving or a sauce with orange zest that my family raves about. But with a little experimenting, I created a recipe for Instant Pot cranberry sauce in my electric pressure cooker, and I must say, I was thrilled with the results! The process seriously couldn’t be any simpler!

Offset the tartness with sweetness

If you’ve ever tasted cranberries alone, you know just how tart and astringent they are. The key is to balance those strong notes with a sweetener. This recipe uses honey for its rich caramel flavors. You can substitute maple syrup, brown sugar, or granulated white sugar. Adding a few cinnamon sticks infuses the taste of warm spices into the sauce for a nice holiday flavor.

For the Instant Pot to properly pressurize, the system needs at least 1 cup of liquid to create steam heat. This recipe uses orange juice instead of water to add a citrus flavor to the sauce. I also add freshly grated orange peel to infuse the essential oils into the cranberries for a pleasant taste and aroma that lingers.

Two whole cinnamon sticks on top of cranberries inside an Instant Pot.

Cooking under pressure

I use two settings on the Instant Pot to make the sauce; high-pressure cooking and sauteing. It’s the best way to quickly break down the cranberries while reducing the ingredients to thicken the sauce. The first step is to add all the ingredients to the pot, stir, cover it with the lid and allow it to come up to pressure. Once the internal pressure reaches about 13 psi, the cranberries will burst.

Saute and simmer

The final step is to “quick release” to depressurize the system. You’ll notice that the sauce is still runny in consistency. Hit the saute function and allow the sauce to simmer. This will concentrate the flavors and drive off some excess moisture from the berries and the juice. Once the sauce cools completely, it will thicken.

Homemade cranberry sauce simmering in a pressure cooker.

This easy Instant Pot cranberry sauce truly doesn’t get more simple than making it in a pressure cooker! I like to serve it with roast turkey breast or slather some on freshly baked buttermilk biscuits. This is a great recipe to make in advance and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. You can also place it in jars to enjoy leftover cranberry sauce all year.

More Thanksgiving Instant-Pot recipes

A metal serving spoon lifting a scoop of cranberry sauce out of an Instant Pot.

How the thickening process works

Cranberries naturally contain pectin in their cell walls and skin, which is a water-soluble fiber that, when released into the water and heated, will thicken the mixture. By cooking cranberries with sugar, acid from the orange juice, and water, the pectin molecules bind together, trapping moisture and adding thickness to the sauce. The result is a spoonable consistency that sticks to the turkey.

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Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

Five-ingredient Instant pot cranberry sauce that's sweet & tangy and definitely deserves a spot on the Thanksgiving dinner table for all to enjoy.
4.86 from 7 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings 32 servings
Course Condiment
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 24 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • orange zest, from one orange
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Instructions 

  • Combine the Ingredients – Add cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, and honey to the Instant Pot. Stir to combine and then add in the cinnamon sticks.
  • Program the Pressure Cooker – Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position. Place the lid on, turn and lock. Press the "Manual" button on high pressure, and then set the timer to 2 minutes using the "+" or "-" buttons.
    It will take about 10 to 15 minutes for the pot to heat and build up pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
  • Release the Pressure – Carefully quick-release the pressure from the pot, sliding the steam release handle to the "Venting" position, releasing all of the steam until the float valve drops down. Carefully open the lid.
  • Saute – Press the "Keep Warm/ Cancel" button. Press the "Saute" button. Reduce and stir the sauce until thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • To Serve – Taste and add more sweetener as desired. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Carefully transfer cranberry sauce to a serving dish. It will thicken slightly as it cools.

Equipment

Notes

  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
  • Storing: Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days
  • Honey Substitute: Granulated sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup can be substituted for honey.
  • Make it Vegan and Paleo: Use maple syrup instead of honey.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 32 servings
Calories 36kcal (2%)Carbohydrates 9g (3%)Potassium 21mg (1%)Sugar 9g (10%)Vitamin A 15IUVitamin C 4mg (5%)Calcium 4mgIron 0.1mg (1%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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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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5 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Utamu says

    Made it for thanksgiving dinner. My family loved it! Shared the recipe with my sister and her family loved the cranberry sauce. It was a hit at her house as well.

  2. Raeanne says

    Thank you for explaining this! I, too, am crazy about cranberry sauce. I always make it on the stovetop using orange juice. I was just wondering if you could use orange juice in the instapot instead of water. You answered my question. I think I still have two bags of frozen cranberries left, so I’ll give it a shot. Can’t wait until cranberries are in season again!

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