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  • Dairy Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Nut Free
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian

Easy Cranberry Sauce with Citrus

This cranberry sauce is quick and homemade, and you can make it ahead of time for the big day! Enjoy the sweet-tart cranberry and the warming spice of cinnamon spread over your food of choice. In just 15 minutes, you can have a Thanksgiving essential ready to go!

cranberry sauce with chunks of cranberries and orange zest in a white bowl with a white spoon.

Why I Love This Recipe For Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries are delicious and nutritious, and since I’ve made my own Cranberry Jam and Cranberry Juice before, I figured it was time to dive into the fall classic: Cranberry Sauce. 

Homemade cranberry sauce is an absolute must-have for Thanksgiving, and it’s one of those rare recipes that tastes even better the day after. Slather some on a leftover turkey sandwich, maybe with some stuffing, and you’ll never look back. 

Of course, cranberry sauce can be enjoyed year-round in a variety of ways. You can use it as a spread for toast, a topping for ice cream, or a filling in french toast, among many other things. But one thing’s for sure; the tartness of the cranberry balanced with a bit of sugar and citrus creates a combination everyone at the table will love!

Key Ingredients to Make This Cranberry Recipe

all of the ingredients for cranberry sauce in bowls including cranberries sugar water and a cinnamon stick and orange on the table.
  • Cranberries – You can use fresh or frozen; it doesn’t matter!
  • Orange – Use both the zest of the orange AND the juice. The citrus is necessary for stabilizing the sauce (and allowing it to keep for longer), and the zest adds lots more flavor. 
  • Cinnamon – Use a whole stick of cinnamon. It’ll simmer in the sauce so the heat allows the cinnamony flavor to disperse throughout the mixture. 
  • Sugar and Water Classic staples.

How to Make the Sauce

Step 1: Mix Ingredients

In a small pan mix together all the ingredients. 

Step 2: Boil and Simmer

Over medium-high heat, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until most of the cranberries burst. 

small pan boiling cranberry with citrus cinnamon stick and water.

Step 3: Allow to Cool and Thicken

Remove the cinnamon stick from the pan and let the sauce cool completely. The sauce will thicken when it cools.

Cooked cranberries with citrus in a mint pot with wooden spoon on a brown wooden board.

Recipe FAQs

Is cranberry sauce healthy for you?

Cranberries are full of loads of vitamins, minerals, and fiber! The sauce itself includes added sugar, which is fine in moderation, so it really depends on your perspective. 

Do you serve cranberry sauce hot or cold?

It’s actually most commonly served at room temperature, but if you have a strong preference for hot or cold you can enjoy it whichever way you want. 

What do you serve cranberry sauce with?

So many things! I suggest waffles and pancakes, on toast, on a scone, stirred into yogurt, blended in a  smoothie, etc. At Thanksgiving, we generally put it on top of literally everything, especially leftover Thanksgiving sandwiches. There’s something about the turkey and cranberry combo that can’t be beat!

How should I store my cranberry sauce if I make it ahead?

Make it at least one day before serving because it’s best at room temperature. Allow the cranberry sauce to cool before you store it, and then put it in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 10 days. You can also freeze it for up to a year. Just let it defrost in the fridge the day before use.

Variations on Cranberry Jam 

  • Include less sugar, add more to taste!
  • Stir in nuts at the end for addition texture and flavor.
  • Use more orange juice, less water.
  • Add another cinnamon stick if you love the autumnal spice!
  • Or add in some pumpkin pie spices!
  • Want more texture? Reserve some whole (fresh) cranberries to add towards the end so they don’t completely break down.
cranberry sauce in a large saucepan with a wooden spoon.

Related Jam Recipes To Try

Jam is a great idea anytime of the year. Sweet cherry jam can be made with fresh ripped red cherries during summer. Sweet apricot jam is a must try during the autumn season, the color fits in just right! Homemade strawberry jam is my favorite, especially leaving some of the strawberries whole. If you are in a hurry, try the quick no boiling raspberry freezer jam, it’s easy!

Tasty Jam Recipes

If you tried this Chicken Couscous Soup with Vegetables or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you enjoyed it in the📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!

a white bowl with cranberry sauce in it.

Cranberry Sauce

Sweet Cranberry Sauce is one of the best holiday treats! It's easy to make and complements a holiday meal. Thanksgiving dinner isn't complete without it!
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Course: Desserts, Side Dish, Spread, Starters and Sides
Cuisine: American, Jam
Allergy: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Calories: 176kcal


  • 12 oz fresh cranberries (or frozen)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 large orange, for zest
  • 1 large orange, juiced, about ½ cup
  • 1 stick cinnamon


  • In a small pan mix together all the ingredients.
    12 oz fresh cranberries, 1 cup sugar, ½ cup water, 1 large orange,, 1 large orange,, 1 stick cinnamon
    cranberries water orange zest and a cinnamon stick in water in a pot.
  • Over medium-high heat, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until most of the cranberries burst.
    cooked cranberry sauce in a big pot.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick from the pan and let the sauce cool completely. The sauce will thicken when it cools.
    a pot of cranberry sauce with a wooden spoon.


Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 134IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 0.2mg
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