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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving

This past Sunday, I was looking at the ads in our Sunday newspaper. One of the ads, from a national retailer, who also sells food, included a page with a picture of a Thanksgiving dinner. Aside from the turkey (which they also sell), all of the food in the picture came from a box or a can. I can totally understand. Everyone is incredibly busy and it’s just easier to open the container and go. Everyone tries their best to balance what they want or can do themselves with what they can just buy, taking time, desire and ability into account.

If you are up for tiny bit more effort, but willing to be rewarded with great taste, here’s one substitute for the store bought container.

Homemade cranberries

When I was growing up and continuing into my married life, I did not realize or think about the fact that cranberries came in a different form than in a can. Once plopped out of the can and still with its tin can ripple indentations intact, the cranberries were served. That’s all I thought about cranberries and didn’t know any better. I had briefly seen the bags of cranberries in the produce section but I figured there must be a lot of kitchen magic (probably involving pectin or some jelly like process) to turn that bag of fresh fruit into the gelatinous substance that signified actual cranberry sauce. But cranberry sauce is so much easier than I ever imagined.

With just a little more work than opening a can, you can make your very own, delicious, not cloyingly sweet, just the right amount of tang, homemade cranberry sauce. Once you try this recipe, you’ll see that making your own homemade cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries is so easy, you’ll want to retire that can opener for good!

Cranberries, orange and ginger

Homemade cranberry sauce doesn’t take much time to make and it can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated. My daughter made it for us this past weekend with delicious results, proving it’s a good recipe for kids to make as well.

This recipe serves 8-9 and for Thanksgiving this year, I’m making a double batch.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: American
Author: Sara Tetreault
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
These are easy to make and taste so much better than any you can buy from the store. You will love them and so will your guests! Leftovers are perfect on a turkey sandwich, too.
  • 12 ounce package of cranberries, fresh
  • 1 orange (outside zest and inside fruit)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of fresh ginger
  • 1 cup organic granulated sugar
  1. Rinse cranberries and place in saucepan.
  2. Zest orange into saucepan with cranberries.
  3. Peel orange and cut orange into small bite size pieces.
  4. Add orange pieces to saucepan.
  5. Peel ginger and mince (or use zester here, too) into saucepan.
  6. Add 1-cup sugar to saucepan and stir all ingredients together.
  7. Turn stove onto medium high and once cranberries start to make noise, lower temperature to medium.
  8. Stir frequently and mash if desired to let cranberries turn into “sauce.”
  9. Cool slightly and put into serving bowl.
  10. Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.
  11. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.
Cranberries are so pretty that I like to use them in a bowl for decorating before actually cooking them. Try it!

We’re planning to have 14 (or so) at our table and hope to have leftovers!

Homemade cranberry sauce recipe


  • I always try to use less sugar but the sauce usually ends up tasting too tart. You can always start out with 3/4 of a cup of sugar and then gradually add more if you’d like.
  • Another variation to this recipe is to add freshly minced mint.

My favorite type of zester is this one by Microplane: [amazon_link id=”B00004S7V8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater[/amazon_link] it’s a wood rasp but has a handle on it. I use it for cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, ginger, and for zesting citrus.

Homemade cranberry sauce is a staple on our table and it’s so easy to make and tastes so much better than what comes in a can. You won’t miss those little tin can indentations a bit, I promise!

Do you like cranberries for with your Thanksgiving dinner? Do you like them on a leftover turkey sandwich?

Go Gingham related links:

Whole Foods Thanksgiving turkey giveaway – have you entered yet?
Turkey grilling tips from the “Grill Masters” in my life!
Thanksgiving wishes from one year ago and digging for clams
Grilled Thanksgiving turkey from two years ago
Cloth napkins for Thanksgiving that are made from an old skirt
A Thanksgiving tablecloth made with quilting techniques
Pumpkin spice cake would also make a nice dessert at Thanksgiving

14 thoughts on “Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  1. Didn’t know that cranberries came in bags… I thought they only came in cans, complete with can indentations. I’ll have to go looking for the non-can version. 🙂


    1. It’s true, Tina! They are fresh at my local grocery store right now. The are usually packaged in 12 ounce bags.
      Try the fresh version – it’s delicious!
      I also baked a cake with cranberries in it and that was good, too.
      Can’t wait to hear how yours turns out, Tina. Thanks for leaving a comment.


  2. I make my own cranberry sauce and home can it for year round use. Quality is beyond superior to what the canned stuff offers and is far cheaper than the stuff in tubs sold at the grocers, although the tubs ar ea much better product, IMO, over the canned. I still also make a raw cran-orange relish, similar to the tub Ocean Spray stuff, again for far less and without questionable ingredients.


    1. Carol, good for you! That is an important point – the ingredients. When making food from scratch, we know what we’re putting into it. I like knowing what’s going into my body!
      Just read your post about draft dodgers and sewing them with scraps. Well done! I love the use of scraps – both in the kitchen and in the sewing studio.
      Thanks for leaving a comment.


  3. Most all of our Thanksgiving dinner is “from scratch.” I’ve made several different cranberry sauces and relishes over the years. Another one that’s really good, and a bit unusual if you’re used to a sweeter cranberry/orange-type relish is a recipe called Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish. It’s a recipe that gets broadcast on NPR every year. Roger and I like it – the rest of the family is rather ambivalent. Here’s the link if you want to try it.



    1. Cathy, it sounds great to me and similar to a beet salad recipe I make. I really horseradish and will need to give this one a whirl.
      Thanks for the link. Happy Thanksgiving!


  4. Sara–so funny! I was a married woman before I realized how easy it is to make homemade cranberry sauce. I just use the cranberry/sugar/water recipe on the bag and it turns out great every time. I have a recipe I make year-round for turkey meatballs covered in cranberry sauce–you make the traditional sauce and add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard when it is done cooking–yum!


    1. Kris, those turkey meatballs sound great! It’s true – the recipe on the bag of cranberries totally works and is a good one – especially if you’ve never made them before.
      Happy Thanksgiving, Kris!!


  5. I have a teenage granddaughter who loves canned cranberry jelly. For holiday meals we dust off my mother’s crystal cranberry dish with silver server. Yes, at one time canned cranberry sauce was so special they made special serving dishes for it. You open the can, carefully slice the sauce down the middle, slide the sauce out of the can and the two halves sit perfectly side-by-side on the dish. The canned version is a must-have for the granddaughter, and a nice way to include my now deceased mother by using her cranberry dish.

    I’ve gotten hooked on a recipe from “SuperFoods” by Steven Pratt, M.D., and Kathy Matthews. Once again, it’s so simple! I buy fresh cranberries and store them in the freezer and make a half or quarter recipe to serve with poultry or pork, not just for holiday meals.

    -one 12-oz. package fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
    -one washed and UNpeeled orange (yep, that’s keep the peel on), cut into eights and seeded
    -3/4 c. sugar (I use a little low-glycemic agave nectar or palm sugar instead of sugar, and nearly any kind of sweetener could be used.)

    Place half the cranberries and half the orange pieces in a food processor and process until the mixture is evenly chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining cranberries and orange slices. Stir in the sugar. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to serve.

    ~Karen G.


    1. 🙂 you’re a good grandma, Karen!
      Love the sounds of this recipe – especially without any waste and using the entire orange – skins and all.
      Thanks, Karen. I’ve read that book and really like it. In fact (no laughing) I typed up a chart of all of their recommendations and it hangs on our refrigerator. It’s always a good reminder to put good stuff into our bodies!


  6. I’m late to this discussion, but my Thanksgiving was over a month ago. I grew up not knowing cranberry sauce came in cans from the store, until we were at my aunt’s one Christmas. That is the only time I have ever had commercially canned. I use homemade sauce that I can, like Carol, for all kinds of baking, as well as chicken sandwiches, and have about a dozen bags of frozen cranberries that will go into muffins and coffee cakes all winter. Scones with cranberries and white chocolate chips are awesome! The day after Thanksgiving here, the bags were marked down to $.68 each, go straight from the store into the freezer and make much more, and much better sauce than you get in one can.


    1. Karen, I so enjoyed reading your tips and routine on this. You have completely inspired me to buy cranberries next week when they’re on sale and freeze them for later use. I love getting tips like this – thank you. Your cranberry recipes sound delicious and I hope you had a wonderful holiday! Thanks for your comment, Karen.


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