Made with only five simple ingredients, this homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce is a must for your holiday menu. Bursting with flavour from the fresh juicy cranberries and orange juice, this sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
I’m here to settle the argument between using canned cranberry sauce or making your own for the holidays. Yes, canned cranberry sauce is convenient but this homemade cranberry orange sauce is going to impress your guests. Even better, it comes together so quickly and easily. It only takes a few minutes longer than searching for the can opener to open a can!
The flavours from the cranberry and orange juice are so bright and fresh, it’s the perfect accompaniment to any holiday meal you’re planning from Garlic Butter Turkey Breast Recipe to Garlic Herb Butter Roast Chicken. It goes really well with other sides as well such as Potatoes au Gratin or my Healthier Green Bean Casserole Recipe.
Even better, if you have leftovers, you can spread it on some bread with some sliced turkey or slice and it makes for an amazing Thanksgiving leftover sandwich! Trust me, it takes 15 minutes to cook on the stove and it’s worth the “effort.”
How to Make Cranberry Orange Sauce
- Fresh cranberries — Rinsed the cranberries with cold water before using.
- Orange juice — I love the flavour you get some freshly squeezed orange juice. Since we need orange zest for garnish, it’s easier to just buy some oranges to juice instead of using bottled orange juice.
- Pure maple syrup — It’s important to use pure maple syrup and not use pancake syrup. Pancake syrup is not the same thing as maple syrup, which is made from the sap from maple trees.
- Vanilla extract — I recommend using real vanilla extract instead of artificial extract for the best flavour.
- Orange zest — For garnish.
Combine the ingredients
- In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries, orange juice, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Make sure the cranberries have been washed beforehand and try to pat them dry.
Bring to a boil and simmer
- Bring the saucepan of sauce to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce gets thick. You may notice a popping sound. This is just the cranberries popping and it’s totally normal.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool down for 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a bowl and place it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- When it’s time to serve, garnish with orange zest.
There are so many ways to change up this cranberry orange sauce. If you like your cranberry sauce to be sweeter, you can add more maple syrup to the sauce. If you like it tarter, add less maple syrup. Want a thicker cranberry sauce? Add a little less orange juice or simmer it for longer. Want it to be thinner? Add more orange juice!
How to pick fresh cranberries
- Squeeze the cranberries. They should be firm when you squeeze them. Skip the soft cranberries.
- Give them a bounce on a counter, ripe cranberries will have a bounce to them!
- Check the colour of the cranberries. Fresh cranberries has a deep red colour and are shiny. Skip the ones with discoloration or brown spots on the skin.
Can I make this ahead of time?
You can definitely make this cranberry orange sauce ahead of time. Cook the sauce as directed. After your cranberry sauce has cooled, store it in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 5 days. When ready to serve, reheat on the stove if you’d like for it to be warmed up or serve it chilled.
Can I use frozen cranberries for cranberry sauce?
You sure can! If you don’t have access to fresh cranberries, you can use frozen cranberries to make cranberry sauce. Add them directly from frozen into the saucepan and cook as directed. You might have to add a couple of minutes to offset the frozen cranberries but it shouldn’t be much of a difference.
Can I freeze cranberry sauce?
If you have extra cranberry sauce, you can freeze it for later. Transfer the sauce to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, simply thaw it in the fridge. You can simmer the sauce again to heat it up or enjoy it chilled.
How do I zest an orange?
Always zest an orange before juicing. Simply use a grater or microplane to zest the orange. If you do not have one, use a vegetable peeler and finely cut the orange peel. Be sure to only zest the outer orange layer, as the white layer underneath tastes bitter.
More recipes for your holiday menu
- Pork Chops with Apples and Onions: Pork chops and apples make the perfect celebration of fall flavors. It’s so quick and easy to make.
- Brussels Sprouts Casserole Recipe: This side dish is so easy to make and each bite is filled with Brussels sprouts and cheesy goodness!
- Creamy Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Made with simple wholesome ingredients, this mashed sweet potatoes recipe is rich and creamy without being a heavy side dish.
- Gluten-free Cornbread: Soft, fluffy and far from dry. Everybody will love this recipe!
- Easy Roasted Turkey Breast: This turkey breast is cooked in the oven and in a fraction of the time of a whole turkey.
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- In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries, orange juice, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce gets thick. You may notice a popping sound. This is just the cranberries popping and it’s totally normal.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool down for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a bowl and place it in the refrigerator. When it’s time to serve, garnish with orange zest.
- If you are using frozen cranberries, add them directly from frozen. No need to thaw them.
- You can use fresh or bottled orange juice but since you need orange zest, you can easily juice it afterward.
- Make sure you're using real maple syrup and not pancake syrup.
- To store: Store leftover cranberry orange sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- To reheat: You can reheat the sauce on the stovetop or serve it chilled.
- To freeze: Once the sauce has cooled to room temperature, transfer the sauce to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.