Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Holiday feasts MUST have homemade Cranberry Sauce, and this is my favorite recipe in the world! It’s not too sweet, it’s chunky and delish, and it has a subtle orange flavor that really makes it something special!

The Best homemade cranberry sauce

Good Cranberry Sauce should also be easy – you’ve got enough going on without having to worry about some frou-frou fancy sauce. This homemade Cranberry Sauce is easy and so good, and the best part is that you can get it ready a few days ahead of time!

This year, don’t buy canned sauce – make it from scratch! Don’t be intimidated by this recipe. There are only 4 ingredients, and it takes about 20 minutes. It’s super easy, super delish, and it tastes wayyy better than canned cranberry sauce.


  • Fresh cranberries
  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Orange juice
  • Pecans – Optional; toasted and chopped.
homemade cranberry sauce

How Do You Clean Cranberries?

Cranberries grow in water, and they are mechanically harvested so you can get some funky berries in a bag, and you don’t want those in your sauce. The best way to clean your cranberries is to dump the bag into a bowlful of water and give them a good swooshing around. Then, pick out any leaves or stems, and remove any berries that sink or are squishy.

How Do You Know Cranberries Are Ripe?

Cranberries are harvested when they’re ripe, but the ones with the most flavor are deep red in color. You want to make sure that the berries are firm and dark in color – those are the freshest and will make the tastiest whole Cranberry Sauce.

How To Make The Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  1. Combine the white sugar, brown sugar, and orange juice in a saucepan and heat over low heat until the sugars are dissolved.
  2. Clean the berries and discard any squishy ones.
  3. Add the cranberries and cook over medium heat, stirring a few times, until the cranberries start to pop.
  4. Turn the heat off, give them a good last stir, and let them cool. They’ll thicken as they cool.
  5. Top with the roasted and chopped pecans before serving.

How Do You Know When Cranberries Are Done?

Cranberries have a fair bit of pectin in them, and this is part of what makes them feel so firm. When you cook them in a liquid, the cranberries steam and pop open releasing the pectin. Without sugar, the sauce would be runny, but when you add sugar, the pectin binds to the sugar creating a nice thick sauce. You’ll know your cranberries are cooked when they’ve started to pop open. They should all be popped – cook them gently until there are no whole berries left.

Recipe Tips

  • Control the heat – cranberries can scorch the bottom of the pan if you’re not careful. Low and slow is the way to go.
  • Any kind of orange juice works, including extra pulp.
  • For the best flavor, serve your fresh Cranberry Sauce at room temperature.
  • Make extra so you can make my amazing Cranberry Struesel Bars.
  • You can make this easy Cranberry Sauce recipe up to 2 days in advance.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce


  • For a wee bit more orange flavor, use a microplane grater and add a tablespoon or two of orange zest to the sauce.
  • Add mini marshmallows to the cooled sauce. 
  • Use light or dark brown sugar in this recipe. 
  • Like your Cranberry Sauce more tart? Use less sugar!


Store any Cranberry Sauce leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days in an airtight container.

What to Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Leftover homemade Cranberry Sauce with orange can be used in so many delicious ways! I love it in Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce, Turkey, Cranberry & Brie Baked Sliders, Cranberry Granola Bars, and my favorite, Leftover Thanksgiving Sandwiches.

homemade cranberry sauce
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Cranberry Sauce

Author Mrs Happy Homemaker


  • 12 ounces cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • chopped pecans to taste optional


  • Combine the sugars & orange juice in a saucepan & cook on medium until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add in the cranberries, and cook 10-15 minutes on medium heat, stirring every so often – until the cranberries start popping. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
  • Refrigerate until time to serve.
  • This can be made 48 hours in advance.

Other Delicious Holiday Recipes

The BEST Homemade Cranberry Sauce - this is my favorite recipe EVER! | MrsHappyHomemaker.com @MrsHappyHomemaker