Have your own batch of homemade cranberry sauce ready in 15 minutes! A fail-proof recipe that's super customizable and tastes a million times better than store bought. Made ahead instructions available below if you'd like to make this in advance for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!
Nothing says "Holiday Season" to me quite like cranberry sauce! It is so, so delicious and incredibly versatile (I mean, you can use it for anything from dinner to dessert to even drinks!)
You are in for a treat when you find out how easy it is to make your own cranberry sauce from scratch, at home! All you need is water, sugar, and cranberries to make a classic sauce - and then you can serve it plain or customize it with a bunch of different add-ins!
Some mix-ins you can include to flavor your cranberry sauce include cinnamon, pecans, orange/ lemon zest, apples, and more! You can also swap out all or some of the granulated sugar for maple syrup, brown sugar, honey, orange juice, or any other sweet substitute you like.
How to thicken cranberry sauce:
The thing I find so magical about cranberry sauce is the fact that it thickens itself. Okay, maybe it's more scientific than magical, but it's still amazing!
A classic, plain, basic cranberry sauce really only needs three ingredients: cranberries, sugar, and water. So where does the thickness come from? The natural pectin found in cranberries. I won't bore you to death about the science of it all - although if you're as curious as I am, here's a really detailed article on what pectin is.
Basically, pectin is the thickener. It naturally occurs in a lot of different fruits (including cranberries obviously), but it's also sold commercially (typically for thickening jams and jellies).
Make ahead instructions:
Homemade cranberry sauce will keep for up to 1 to 2 WEEKS in the fridge! Keep stored in an airtight container for maximum freshness. You can also freeze cranberry sauce in an airtight container or sealed freezer bag for up to 6 months.
To defrost frozen cranberry sauce, set aside in your fridge overnight until fully defrosted. If you stored your sauce in a freezer bag, you can quickly defrost it by pulling it out of the bag and placing it into a large pot. Heat the frozen sauce on low heat until defrosted.
Check out these other Thanksgiving recipes!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries * see notes
- In a large pot, combine water and sugar. Place over medium-high heat and heat while stirring until the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Add your cranberries to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture boils and most of the cranberries have burst (this should take about 10 minutes). If the mixture starts splattering, reduce the heat slightly to maintain a gentle boil.
- Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. The colder the cranberry sauce, the more firm it will be. If you like a thick sauce, cool the cranberry sauce to room temperature, and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firmed up.