The Basics: How to Make Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries are essential at Thanksgiving, but what you don't need is extra stress. Good thing making a delicious, orange-scented, and not-too-sweet cranberry relish is so easy, you don't even need a recipe, certainly not a complicated one. Here's a simple, memorizable method that turns four ingredients into the perfect condiment for your holiday bird. When you're ready to move on and tackle something a bit more complex, check out the recipes below.

For 8 servings, you'll need:

  • a medium saucepan
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) fresh, or frozen and thawed, cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • finely grated zest from a whole orange
  • juice of half an orange
  • Combine the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, and orange juice in the saucepan.

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    Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low.

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    Simmer the sauce until the cranberries are soft and start to fall apart, about 30 minutes. Then remove from heat—the sauce will thicken some as it cools.

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    Easy Cranberry Sauce

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    You can make your own delicious cranberry sauce in just about half an hour, which is hardly more time than fishing around for the can opener in the drawer, grinding open the can, and shaking the jellied cylinder out onto a dish. We’re exaggerating, but you get the idea—make your own! Get our Easy Cranberry Sauce recipe.

    Cranberry and Citrus Sauce

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    Fresh grapefruit come onto the market like gangbusters just as Thanksgiving prep is ramping up, a sure sign that they should find a spot on your holiday table. Here, grapefruit zest mingles with orange zest and ruby red grapefruit sections to elevate cranberry sauce from ho-hum to amazing. Get our Cranberry and Citrus Sauce recipe.

    Jellied Cranberry Sauce

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    If you’re into making cranberry sauce from scratch but you yearn for the jellied texture of canned, fear not. This recipe uses gelatin to set your cranberry relish into a jiggly, delicious Thanksgiving condiment. Get our Jellied Cranberry Sauce recipe.

    Cranberry Relish

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    Tannic pomegranate juice combines with crisp apples and sweet raisins for a tasty sauce that goes way beyond the Thanksgiving table. It’s best made at least one day ahead so the flavors can meld. Serve room temperature or warmed, which is kind of a revelation. Get our Cranberry Relish recipe.

    Cranberry Conserve

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    A fresh take on Thanksgiving relish: chopped walnuts, apples, and—of course—cranberries, cooked together but kept chunky. Texture, flavor, and color combine, in one of the brightest dishes on the buffet. Get our Cranberry Conserve recipe.

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