Thanksgiving dinner is a serious undertaking and shortcuts can be great, but step away from the canned cranberry sauce (considered by many one of the worst Thanksgiving side dishes, though others adore it). Making it from scratch is so easy—and so much more delicious. Our basic cranberry sauce recipe will walk you through it.
With all the heavy, savory, creamy food at Thanksgiving, the tart bite of cranberry sauce is essential. You may not want to nosh on a bowl of cranberry sauce by itself, but a little dab beside the stuffing and turkey lifts the entire meal.
While you don’t need extra stress when cooking this big dinner, you don’t want that wobbly canned cranberry sauce mold either. 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
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How to Make Cranberry Sauce:
1. Combine the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, and orange juice in the saucepan.
2. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low.
3. 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.
You can refrigerate it and serve chilled (it will thicken as it cools), or serve it while still warm for something different.
Cranberry Sauce Recipes
For more exacting recipes, try these:
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! To this basic mix of ingredients, you can add more layers of flavor in the form of grated ginger, a splash of Port, a couple fresh sage sage leaves, or whatever else sounds good. Just keep the liquid ratio about the same. Get our Easy Cranberry Sauce recipe.
Fresh grapefruit comes 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.
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.
Related Reading: A Love Letter to Canned Cranberry Sauce
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.
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.
Give a little twist to your traditional cranberry sauce with some fragrant fennel and walnuts, plus some yellow raisins. It’ll be a nice surprise, and it’s not really much extra work. Get our Fennel and Walnut Cranberry Sauce recipe.
Instead of regular cranberry sauce, make some chutney for your dinner rolls—or even better, dinner cheddar biscuits. Candied orange peel is what makes this spread sing, but it also boasts notes of maple syrup and red pepper. You can make it up to a week ahead of Thanksgiving. Get our Cranberry Spread recipe.
For more tips, tricks, and recipes, see our Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving.
Related Video: How to Make Cranberry Sauce Sangria