This EASY Thanksgiving cranberry sauce recipe is made with fresh cranberries, orange zest, ground cloves and cinnamon and sweetened with sugar. Add pecan pieces to give it some crunch (optional.) It’s the perfect side dish for your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey! Gluten-free
It’s so much better than the canned stuff!
Easy Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce Recipes
First, I must tell you that my Lemon Ginger Cranberry Relish + VIDEO was featured on Good Housekeeping for six years in a row!
It’s super easy to make with a food processor, fresh lemon and ginger. It tastes its best on day three so, it’s a great make ahead Thanksgiving side dish or any time you’re making whole turkey, turkey breast or turkey tenderloin.
So, I do know something or two about making cranberry relishes and sauces. Do try my Cranberry Orange Mimosas which are perfect for Christmas morning or brunch!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means, if you make a purchase, I’ll make a small commission, but the price you pay is the same.
Cranberries are the nutritious epitome of Christmas fruit! They’re used in quick breads, cheesecake, Cranberry Orange Christmas Ham and even turkey brine!
Sugared cranberries are so festive and perfect for cake toppers, drink garnishes or tablescapes.
Although the holiday season can be very fun, it can be stressful when you’re the one hosting large gatherings. It’s best to prep as much as you can ahead and cranberry sauce is one of the things that can be done weeks early.
It can be made weeks ahead and then frozen or you can make it days ahead and let it sit in your refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it. The flavors meld nicely in a matter of days but, this recipe can be served immediately.
Cocktails can be made ahead and some of my recipes have pitcher recipes to make it easier for you. For example, my Winter White Cosmo (Bonefish Grill copycat) recipe has a pitcher recipe in the notes section of the recipe card. Check it out as it’s my number one recipe in 2021.
You’ll only need one teaspoon of orange zest to make this recipe which is much less than what’s pictured above. Also, it’s easiest to zest a whole orange rather than half or quarter pieces. Often times, I don’t remember to zest it while it’s still whole. My mind doesn’t work like it used to (wink, wink.)
The natural, fresh citrus flavoring of orange zest adds so much “mmm” to both savory and sweet recipes. It’s a home cook’s flavor life savor sometimes. I use it in my Spicy Orange Flounder Sheet Pan Dinner and Best Moist Orange Zucchini Bread Recipe.
Orange zest adds fresh citrus spunk to cranberry sauce and is a wonderful pairing of flavors. You can use just about any orange you have on hand. I typically use a navel orange.
Use a citrus zester to zest oranges (lemons, limes, and grapefruit too.) Click the zester picture below to purchase on Amazon (affiliate link.) I use my zester often as citrus zest is great for homemade salad dressings too.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
This homemade cranberry sauce will taste best in 2-3 days when the flavors have time to meld in the refrigerator.
This is a cooked recipe that can be made in about 10 minutes! Let the sauce come to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Leftover Cranberry Sauce
The containers below are 8 oz. with screw type lids that are perfect for storing your cranberry sauce or leftover cranberry sauce or even giving it to family and friends.
Plus, the containers are reusable for fruit or vegetable sides and packed lunches or snacks.
I use a cinnamon stick to style the cranberry sauce for a festive presentation. You may also use a fresh cinnamon stick to flavor the cranberry sauce after it’s been cooked if you don’t have ground cinnamon. Also, you can grate the cinnamon stick and use the shavings to flavor the cranberry sauce.
Use cinnamon sticks to make homemade potpourri with apple cider, whole cloves, and orange quarters. Your house will have the aroma of the holidays.
Use my Christmas Dinner Planner to help plan a menu and stay organized no matter how big is your gathering. Whether you’re making a slow cooker turkey breast or a spiral cut maple glazed ham, you can get nearly all of your recipes right here on this site! My Homemade Green Bean Casserole + VIDEO
I know you’ll love my Snowy Antipasto Christmas Wreath and 3-D Christmas Fruit Tree! You’ll find an array of Christmas recipes both, savory and sweet. And don’t forget the Christmas cocktails.
Get my 10 Tips to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Dinner with Ham.
Use my Stress Free Thanksgiving Planning (FREE Checklist) and see all of my beloved Thanksgiving recipes and Thanksgiving desserts! Pumpkin Spice Latte Tiramisu is the perfect light dessert to serve after heavy holiday meal.
I also have Thanksgiving Air Fryer Side Dishes Recipes and a whole article on How to Keep Thanksgiving Sides Warm.
Also, whether you’re making a ham for Thanksgiving or Christmas, don’t throw away that ham bone! You can make a super delicious Ham Potato and White Bean Soup with it!
Cranberry sauce is so versatile when you think about it. It can be used to make Cranberry Pecan Brie Phyllo Appetizers and put on a brie wheel and baked or used to make a recipe similar to my Cranberry Orange Baked Ham which will wow your guests like it did mine. It sure doesn’t have to be a holiday to make a delicious ham!
Easy Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- 12 oz fresh cranberries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tsp fresh orange zest or 1 tsp orange extract
- 1/16 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces or chips optional
- First, rinse the cranberries.
- Next, add them to a medium sized sauce pan and cook them on med/high heat. They will start making popping sounds. Cook until there are only a few whole but, mushy cranberries left (about 5-10 minutes.)
- Then, add the 1/3 cup of water, 1 tsp of orange zest (or orange extract,)1/16 tsp of ground cloves, and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Stir until well combined. Let cool and refrigerate until ready to serve or serve at room temperature.