3-Ingredient Cranberry Sauce

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    A fresh and delicious homemade cranberry sauce recipe made with only 3 simple ingredients! Just as easy as the canned sauce, but with so much more flavor!

    You can’t have a holiday dinner without cranberry sauce on the menu! It’s one of the classics and tastes amazing served alongside creamy mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing and a homemade dinner roll. It’s always one of the first sides I load up on!

    homemade cranberry sauce in bowl

    This delicious cranberry sauce only takes 3 simple ingredients to make. It’s almost as easy as opening up the can and tastes SO much better! Promise! The addition of fresh orange juice and orange zest really takes the flavor up a notch. So yummy!

    The sauce is so easy to make and can be prepped ahead of time. I love to make it a couple of days in advance or even a few weeks before and store it in the freezer. It’s the perfect Christmas or Thanksgiving side dish and adds just the right amount of fresh flavor to your holiday meal. Plus the leftovers taste amazing and are even better the next day!

    ingredients for cranberry sauce on counter

    3 simple ingredients

    To make this recipe, you simply just need the 3 ingredients below. All of the ingredients mixed together make a magical sauce that is so fresh and delicious!

    • Cranberries: Look for fresh cranberries that are bright red in color and firm to touch.
    • Orange: This recipe uses the juice and zest of a fresh orange.
    • Sugar: Add granulated sugar to give it the perfect sweetness. For a healthier alternative, you may use pure honey or maple syrup.

    How to make cranberry sauce

    1. Combine the orange (juice + zest), sugar and water in a medium pan over medium heat and bring to a light boil.
    2. Stir in the cranberries and a pinch of salt.
    3. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until most of the cranberries have burst.
    4. Mash the cranberries if you prefer a smooth sauce.
    5. Serve warm or cold, whichever you prefer.

    cranberry sauce ingredients in large blue pot

    Is it supposed to be hot or cold?

    It can be served warm or cold. I typically serve it cold since I make it a few days in advance and store it in the fridge. If you’re serving it warm, you can easily make it ahead of time and then place it in the slow cooker on the warm setting. It will make your home smell amazing!

    Storing + freezing

    • To store: This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about 1-2 weeks. It’s the perfect holiday side dish to make ahead of time and stick in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Plus the flavors marinate together wonderfully when stored in the fridge! Just place in an airtight container and stick in the fridge until serving.
    • To freeze: It can easily be stored in the freezer a few weeks before serving. Store in an airtight container or freezer bag. To thaw, stick in the fridge overnight. You can serve cold or warm up in a sauce pan or slow cooker, whichever you prefer.

    cranberry sauce in pot with wooden spoon

    Favorite ways to use leftovers

    Cranberry sauce is a traditional relish that tastes delicious on top of roasted turkeyroasted chicken or baked ham. There are lots of other yummy ways to use up the leftovers (if you have any). Check out the ideas below.


    spoonful of homemade cranberry sauce

    More recipes with fresh cranberries:

    homemade cranberry sauce

    Homemade Cranberry Sauce

    Course: Condiment
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: cranberry sauce
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 15 minutes
    Servings: 12
    Calories: 75
    Author: Jamielyn Nye
    A fresh and delicious homemade cranberry sauce recipe made with only 3 simple ingredients! Just as easy as the canned sauce, but with so much more flavor!


    • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (12 ounce bag)
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 orange
    • 1/2 cup water
    • Pinch kosher salt


    • Zest the orange and then cut in half. Juice the orange into a small bowl and remove any seeds. 
    • Place the sugar, fresh orange juice, orange zest and water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a light boil over medium heat. 
    • Stir in the cranberries and salt. Continue to cook until the cranberries have burst and it has thickened (about 10 minutes). Mash the cranberries if you prefer a smoother sauce. 
    • Remove from heat and put the sauce in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 


    This is a sweet cranberry sauce. If you'd like more of a bitter taste, cut the sugar in half. If you'd like to use a natural sweetener, you can use pure honey or 100% pure maple syrup. 


    Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Potassium: 30mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 7.5mg | Calcium: 5mg


    More holiday side dishes

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