Cranberry Orange Sauce

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This Easy Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce is the perfect addition to your next Thanksgiving dinner!

Easy Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce | Get Inspired Everyday!

Cranberry sauce from scratch is so simple and so tasty, you’ll never go back to the canned version. Even better, it can be made ahead for extra ease during holiday dinners.

I love adding orange to the mix when it comes to cranberry sauce because I find it takes the edge off, and rounds out the cranberry flavor. Then with just a touch of sweetener, you have a sweet/tart sauce perfect for pairing together with turkey.

Easy Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce | Get Inspired Everyday!

While I do still have my original cranberry orange sauce on the blog, I’ve made a few small changes. So I knew it was time for an update with the way I’m currently making it.

I used to add a bit more water which needed to be thickened at the end. This was because I found people tended to like cranberry sauce to be less intense. However by just changing up the amount of sweetening, and reducing the water a touch, I found the balance I was looking for.

Easy Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce | Get Inspired Everyday!

How to make Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce

  1. You start by grating the zest from the orange with a microplane grater. This is essential in my mind because the microplane produces a super fine orange zest that fairly melts into the sauce. -No chewy bits of rind around here please!-
  2. Then to that you add the juice of that same orange along with the cranberries, water, and a touch of sweetener.
  3. Next up you simmer until the cranberries begin to pop.
  4. And finally you adjust the amount of sweetener to your taste, and thicken it with a touch of tapioca/cornstarch if desired.
Easy Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce | Get Inspired Everyday!

Tip: You can make this Cranberry Orange Sauce 2-3 days in advance, and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve. I like to warm it briefly on the stove before serving.

Easy Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce | Get Inspired Everyday!


How do you thicken cranberry sauce?

Cranberries naturally contain a lot of pectin which will thicken up as your cranberry sauce cools. You can also mix together 1-2 teaspoons tapioca or cornstarch until smooth. Then add it to the simmering sauce while whisking constantly, and simmer just until thickened. But do keep in mind that the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools due to that pectin we talked about above!

Should I use fresh or frozen cranberries for cranberry sauce?

My answer is either one works just as well, so buy whatever is more affordable. Where we live here in Montana, frozen is much more reliable and cheaper. I’ve often found the fresh cranberries (the organic ones anyways) we get here have quite a lot of moldy ones mixed in, where the frozen are mostly in good shape! I’ve made this sauce with both fresh and frozen, and I absolutely cannot tell the difference.

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

Yes! I’ve often frozen cranberry sauce for later. It’s perfect for if you want to make it way ahead, or if you have more leftovers than you’ll use. Thaw the frozen sauce in the refrigerator, and gently reheat it before serving.

What can you do with leftover cranberry sauce?

First up you can freeze the cranberry sauce for another time. I’ve also tossed my leftover cranberry sauce with sliced apples to make a cranberry apple crisp. If you have just a small amount, (say less than 1/2 cup) you might consider making a chicken salad out of it with some mayo, diced celery, and thinly sliced green onions – this is always a knockout although very pink! And finally I’ve blended it up with oranges as a cranberry orange smoothie on a number of occasions and loved it.

Easy Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce | Get Inspired Everyday!

This cranberry orange sauce recipe is part of my gluten free and paleo Thanksgiving recipes for more inspiration for a full holiday dinner!

If you make this Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce, I hope you’ll leave me a comment/rating below. I love hearing from you, and please don’t hesitate to ask questions. And of course you can always tag me over on Instagram #getinspiredeveryday, I really enjoy seeing all your creations!

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Easy Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce | Get Inspired Everyday!

Cranberry Orange Sauce

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5 from 11 reviews

  • Author: Kari Peters
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


The perfect cranberry sauce for your next turkey dinner!



1 orange

112 ounce package frozen or fresh cranberries, 3 cups

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey, or to taste

1 cup water

Optional: 1-2 teaspoons tapioca or cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Additional: 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract and/or small pinch of cinnamon


Using a microplane grater, grate just the darkest orange part of the orange zest into a medium sized saucepan. Then slice the orange in half and juice it. Add the juice, cranberries, maple syrup or honey, and water to the pan. If you want to add a touch of cinnamon, this is the time to add it!

Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer the cranberry sauce until the cranberries begin to pop and the sauce begins to thicken, 10-15 minutes.

Next you can thicken it if desired, or let it cool and thicken naturally. I prefer a thick cranberry sauce so I do use the 1-2 teaspoons tapioca depending on how runny the sauce may be. You can always simmer the sauce to reduce the liquid, but bear in mind there will be less sauce when you’re finished.

Add the optional vanilla and serve immediately. Or you can let the sauce cool and refrigerate for 2-3 days until you’re ready to reheat and serve it.


This sauce can be made ahead and refrigerate days in advance. Re-warm the cranberry sauce on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

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