You simply can’t celebrate the holidays without whipping up some homemade cranberry sauce with orange juice. This quick-and-easy recipe is sure to become a staple in your house.
If you’re in search of a last minute side dish for Thanksgiving, give my easy cranberry sauce a try. This tasty little side dish uses just 4 ingredients and comes together in under 30 minutes.
I try to include a few make-ahead dishes with every holiday meal to lessen my kitchen time on the big day. One of the reasons I love this recipe is that I can make it a day or two in advance.
As the perfect holiday side dish, fresh cranberry orange sauce makes a tangy, sweet addition to your holiday spread. This no-fuss holiday side dish delivers on flavor.
We’re sharing tips to help you get the best results with this recipe. If you don’t need the tips, scroll to the bottom for the full recipe, including a printable recipe card.
When is cranberry season?
Cranberries are plentiful during the Fall season, as are select citrus flavors. Which makes this cranberry sauce with orange juice an ideal (and budget-friendly!) treat.
During the months of September through November, the cranberry harvest is in full swing. This is great news for cranberry lovers and those looking to get a great deal on fresh cranberries.
There are so many delicious ways to enjoy cranberries, it’s no wonder that this bright fruit is one of my favorites. Whip up a delicious Nantucket Cranberry Pie, a zesty cranberry salsa, or even incorporate cranberries into a Broccoli Salad with Bacon.
- Cranberries – we’re using fresh, whole berries
- Orange juice – fresh is best but use whatever you have on hand
- Orange zest – use a microplane for easy zesting
How to Make Fresh Cranberry Sauce
- Start by rinsing the cranberries and sorting out any duds or debris.
- Bring the sugar, orange juice and water to boil in a large pot.
- Add the berries and orange zest and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil until the berries pop open.
- Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
How to Serve
You can serve the fresh cranberry sauce warm or cold. I have to confess warm cranberry sauce is my favorite – sooo good!
For a chunkier sauce
Use a potato masher to mash the berries to your desired consistency.
For a smoother sauce
Push the berry mixture through a mesh strainer to remove chunks.
Storing Fresh, Whole Cranberries
November marks the end of the cranberry season, so don’t be afraid to stock up. As luck would have it, cranberries are one of the easiest fruits to store long term.
In the Refrigerator
Cranberries will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 weeks. Store them in the crisper drawer in the plastic bag they came in.
Remove from the refrigerator when you are ready to use them. Give them a good rinse and pick through to remove any bad cranberries or debris.
In the Freezer
Purchase extra bags of cranberries and store them in the freezer so you can enjoy this jewel-colored fruit year round. Simply stash the bags in the freezer – it’s that simple!
Cranberries typically stay good in the freezer for up to six months. Remember, when they thaw the texture may change slightly. This is usually fine if you are making pies or sauces.
If you notice any ice build-up, give the berries a quick rinse under warm water to melt the ice crystals. Make sure to pat the cranberries dry before using to avoid excess liquid messing up your recipe.
More Recipes with Cranberries
Are you a canned cranberry sauce lover? Or do you prefer the fresh sauce? I grew up eating the canned sauce, and still like it to this day so no judgement here.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice
- 2 12 ounce bags fresh cranberries
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup orange juice, fresh-squeezed is great if you have it
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 orange, zested
- Rinse the cranberries, picking out any duds and little twigs.
- Zest the surface of the orange (I use a microplane zester for this task).
- Using a large pot, combine the sugar, orange juice and water. Bring to a boil.
- Carefully add the fresh cranberries and orange zest. Return to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and gently boil for about 10 minutes (or until the cranberries pop open).
- For a chunkier sauce: mash the berries with a potato masher until desired consistency.
- For a smoother sauce: push the sauce through a fine mesh strainer.
- Allow sauce to cool before storing in the refrigerator.
- I store my cranberry sauce in Mason jars in the refrigerator for 10-14 days.
Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.