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Classic cranberry sauce is a staple on any holiday table. In just 15 minutes, with a few ingredients, you’ll have a side dish that is the perfect blend of sweet and tart. This recipe has a touch of cinnamon and is sweetened with orange juice – the perfect addition to Thanksgiving dinner!

overhead shot of cranberry sauce in white bowl

15 Minute Cranberry Sauce

Side dishes are the star of any holiday meal for me. Macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, and of course traditional stuffing always fill my plate.

But my dad’s favorite is cranberry sauce so I like to make it for him. The first time I made it I had no easy how simple it was, but now I know I can whip it up in no time with just a handful of ingredients.

It’s a light and bright side that is a nice contrast to all the heavy carbs (that I love). Plus, it’s so pretty!

pot of fresh cranberries


Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.

  • Cranberries – Either fresh or frozen will work.
  • Sugar – Granulated white sugar.
  • Brown Sugar – Light brown sugar.
  • Orange Juice – Use your favorite brand.
  • Cinnamon – Just a pinch of a good cinnamon to bring it all together.
bowl of cranberries and ingredients to make sauce

How to make cranberry sauce from scratch

Making this traditional side dish is so easy! You’ll be done in 15 minutes and never go back to the jiggly canned version.

  1. First, dissolve the sugars into the orange juice over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Once dissolved, pour in the cranberries and pinch of cinnamon.
  2. Then, you just let the berries cook until they start popping, which should be about 10 minutes. If you like a smooth texture, I go in after with a wire masher to squish some while some are left whole.

That’s it! You let it cool on the counter for 30 minutes before covering and putting in the fridge to set up and thicken.

saucepan of cranberry sauce with wooden spoon

Equipment you’ll need

  • Medium Saucepan – I’m in the market for a new one & have my eye on this one.
  • Whisk – To dissolve the sugars into the OJ.
  • Glass Storage Container – To store in the fridge after you make it and for any leftovers.

Do you serve it hot or cold?

Most people serve cranberry sauce chilled or at room temperature, but if you like it warm, serve it warm.

Can I make it ahead of time?

Even though this cranberry sauce is super easy and you can throw it together last minute, if you want to free yourself up on Thanksgiving or before a dinner, you can make it up to a week in advance.

bowl of cranberry sauce garnished with orange zest

Because most people prefer it chilled, it’s actually best to make it ahead of time and let it really come together in the fridge for a couple days.

How to store it

Homemade cranberry sauce will keep in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 weeks. If you want to keep it longer than that, it freezes well in an airtight container.

What goes well with cranberry sauce?

Besides the usual Thanksgiving or Christmas spread, it makes a great glaze for meats like turkey, ham, or chicken. You can also dip turkey & stuffing egg rolls into it.

white bowl of cranberry sauce with spoon sticking out

Does cranberry & orange go together?

The tart cranberries mixed with the citrus from the orange juice makes the perfect combination. The sugar balances it all out.

When are cranberries in season?

Fresh cranberries are harvested in the fall and you can find them in the grocery store from September through January.

Outside of their season, you can sometimes find frozen cranberries in the freezer section.

TIP: If you see fresh cranberries at the market, grab a couple bags and throw them in the freezer for the next time you need them. They’ll keep as-is.

Thanksgiving side dishes

I am here for the sides! They are the star of the show for me. Here are some essentials:

Sweet Potato Casserole – Some sweetness to your sides.

One Hour Dinner Rolls – I like to have some bread options with my dinner and these rolls are quick and easy.

Cheesy Potato Casserole – Some people call them funeral potatoes, but they’re holiday potatoes to me.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes – It’s not Thanksgiving without potatoes. Lots of em.

Brown Gravy – Homemade gravy is so easy to make and so good!

Traditional Herb Stuffing – My family loves this stuffing.

Honey Cornbread – I told you, I like options when it comes to carbs.

Oven Roasted Green Beans – I always make green beans or carrots or zucchini…or a mix of the three.

Green Chile Corn Casserole – only 8 ingredients and 5 minute prep make this delicious side a necessity.

Even more holiday sides:

Simple Garlic Knots
Cranberry Orange Cider
Holiday Garlic Herb Rolls
Green Bean Casserole
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole

View my full collection of side dishes.

scoop of cranberry sauce with title text overlay

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overhead shot of cranberry sauce in white bowl
5 from 1 vote

Classic Cranberry Sauce

Servings: 10 servings
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Classic cranberry sauce is a staple on any holiday table. In just 15 minutes, with a few ingredients, you'll have a side dish that is the perfect blend of sweet and tart. This recipe has a touch of cinnamon and is sweetened with orange juice – the perfect addition to Thanksgiving dinner!


  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • pinch cinnamon


  • To a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the sugars and orange juice and stir until dissolved.
  • Pour in the cranberries and pinch of cinnamon.
  • Cook over medium heat until cranberries start to pop, which should be about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, smash any cranberries to get your favorite texture, and let cool for 30 minutes before covering and moving it to the fridge to thicken and set up.


Use fresh of frozen cranberries. 
Can be made up to one week ahead of time and will keep for up to two weeks covered in the fridge. Leftovers can be frozen in an airtight container. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 105kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 90mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 68IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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