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Is it Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? We have all had the canned stuff with those pretty ridges that are sliced and styled on a decorative angle to channel our inner Martha Stewart. Making cranberry sauce takes less than 15 minutes, can be made days in advance, and tastes so much better than any store-bought sauce. So say no to buying any more cans of the jellied cranberry sauce. And honestly, is that stuff even really sauce?
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
Orange cranberry sauce requires just 5 ingredients to make and no special gadgets or equipment.
The complete ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Cranberries: For this recipe, we used frozen cranberries but you can use fresh (but dehydrated or dried won’t work.)
- Orange Juice and Zest: To add brightness and to balance some of the cranberry tartness we add freshly squeezed orange juice and a little orange zest. It is tempting to use a carton of orange juice but don’t since they are not all 100% pure orange juice.
- Sugar: Cranberries are extremely tart, so in addition to adding some sweetness to the cranberry sauce, the sugar helps to balance it out.
- Salt: Seems odd to add salt to cranberry sauce, but it enhances the sweet-tart flavor so don’t leave it out.
How to Make Orange Cranberry Sauce
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: Zest the oranges before you juice them.
1. Bring to a Boil: In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine sugar, water, orange juice, and salt and bring to a boil.
2. Add the Cranberries: Add the cranberries and orange zest and leave it on a high setting. Once the pot has come back to a boil, reduce to medium heat and allow it to boil gently for 10 to 12 minutes until most of the cranberries have burst open.
3. Allow to Cool: Transfer the orange cranberry sauce to a serving bowl, cover, and chill to allow the sauce to thicken.
How to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry orange sauce is more than just a side for turkey and stuffing. Leftover cranberry sauce can be used in a variety of recipes.
- For Breakfast: Add it to your favorite yogurt or use it as a topping for pancakes, waffles, French toast, or crepes.
- For Appetizers: Top your favorite crostini with goat cheese (or brie) and cranberry sauce or make cranberry brie tartlets.
- For Lunch: Mix it with mayo for a quick and easy sandwich spread or as a topping on your favorite burger.
- For Dinner: Use it as a glaze for grilled pork, chicken, or beef, or turn it into a BBQ sauce.
- For Dessert: It’s a great topping for ice cream and cheesecake or turned into a cranberry cobbler.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Make the cranberry sauce in advance. While it only takes 15 minutes to make and it’s tempting to wait, don’t. Cranberries contain pectin which means the sauce takes time to thicken as it cools, so make it a few hours ahead of serving or a even couple of days before.
- The cranberry sauce is too thick. If the cranberry sauce has gotten too thick add a couple of splashes of orange juice or water until it gets to the consistency you want.
- The cranberry sauce is too thin. If the cranberry sauce is thin then it probably hasn’t cooked long enough and the pectin hasn’t had enough time to thicken up the sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cranberry sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-5 days. It can also be frozen in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Allow frozen cranberry sauce to defrost in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before serving.
Let’s Connect! If you make our Orange Cranberry Sauce or any other recipe on Casual Epicure, please don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are considering making our recipes and we love hearing about your cooking experiences. And if you snapped some shots, share them on Instagram, and be sure to tag @casual.epicure so we can feature them in our stories.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this holiday recipe, we recommend checking out some of these other Thanksgiving recipes:
Orange Cranberry Sauce
- 1 Medium Saucepan (2.5 Quarts)
- ½ cup fresh orange juice, from two medium oranges
- ½ cup water
- ¾ cup sugar
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine sugar, water, orange juice, and salt. Bring to a boil.
- Add the cranberries and orange zest and return to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for 10 to 12 minutes until most of the cranberries have burst open.
- Transfer sauce to a serving bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.