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Orange Cranberry Sauce

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Skip the can of jellied cranberry sauce. Our Orange Cranberry Sauce is ready in 15 minutes. Flavored with orange juice and orange zest, this cranberry sauce is a must on your Thanksgiving table.
Servings: 2 cups
Total Time: 15 minutes
orange cranberry sauce in a bowl.

Is it Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? We have all had the canned Ocean Spray sauce with those pretty ridges that are sliced and styled on a decorative angle to channel our inner Martha Stewart. But making homemade 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?

orange cranberry sauce in a bowl.

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, too. Dehydrated or dried cranberries won’t work plus they are more expensive.
  • 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.
ingredients for orange cranberry sauce

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.

water, sugar, orange juice, and salt being boiled in a saucepan

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.

cranberry sauce simmering in a saucepan

What to Serve with Cranberry Sauce


Cranberry sauce is a versatile condiment that can complement a variety of dishes. It’s sweet-tart flavor can add a delightful contrast to a wide range of dishes, so feel free to get creative with your pairings. These are a few of our favorite dishes to serve with cranberry sauce.

  • Turkey or Chicken: Cranberry sauce is a classic accompaniment to roasted or grilled turkey, chicken, or Cornish game hens, making it a staple for Thanksgiving and holiday meals.
  • Meatballs: Use cranberry sauce as a glaze for meatballs, creating a sweet and savory combination.
  • Sandwiches: Spread cranberry sauce on sandwiches, especially with leftover turkey or chicken, for a delightful twist.
  • Charcuterie Boards: Cranberry sauce can be an excellent addition to a charcuterie board or cheese platter, pairing beautifully with various cheeses like Brie or goat cheese.
  • Grilled Cheese: Incorporate cranberry sauce into a grilled cheese sandwich for a sweet and savory treat.
  • Desserts: Use cranberry sauce as a topping for desserts such as cheesecake, ice cream, or yogurt.
  • Breakfast: Drizzle cranberry sauce over pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal for a delightful morning meal.
  • Appetizers: Incorporate cranberry sauce into appetizers like meatballs, sliders, phyllo pastry bites, or mini cheese tarts.
  • Sides: Serve cranberry sauce as a side with dishes like pot pies, quiche, frittatas, or stuffed mushrooms.
  • Crostini: Create cranberry and Brie crostini by spreading cranberry sauce over toasted baguette slices and topping them with Brie cheese.
cranberry sauce in bowl served with turkey pot pie in a cast iron skillet

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.

Make-Ahead and Storage


Make-Ahead: Cranberry sauce is best when made ahead and allowed to cool. Making cranberry sauce ahead of time also allows the flavors to meld and develop, enhancing its taste. This convenient method helps you save time when preparing for holiday meals or gatherings.

How to Store: Allow the cranberry sauce to cool completely then store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days. To freeze cranberry sauce, store it in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Let the cranberry sauce thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can I add other fruits or spices to my cranberry sauce?

Yes, you can customize cranberry sauce with other fruits or peppers like apples and jalapenos or spices like cinnamon or cloves for added flavor.

How to fix cranberry sauce if it’s too tart or sweet?

If your cranberry sauce is too tart, you can add more sugar. To counter sweetness, add a splash of orange juice or orange zest.

orange cranberry sauce in a glass serving bowl

More Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes to Try


If you enjoy this holiday recipe, we recommend checking out some of these other Thanksgiving recipes:

  • Southern Cornbread Dressing – Made with cornbread, celery, onions, and sage its a Thanksgiving favorite but also delicious with chicken or pork. This cornbread casserole is the classic comfort food side.
  • Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes – Made from a cream that is infused with fresh rosemary and garlic. Simple enough for weeknight dinners, yet elegant enough to impress at holiday gatherings.
  • Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole – This easy make-ahead casserole recipe is a twist on a classic Thanksgiving side. Made with sweet potatoes, brown sugar, a couple of splashes of bourbon, and topped with candied pecans.

Let’s Connect! If you make this recipe 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.

orange cranberry sauce in a bowl.

Orange Cranberry Sauce

Posted by Melissa
Skip the can of jellied cranberry sauce. Our Orange Cranberry Sauce is ready in 15 minutes. Flavored with orange juice and orange zest, this cranberry sauce is a must on your Thanksgiving table.
5 from 1 vote

This recipe may contain paid affiliate sales links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclaimer policy for details.

Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 2 cups
Calories 410 kcal

Ingredients  

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

1. Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.  The nutritional value is only for the orange cranberry sauce and does not include any additions or substitutions.  
2. Be sure to check out the Key Ingredients along with the Recipe Tips and Notes sections found in the post, for more tips, make-ahead tips, options, substitutions, and variations for this recipe! You will also find step-by-step photos there.
Serving: 1cup | Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 100g | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 126mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 86g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 52mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg
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