Do Not Buy A Can Of Cranberry Sauce: Easiest Recipe Ever

November 21, 2013   43 Comments

A few days ago, Snack Girl received a request for a recipe for cranberry sauce. Yes, I take requests.

Simplest Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Free bird!!!

(not that kind of request)

I have attended a Thanksgiving where a gelatinous can-shaped thing arrived at the table and it was dubbed “cranberry sauce”. Oh no. You see, I am a cranberry sauce snob.

I learned that all you have to do is the recipe below and you have mind-blowing cranberry sauce. It is so simple and almost as easy as opening a can and plopping said purplish goop in a bowl. Believe me.

Fresh cranberries can be found EVERYWHERE right now in your produce section. Yes, they might set you back $3 but your family and friends will applaud when you serve this.

Above in the photo is my pot of cranberry sauce bubbling away for all of 10 minutes. At the stage in the photo, the berries are just about to pop.

I mix in ground cinnamon and ground ginger because I am super lazy (do not want to peel ginger or buy cinnamon sticks). I shake in about ½ teaspoon each until I like the flavor.

The sauce firms up in the fridge and looks beautiful when served in a bowl (unlike the other stuff).

Do you make fresh cranberry sauce? How do you make it?

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

1.6 from 24 reviews

Makes 2 cups

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1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 cups (1 12-ounce package) fresh cranberries
Optional: ground cinnamon, ground or fresh ginger, orange zest, pecans, walnuts, allspice, raisins, dried apricots


Wash cranberries and check for duds. In a saucepan, mix sugar, water, and cranberries. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.

Add optional ingredients and then chill in refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts

For a two tablespoon serving: 59 calories, 0.0 g fat, 0.0 g saturated fat, 15.4 g carbohydrates, 13.1 g sugar, 0.1 g protein, 1.1 g fiber, 4 mg sodium, 2 Points+

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

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I've made a few different versions of this and love it more than anything. I often dream about it throughout the year. That stuff in the can doesn't hold a candle to this one. It just keeps getting better and you will want your Turkey Day leftovers even more!

I have also made this but used Splenda instead of the sugar. Everyone loves it and 0 WW PP for 1/4 cup!

Bit suprised you are offering the hungry girl cook book. She is great in cutting calories but uses a lot of processed foods. I s healthy eating not to eat as less as possible processed foods?

Love fresh cranberry sauce. Picked 20 lbs myself this year. You can freeze them whole and use them the rest of the year. Ialso have a batch of cranberry wine brewing.

For healthier version I am going to try organic cane sugar, some stevia so I can cut back on sugar, and chia seeds to thicken a bit and makes it thicker.

I grew up with only the canned stuff being served and consequently lived for 30 years thinking I hated sister made Spiced Cranberries with Zinfandel from Gourmet mag about 10 years ago and it was life-changing :) it's now a staple at our thanksgiving, and it soo easy. You can use much less sugar than the recipe calls for too and it is still delicious!…

What do "duds" look like? Not a cook, can you tell.

I've made fresh cranberry sauce for decades. I usually use 16 oz, (1 lb.). Also, if you feel the bubbling mixture is too foamy, plop in 1/4 tsp. butter or margarine.

Mary W. -- "duds" are berries that look too squishy; pale ones are fine to use.

I usually have a recycled large glass jar ready, sitting on the counter with very hot water in it. Dump the water out, pour sauce in and close with lid and the sauce will stay good in your refridge for a VERY long time -- it must be so high in acid I have never had mold or had to throw it out.

Thank you Snack Girl for this receipe. I love the picture too. I will definitely be making this. I have one question. How long will this cranberry sauce last in the fridge? I just might not be able to wait until Thanksgiving to try this out.

I put a jar of orange marmalade and a cup of raisins in mine. It's almost like a chutney!

I also slice some apple into the cranberries while cooking. And just this year, I got adventurous and added the really dry apricots. Definitely a different taste and those apricots puffed up into a delicious squishy chew. :-) Thickened the sauce also for some reason.

I too use Splenda and make this about 3xwk since I can eat this "relish" as a dessert easily during fresh cranberry season!

Here is another tip - fresh cranberries are only available now, and since cranberry sauce is part of our Easter and New Year's day meals, buy extra now and freeze them! Otherwise, it is the canned stuff that is all you can get!

I've made this for years and will never eat canned again. Made with Splenda last year. This year will try Domino Light sugar and stevia blend. I eat way more than 2 tbsp it's so good!

We have always done the version on the bag of Ocean Spray cranberries - I don't know the proportions off the top of my head, but you grind up cranberries, sugar, and oranges in the food processor. Delish! Your recipe sounds good too.

You can use this same recipe but instead bake in the oven in a 9X13 pan for about 30 min. until berries puff up and sugar is dissolved (stir once or twice). Adding a little orange juice works great but 1/4 cup of Brandy is even better! You can use leftovers (if there are any) to make an oatmeal square with cranberries in the middle of layers of oatmeal crust and topping. Yum.

I love that recipe and make it sugar free with either Splenda or stevia. No one misses the sugar.

I have made homemade forever, jellied stuff is worst thing on earth. I always have bags in freezer. Also use stevia to cut sugar. Make it all year cuz I love it in my morning oatmeal.

I make acranberry relish. In a food processor, process 1 pound fresh (or frozen) cranberries, 1 whole apple, and 1 orange. You can quarter the apple and orange, but don't bother coring the apple and certainly don't peel the orange. Process until chunky. Add sugar/honey/sweetener if you feel it is too tart.

Make it even more fun by adding 1 or 2 jalapenoes to the processor.

I'm glad someone else is a cranberry sauce snob too! I'm always in charge of it for our family haha xo

Big interest in cranberry - my mom always makes a recipe like this, plus the cran/orange relish - YUM! but... I still need to bring a can of the jelly for my "picky" husband - he doesn't know what he's missing! Like all the suggestions - may have to make some for myself & keep in the fridge!

I add a squirt of OJ and some orange zest...

I chop 1 pkg fresh cranberries, 4 apples, 4 oranges and mix with 1 large box red jello (mixed per directions with water - typically use black cherry, but any flavor works), and sugar to taste. My MIL adds a can of crushed pineapple, and chopped walnuts. Chill in the fridge overnight.

I've been making this for many years now. A couple of years ago I made it for a "potluck" lunch at work and everyone loved it. As a matter of fact, I made some last night, Wednesday, for our potluck this coming Friday. Love, love, love it -- hate that canned stuff (just my opinion).

Sorry, I love jellied cranberry or cranberry in any form. Why try to get everyone to use less sugar then post a recipe using and entire cup? You just posted a link showing how detrimental sugar is. : ) Why? My diabetic news letter suggested a new product made from vegetables and fruits called SWERVE. It is non glycemic and has no artificial ingredients and measures out the same as sugar. It comes in granular and confectioners. Just in time for my homemade cookies with icing and colorful edible paper wafers from Fancy I will make cranberry sauce with Swerve and blend half to make it thicker. Seriously, add an orange, pulp and all for sweetness too. The flavor is divine. If you like nuts, we in the South and Southwest grow a lot of pecans. Chopped, they are a wonderful textural addition. How about avoiding sugar spikes this year!

I make mine with a blend of organic sugar and stevia. Brandy? That's freakin' brilliant. I need to try that. I bet orange liqueur may be nice too...

I have a question for those of you that use orange juice - does that add enough sweetness to avoid using any other kind of sweetener?

I love making it. I use 1/2 c sugar & add 3 T orange marmalade. My family, however, does not like it...texture issues I think. I love the homemade!!

Henriette between your comments about Hungry girl, cranberries and wine making I have decided that I REALLY LIKE YOU!! Can I come stay at your house?

My husband and I always welcome visitors. Only condition is that they leave after a few days.

Orange juice alone will probably not be sweet enough for this recipe. If you use fresh oranges, they all differ for intensity of sweetness. I will be using Truvia or Swerve (new) as a sweetner. Also, Nectresse is made from fruits so I think it is pretty good too if you don't want to use sugar. It is a more intense sweetner than Splenda. It is great to have so many choices.

Hi I_Fortuna! Last year I used Nectresse and it made it taste metallic. It was awful. I guess i will try Stevia this year. although, the really sweet tooths in my family won't touch any kind of cranberry, so I might be able to get away with orange juice. We also like to mix raspberries in.

Hi Patti, I have never noticed a metallic taste to Nectresse but everyone is different. Stevia might just be the ticket for you. Also, SWERVE, which is new may be good. It is currently rather expensive but they make a confectioners sugar sub that I would like to use for sugar free cookies. Good luck on your choices. It is wonderful to at least make some traditional recipes that are sugar free. I have been sugar free for so long (even before my diabetes) with such a limited recipe box that new products are inspiring. : )

BTW, if anyone else tries Swerve, please let me know how you like it. It is new to me too. Also, I understand that unlike other sugar subs, Swerve will caramelize. Therefore, we may be able to make certain kinds of candy that we could not before. I realize I am getting ahead of myself but I am ready to try it.

Hi I_Fortuna - yes, I had heard that everyone reacts to artificial sweeteners differently. This makes me leery, especially with the expensive ones, because who knows how my taste will react, and then that money is down the drain - or I will suffer to use it due to tight funds. I wonder if there are sample packets of swerve available? I'll look for it the next time I am shopping!

You all are making me brave to try new ways of doing things! Thanks to all!

l make it almost the same but use 1cup of orange juice to replace the water...INCREDIBLE!!

I have made a similar recipe using dark brown sugar. At the end of cooking I add 2 cups of red grapes. Yummy!

Just made two batches-one plain, one with orange zest. Accidentally put the zest in before cooking (oops!) and substituted the juice of the orange for some of the water. It's to die for! So, even if you mess this one up, it's amazing!

I want to thank you for this recipe. I'd never, ever had real cranberry sauce until five days ago and it was your recipe that I tried. And I have to say I really loved it. I kept saying to my husband, smell this, it smells like 'real' cranberry sauce. I boiled it a lot longer than you suggested because I was worried I wouldn't get that real jelly consistency that I'd been so accustomed to. By the time I let the mixture cool, it was so jellified it made my transition to real cranberry sauce so wonderful and exciting. I will never go back to canned! Thank you!

I reduced the sugar to 1/4 cup, used 1/4 c. apple juice and juice as well as zest of one orange. Really, a whole cup of sugar is not necessary!

I use apple juice instead of water, no sugar, red jello mix, cinnamon applesauce, chopped mandarin oranges, Harry. & David's cranberry relish in a jar & pecans. I freeze it to have all year long!

I substitute port wine for the water. Adds an interesting flavor depth to the sauce. Also, keep several bags all year in the freezer and add some to unsweetened applesauce, which I serve warm. Nice accompaniment to pork and other meats.

why is mine not thickening???

Anette: Happy Thanksgiving! This is what I do to thicken my cranberry sauce. Add 1/2 Tbs of pectin. The pectin helps the sauce thicken. Apples contain pectin and will help to thicken the sauce too.

Adding a small package of gelatin will work well if you like more of a jelly texture.

Also, the longer you cook the sauce or bring to a rolling boil the more water will cook off or evaporate which will result in a thicker sauce. Be sure you only use 1 cup of liquid. Apple, orange or pomegranate juice work well.

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