Cranberry Sauce

This cranberry sauce starts a parade of recipes that I absolutely fell in love with last Thanksgiving. However, since as soon as the Thanksgiving table is cleared my head turns to Christmas so quickly it nearly spins (hello, Black Friday outlet shopping!), I immediately go into Christmas cookie mode, not so much Thanksgiving dinner-recap mode. Now that we’re back in Thanksgiving prep mode, I am thrilled to share these with you!

Now, let’s talk cranberry sauce. Growing up, the only cranberry “sauce” (I use that term loosely) I ever knew was the stuff that came out of a can. The gelled stuff that held the shape of said can until you smashed it up. This “sauce” never tempted me. Pass me the gravy, please. So last Thanksgiving when I was helping my mom put together the menu for Thanksgiving, I decided that the cranberry sauce needed to undergo a major overhaul. I found this recipe, and it was absolutely phenomenal, plus it couldn’t have been easier to make.

I love the fresh simplicity of this sauce – fresh cranberries, sugar, water, apple, orange and lemon. These bright, fresh flavors cook down together and make a fantastic accompaniment to the turkey. This only takes 20 minutes on the stove and (this is the best part!) you can make it up to a week before Thanksgiving and keep it in the refrigerator. I’m a huge fan of anything that can be done ahead of time since there’s always a time crunch on Thanksgiving day.

Did you discover any fabulous recipes last year that you’re planning to use again this year?

One year ago: Pumpkin Pie
Two years ago: Lebkuchen (German Christmas Cookies)

Cranberry Sauce

Yield: 4 cups

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


One 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried
1¾ cups granulated sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon


1. Cook the cranberries, sugar and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins on the cranberries pop open.

2. Add the apple, zests and juices and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool and serve chilled.

(Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!)


32 Responses to “Cranberry Sauce”

  1. Katrina on November 14, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Such a classic sauce!


  2. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on November 14, 2011 at 7:33 am

    This looks very good and easy!! I bought cranberries yesterday, I want to make your Upside Down Cranberry Cake. Have a great week, and thank you for sharing all of your wonderful recipes. I must save almost everyone of your e-mails with the intent of making!


  3. Penny Wolf on November 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I love the simplicity of this recipe. Cranberries bring that much needed color to the Thanksgiving table.
    Actually 2 years ago I made roasted brussel sprouts with maple syrup and bacon for the 1st time and it is a keeper. It just doesn’t compare to the soggy little army green balls of a vegtable that they are often made to be.


  4. FrannieT on November 14, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Try adding a little dried ginger to your cranberry sauce. Really makes it special.


  5. Georgia on November 14, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I love cranberry sauce – any kind. Ocean Spray makes (I think they still do) deluxe type cranberry sauces – my favorite was cranberry/orange. I’m going to try this recipe.

    Can’t WAIT for your Christmas cookies!


  6. Lisa on November 14, 2011 at 10:52 am

    My family has never served a cranberry sauce like this, but I’m going to make it this year! This looks really good!


  7. CouponClippingCook on November 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

    The orange and lemon zest sound like a perfect match for the cranberries. Sounds delicious. And love that little bowl you put it in. The cranberry sauce looks beautiful in it.


  8. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes on November 14, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Mmmm yummy and sounds so easy! Now I really need to find my zester! It’s been MIA for a while now…
    Great recipe!


  9. Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) on November 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    An oldy but a goooodie!


  10. Lori on November 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    LOVE this recipe! I have been making it every thanksgiving for 4 years now! always a big hit!


  11. Brooks at Cakewalker on November 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Michelle, This Cranberry Sauce sounds as delicious as it looks! The addition of apple must be lovely… It wasn’t until I put my foot down on the dreary canned variety that I began to adore this condiment. My best to you & yours this holiday!


  12. Rachel @ Bakerita on November 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    My grandpa is a cranberry sauce addict, but he’s the only one who likes it in my family.
    I made homemade cranberry sauce last year and everyone was devouring it.
    I’ll definitely try this recipe out on them this year!


  13. Tracy via the traveling cupcake on November 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Homemade cranberry sauce is the BEST! The morning after thanksgiving I love spreading the leftovers onto toasted bagels!


    • Michelle on November 15th, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Oh Tracy, I love your idea for using up leftover sauce, that sounds delicious!


  14. Rachel @ My Naturally Frugal Family on November 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    The cranberry sauce looks so vibrant and delicious.
    Thanks so much for sharing.


  15. Sarah Richardson on November 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I am a cranberry sauce expert! Seriously, I always get put in charge of making it and I get bored of how easy it is to make. I almost never use just sugar anymore. I use honey, agave nectar or a combo. You literally cannot mess it up!

    I also add different fruits to it. Oranges, Lemon, any berries. SO good!

    I also add things like cinnamon and nutmeg.

    Last year I made one with cranberries, honey and brown sugar and cinnamon. And another one with cranberries, agave nectar and blueberries!



  16. Ambel on November 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    hmmm, I’d love to try this, I just need to find the fresh cranberry’s cuz I want to make your cranberry upside down cake too!!! Thanks for the recipe!


  17. Carol Egbert on November 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I like roasted cranberry sauce. Here’s a link

    Happy holidays


  18. Faythe on November 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Yay for cranberries! I posted a recipe for cranberry sauce today, too. I’ve only ever used the recipe on the back of a bag of cranberries. I love that you add apple and citrus in yours. I’ll have to try that.


  19. Ann on November 15, 2011 at 1:02 am

    GREAT cranberry sauce! We grew up with the same stuff from the can…UGH! I’ll never serve that again after having homemade cranberry sauce!


  20. Kate Koger on November 15, 2011 at 1:06 am

    In Australia you can’t get cranberries fresh or frozen so we only ever had the jar version of Cranberry sauce. But since moving to the UK I have been able to get my hands on the little red beauties. I have made my own Cranberry sauce and it was amazing. Will be making our own again this year for Xmas and lots of baking with the cranberries too!! Mmmmmmm 🙂


  21. Heather Taylor @ Kids in the Sink on November 15, 2011 at 8:45 am

    This looks great! I have been wanting to make a homemade cranberry sauce for a few Thanksgiving’s now and I am finally getting a chance to try this year! I love cranberries but I abhor the canned stuff that sits at the dinner table year after year. I’m so excited for Thanksgiving and all of the great recipes I’m finding! Thanks!


  22. kita on November 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    If you had told me 5 years ago that I would love cranberry sauce someday, I would have laughed. Now I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving table without it and this recipe looks great!


  23. foodfashionandflow on November 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    This looks so yummy. Nothing like a classic cranberry sauce


  24. April on November 15, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    My mom always adds a pinch of cinnamon to her cranberry sauce. Can’t wait to try your version with the orange and lemon juice. Looks delicious!


  25. RisaG on November 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I like making my homemade spicy cranberry relish for the T’day table every year. It has chipotle in it and Grand Marnier. So good. This looks so pretty and delicious.


  26. Kim Daly on November 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I made this last night and it is delicious! I had to stop myself from eating it all warm from the stove! Will be reposting on!


  27. Doskogirl on November 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I cannot wait to try this! I pinned this immediately to one of my Pinterest Boards!


  28. Ang on November 26, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Just had to tell you – I made this for thanksgiving and it was a hit! More than one person said they just wanted to eat it straight out of the bowl. Delicious!!


  29. built in fridge on June 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    I love the simplicity of this recipe. Cranberries bring that much needed color to the Thanksgiving table.


  30. Carolin on November 20, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Hi Michelle,
    I live in Germany and I don’t think that I can get fresh cranberries here. Do you think I could adapt the recipe and use dried cranberries instead? Do you have such a recipe?
    Thank you for your great ideas!
    Greetings from Bamberg, Germany


    • Michelle on November 20th, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      Hi Carolin, I would not use dried cranberries, but you could use frozen ones, and thaw them.


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