Home » Recipe Index » Side Dishes

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Cranberry orange sauce is the perfect blend of sweet and tart with fresh whole cranberries and zest from an orange. Served hot with your holiday meal and cold on leftover turkey sandwiches.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, please read my disclaimer.

Cranberry Orange Sauce in a bowl with orange zest on top

Easy to make cranberry orange sauce is going to make you ditch the canned stuff for good! This healthy, easy cranberry sauce can be made from fresh or frozen cranberries, plus fresh orange juice and zest from an orange peel, for an amazing side dish perfect for a holiday table. 

This cranberry sauce recipe is such a huge hit at our house that I have to make a double recipe — it is a huge part of our leftover cravings too! I love cranberry flavor but grew up on the overly sweetened, jellied variety of cranberry sauce. This recipe is the perfect combination of tart cranberries and sweet oranges and can be easily adjusted to your family’s tastes.

It also helps that this recipe smells amazing while it cooks! It really helps everyone get in the holiday spirit!

Ingredients for recipe in white bowls on a white background

How to Make Cranberry Orange Sauce

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

Save This Recipe!
Enter your email and we'll send this recipe right to your inbox. Plus you'll get amazing recipes in our newsletter!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

STEP ONE: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberries, orange zest and juice, sugar (to taste), and ground cinnamon. I love using fresh whole cranberries, but I’ve used frozen cranberries as well.

Cranberry sauce ingredients put into a saucepan on a white background

STEP TWO: Stir, add a cinnamon stick (if using), and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes — or until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens.

STEP THREE: Remove from heat, discard the cinnamon stick, and allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. If you prefer the texture, you can break down the cranberry sauce further with a potato masher. 

Cooked cranberry orange sauce in a saucepan with a wooden spoon in it

Tips to Make the Best Cranberry Sauce Recipe

  • Don’t pass on the zesty citrus flavor. It really balances the tartness in this cranberry orange sauce and sweetens up the dish. Oranges and cranberries taste like they just go together!
  • Adjust the sweetness. You can increase or decrease the granulated sugar to your preferred level of sweetness. So taste a little as you go! We also like to make cranberry sauce with orange juice instead of water. The combination of orange juice added with orange zest sweetens up the cranberry sauce.
  • Don’t want the added sugar? You can use a sugar substitute. Or, try the flavor of honey or maple syrup in your homemade cranberry sauce. 
  • Serve it hot or serve it cold! Both are delicious. Your Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner will never be the same!
  • Make a double batch! You’re going to want leftovers!
Bowl of cranberry sauce with orange zest on top with cinnamon sticks and oranges around it

Ways to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce in a bowl with a spoon surrounded by oranges ad cinnamon sticks

Can I Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Frozen Cranberries?

Absolutely! I have found that I need to stock up on fresh cranberries at the grocery store well before big holiday meals because my area tends to run out of them early.

As soon as they pop up in the fresh food section, I grab several bags of fresh whole cranberries and pop them in my freezer at home. 

I don’t thaw them ahead when I make this cranberry orange sauce. Considering this recipe for cranberry sauce with oranges requires the cranberries to cook until they burst, I let the stove do all the work.

Spoonful of cranberry sauce with bowl of it in the background

How Do You Get Bitterness Out of Cranberry Sauce? 

We sweeten this cranberry sauce with orange juice in addition to the orange zest. That really helps balance the tart flavor and gives you the best results.

If your berries are more tart than usual, you can sweeten them up with a little sugar, maple syrup, or honey. You can also add a pinch of salt to bring out the sweet flavor without tasting salty.

Closeup good cranberry orange sauce in a bowl with orange zest on top

How Long Will Cranberry Sauce Last in the Refrigerator?

Homemade cranberry orange sauce will last for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Make sure you store it in an airtight container. Orange cranberry sauce is a great make-ahead candidate for big dinners like Thanksgiving or Christmas. 

You can also freeze cranberry sauce for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

What to Serve with This Orange Cranberry Sauce

cranberry orange sauce in a bowl with a spoon with cinnamon sticks and oranges around it

More Cranberry Recipes

Cranberry Orange Sauce in a bowl with orange zest on top

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Samantha Erb
Cranberry orange sauce is a perfect combination of sweet orange and tart cranberry flavors. Easy to make and perfect to make ahead.
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 6 minutes
Total Time 26 minutes
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 93 kcal


  • 12 ounces cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 1 large orange zest and juiced (4-5 tablespoons of juice)
  • 1/2-1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • Place cranberries, orange zest and juice, sugar (to taste), and ground cinnamon in a saucepan set over medium heat.
  • Stir, add a cinnamon stick (if using), and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens.
  • Remove from heat, remove and discard the cinnamon stick, and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.


Serving: 1gCalories: 93kcalCarbohydrates: 24gSodium: 1mgFiber: 2gSugar: 19g

This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

5 from 16 votes (16 ratings without comment)

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating


as seen on promo graphic


as seen on promo graphic