5 Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipes for Thanksgiving

Posted on Monday, November 15, 2021

This holiday season has many of us biting our nails over the availability of products. Namely, the lack thereof. What if we can’t find one of our favorite Thanksgiving staples — canned cranberry sauce?

Making your own cranberry sauce is easier than you might think. For most recipes, you can use a small pot that doesn’t take up a whole lot of real estate on the stovetop. Even better, making cranberry sauce is fast.

How do you make cranberry sauce? You need cranberries, sugar, citrus and liquid. It’s that simple. You can also get creative by adding your favorite autumn nuts, herbs, complimentary fruits, or seasonal spices. And you don’t even have to poke around the internet to find the best recipes for cranberry sauce, because we’ve found some tasty recipe options just for you.

Simple Cranberry Sauce

Simple cranberry sauce is as true to form as it gets. All you need is a bag of fresh cranberries or a bag of frozen cranberries, thawed. The standard size bag holds 12 oz. of cranberries. If you’re using cranberry sauce for a simple dressing for a party of 8 or less, one bag is probably enough. However, if you have a larger party or you have avid cranberry lovers dropping by, you might want to consider cooking up a double batch.

First, you’ll want to wash your cranberries in a strainer. Then, you can get started cooking up a holiday favorite.

You’ll need:

12 oz. Cranberries

½ cup of sugar

½ cup of lemon juice or orange juice

½ cup of water

Pinch of salt

Cinnamon stick (optional)

In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, juice, and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Then, add your cranberries and a pinch of salt.

Stir your cranberries frequently for about 15 minutes. You will hear a popping sound as they cook. This is normal (and fun!). Once they are mostly popped, you can add your cinnamon stick. When finished, the cranberry sauce will be thick and lovely.

Balsamic and Herb Cranberry Sauce

This is one of the best variations on the classic cranberry sauce recipe if you love fresh herbs. Just like the classic cranberry sauce, it’s super easy to cook and can be ready in a matter of minutes.

You’ll love the amazing fragrances that will fill your home when cooking up this herbal cranberry sauce.

Be sure with all cranberry sauce recipes to rinse and strain your berries first. Be sure if using frozen berries that they are thoroughly defrosted before rinsing.

For this recipe you’ll need:

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

¾ cup water

¾ cup sugar (or ½ cup sugar and ¼ cup brown sugar)

¼ cup red wine or cooking sherry

12 oz. cranberries

1 tbsp. chopped rosemary (plus more for garnish)

1 tbsp. fresh sage (plus more for garnish)

1 tbsp. fresh thyme (plus more for garnish)

Lemon zest, about one teaspoon

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in your pot over medium heat, stirring well to combine. Once everything is combined, turn the heat to low. Stir occasionally for 15-18 minutes until all cranberries have “popped.” The sauce will be thick and hearty when finished.

Use leftover herbs to create a beautiful garnish once the cranberries have cooled and are ready for plating.

DIY Canned Cranberry Sauce

If you can’t live without the texture of the jellied cranberry sauce from a can, this is the recipe for you. Granted, this recipe isn’t nearly as fast to make as the others, so you may want to create this masterpiece a day ahead of time.

You will not only need a pot to create this family favorite, you will also need a high-quality blender or food processor and a silicone mold.

For this recipe you will also need:

12 oz. cranberries

2 cups orange juice

1 cup honey

8 tsp gelatin

½ cup cold water

First, blend your cranberries, juice, and honey in a blender or food processor until the mixture is smooth. Then, pour the mixture into a pot, bringing it to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low for 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove it from the heat and set it aside. Then, mix together your cold water and gelatin, letting it set per package directions, for about a minute or two. Then, mix it into the cranberry mixture until it’s dissolved. Then pour it into your mold, and cover your mold loosely with plastic wrap, letting it set up overnight.

Super Fruity Cranberry Sauce

So many beautiful fruits taste amazing mixed together with cranberries. But my personal favorite is pineapple. There’s just something about the sweetness of pineapple mixed with the tartness of cranberries that makes me smile.

You can add extras such as raisins, chopped apples, mandarin oranges, coconut flakes or walnuts to make it even more special.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice

12 oz. cranberries

2 tbsp orange juice

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1 cup sugar

Strain your pineapple juice from the can right into your pot. Then, add the cranberries, orange juice, cinnamon, and sugar. Bring the mixture just to a boil until the cranberries start to pop. Then, turn the mixture down to medium heat, and continue to stir frequently for 10-12 minutes or until thick and smooth. Then, add your crushed pineapple into the mixture and any extras you might enjoy. Serve and smile.

Cinnamon Orange Cranberry Sauce

This one is a great, simple way to enjoy some beautiful fall flavors. The ingredients are inexpensive and simple. And the flavor will complement your Thanksgiving or holiday dinner perfectly.

For this variation you will need:

Two large navel oranges, a juicer and a zester

12 oz. cranberries

¾ cup honey

¾ cup water

A pinch of salt

One cinnamon stick

Zest one orange all around onto a napkin or cutting board until the rind is thoroughly zested. Then, cut the zested orange in half and juice it into a bowl so you can easily remove any seeds that may come out.

Add cranberries, honey, water, orange juice, orange zest, salt and cinnamon stick into a pot and cook over medium heat until all the cranberries have popped. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

Remove your cinnamon stick once it’s cool and rinse the cranberry mixture off of it with cool water.

Pour your cranberry mixture into a serving bowl. Then, cut your remaining orange into thin slices to make a beautiful garnish. Place the cinnamon stick on top. And enjoy!



And for a bonus:

Cranberry “Sauced” Moscow Mule


You can make this beauty with or without the spirits, and it will taste just like the holidays.


For this fun mocktail/cocktail you will need to do the following:


Glop one heaping spoon of your favorite cranberry sauce, already made to perfection, into a cocktail shaker. Add two ounces of lime juice, fresh or bottled, into your shaker. Add one spoonful of honey to sweeten. Then, add vodka if you’d like, 1.5 oz. to be exact, or omit. Fill your shaker with ice to the top. Shake up your cranberries, honey, and lime (and vodka) until it’s well combined.


Strain the contents of your shaker into a mule mug or a festive goblet filled with fresh ice. Then, add your favorite ginger beer (which is non-alcoholic, by the way) and enjoy!


If you’re planning ahead to make this fun cocktail, keep several of your cranberries intact, and uncooked. Slice a whole lime into pretty circles, then place your circle of lime on top of your mug or glass and a skewer of pretty cranberries on top for a stylish garnish.

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