Ditch the can this holiday season. You can make and freeze Cranberry Sauce yourself for a delicious condiment to serve with all your festive meals.
A classic to serve with ham, this Homemade Cranberry Sauce is super tasty with Roasted Turkey Breast and Herbed Stuffing. Leftovers are great used in place of jam in Oatmeal Thumbprint Cookies or serve it atop Overnight Oats with Water.
If you’ve been hesitant to make and freeze cranberry sauce, either because you prefer the canned variety or just haven’t found a homemade recipe you love, I get you. That was me not too long ago.
However, knowing I had a ton of cranberries in the freezer, and knowing that homemade sauce would be healthier than most commercial brands, I decided to give it another try.
And the rest, they say, is history.
Each year I make and freeze Cranberry Sauce in bulk batches because it’s so easy and delicious.
Why Make This
It’s better than the can and many homemade recipes. I made a few adaptations to traditionally cranberry sauce that I think really work here. Especially if you’re a slow convert to homemade. Less liquid in the recipe gives you a thicker sauce that freezes beautifully.
Leftovers are delicious. You’re going to want to make and freeze cranberry sauce in bulk so you can have leftovers! It’s delicious with holiday dinner leftovers, but you can also or use it as a jam or fruit sauce substitute.
Cranberry Sauce is great in baked goods. It’s great on oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles and amazing baked into Kate’s Oatmeal Jam Bars or any baking recipe that calls for jam.
Here’s what you need to make and freeze Cranberry Sauce:
fresh cranberries – Stock up on berries when they go on sale during or after the holidays. I usually buy a half a dozen bags on clearance to stash in the freezer. If you love fresh cranberries as much as we do, be sure to try our Cranberry Cookies.
dark brown sugar – I use brown sugar instead of white. I personally love the hint of molasses that brown sugar provides. You can use whatever sugar you have, but try it with dark brown sugar. So good.
water – You don’t need a lot of water as you don’t want the cranberry sauce to be too thin and runny.
orange juice – Oranges and cranberries are a classic combo, but I’ve never cared for the texture of the orange peel. It detracts. Instead I subbed in fresh orange juice for some of the liquid to add another layer of flavor. Without the bitter peel. You can also use frozen orange juice is that’s more economical.
Here’s how to make and freeze Cranberry Sauce:
Prep step – Wash the berries. My mother-in-law, New England-born and raised, says you need to put them in a bowl of water. Use what floats. Ditch any that sink. Those are bad.
1. Combine the cranberries, sugar, water, and orange juice in a medium stockpot. Stir well to dissolve the sugar.
2. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the berries split and the sauce thickens.
Transfer the mixture to a covered container. Chill until ready to serve. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To freeze cranberry sauce: Transfer the chilled container to the freezer and store for up to 2 months.
Cranberry sauce is typically a simmered concoction of fresh cranberries, water, and sugar. Some people add orange or lemon zest, ginger, or cinnamon. I like to use orange juice for some of the water.
Cranberry sauce is great with cooked meats such as chicken, turkey, pork, or roast beef. The cool sauce is a tasty foil to the hot meat and trimmings. It’s a perfect budget Thanksgiving recipe since cranberries often go on sale. Cranberry sauce is also delicious on ice cream, oatmeal, or pancakes.
Yes! This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is an ideal Thanksgiving Recipes to Make-Ahead and Freeze. Cook the sauce according to the recipe instructions. Cool and chill before storing in the freezer. Be sure to label with with the recipe name and date so you can be sure to use it at the right time.
Cranberry sauce is meant to be served cold, but warmed sauce would not be amiss on a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
I attempted making jellied cranberry sauce a few years ago, using this recipe. It worked, but I felt that there was just too much going to waste once I strained away the seeds and peels. A lot of work yielded too little sauce.
So, the point of Good Cheap Eats is to:
- Enjoy great food.
- Spend less.
- Not go crazy in the kitchen.
This recipe fits the bill on all counts since it tastes much better than the canned variety and it has a better ingredients list. Plus, it’s easy to make and freeze cranberry sauce! But, can you save money?
Here’s how the numbers crunch:
- fresh cranberries – $0.98
- dark brown sugar – $0.33
- orange juice – $0.10
While your costs may vary depending on where and how you shop, you can expect to pay about $1.41 for a batch of Cranberry Sauce.
You can save even more by buying the cranberries on sale. Around the holidays, you should find them for about a dollar. I’ve found them as low as 25-cents a bag on clearance. At those times, I stock up and stash them in the freezer for all kinds of baking and saucing needs.
More Great Thanksgiving Dishes
Tell us what you think!
We love to hear your experiences with Good Cheap Eats. Click the STARS on the recipe card or leave a STARRED comment to let us know what you think of the recipe.
Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries may be frozen
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup orange juice
- In a large saucepan combine the cranberries, sugar, water, and juice.
- Bring to a boil, stirring.
- Cook at a low rolling boil, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
- Cool completely at room temperature, then cover and chill in the refrigerator until cold. Serve cold with cooked meats.
This post was originally published on November 11, 2013. It has been updated for content and clarity.
I never thought I could make my own cranberry sauce just because I get easily intimidated by making food for a crowd and then having it not turn out the way they expect. Everyone LOVES this recipe and it is easy. I’m going to make it the day before??
I never thought about making my own cranberry sauce. The canned stuff holds fond memories for my mother, so we always go with that. One year, I decided to try this recipe. So happy I did! It’s the first food requested when I ask what to have on thanksgiving! Delicious!
This recipe looks amazing. I’ve always been intimidated by cranberry sauce because my father-in-law simmers it for an hour so it seemed hard to make
Can’t wait to try this easy recipe!
Talk soon on email.
I found that a lot of recipes out there call for a lot of liquid. Trying that strategy required a long cooking time and sometimes the sauce was too watery for our liking. (We are converts from canned.) This version has a lot less liquid so it cooks more quickly. A slightly different flavor that the long cooking kind. I found when I did it in the slow cooker, it needed even less liquid because the end result was a little too watery for me.
My recipe is my mothers and we all love it. It has apples, orange sections, pecans, cranberries ( these are chopeed in a food processer) and then she used knox geletin , just enough to make it not runny . You are so right, it is not Thanksgiving without it. I already have regular cornbread dressing, gluten free cornbread dressing, turkey gravy, squash casserole, mashed potato casserole, sweet potato casserole, pecan pie, gluten free crustless pecan pie, and 2 german chocolate cakes in the freezer, (one a surprise for a friend). If I didn’t do it ahead since I am getting older, I wouldn’t have the stamina to hold out. This puts the fun back in Thanksgiving. Best to you and your family.
Good for you and your freezer stash. Nicely done!
I made your cranberry sauce and asked my mom to try it before I froze it for Thanksgiving. I’d already put most in my freezer bag but gave her a bit on a spoon. She took a taste reluctantly, noting she doesn’t usually enjoy cranberry sauce, and then proceeded to scrape what was left out of the bowl. She said “I guess I like this sauce.” 🙂
Yay! I love it! Thanks for taking the time to let me know. 🙂
Although we prefer it with apple juice instead of orange (what is it with me and citrus–I did try it that way first), I’m glad I saw this as we have enjoyed making our own for the last couple of months. Was at Kroger this morning and what did I find? $ 0.59 bags—considering price increases I decided to run with it and bought a LOT of bags. The Fam was a bit concerned. Making a double batch to have handy over the New Years break & some for the freezer. Now to remove the turkey (I toss one in the freezer during the Thanksgiving sales) from the freezer so I have room for the rest of the cranberries. I want to try that coffee cake of yours with some of these too.
I would have bought A LOT of bags, too! Good for you!
Jessica, do you think this would freeze well? I have company coming and want to make as many things as I can ahead of time. Thanks for your thoughts!
I didn’t freeze mine, but I’ve been told that you can do so.
This is similar to the recipe I’ve used for the past few years. I would suggest you add a cinnamon stick or even some ground cinnamon while it is cooking. Adds great flavor. Last year, I cut back the sugar by 1/3 cup and added some grated apple. I also added some orange zest. Tossed it all into the crock pot. When it was cooked, the flavor was good but the apple visual wasn’t great. I used the immersion blender to smooth it out a little bit. That ended up being my favorite dish on the whole menu. I found that odd, since I’ve never been a big cranberry sauce fan until I started using this recipe. I will most definitely make it this way again forever more amen.
I go for cranberry coffee cake with all the frozen bags of frozen cranberries.
And what to do with the leftover? Take those frozen pie shell/sheets (the ones you probably bought after Christmas last year like I did) and cut rounds. Fill with a tablesoon or so of cranberry sauce, fold in half and use a folk to seal. Whip an egg and brush that over the tops, dust with cinnamon sugar, poke a couple times to let the steam escape, and bake.
I don’t have any frozen pie shells but I could surely purchase one. Do you just bake until brown?
sounds yummy – super idea to use orange juice and brown sugar.
laughing at the thought of ADDING a few steps: chilling in a can (clean, of course) then running a knife along edge, release and slice.
Yes, that might be a nice touch, chilling in the can! Ha!