This cranberry-orange sauce is perfect for holiday dinners! It’s a zesty twist on a classic… one I think you’re going to love! Plus you only need a few ingredients and a little under 30 minutes to whip up this festive side dish!
If you think you don’t like cranberry sauce, but you also have only ever had it from a can, then you have to try my homemade cranberry-orange sauce! This cranberry sauce or my turkey gravy is the perfect topping for your Thanksgiving turkey!
What is Cranberry Sauce?
Who doesn’t love cranberries, with their beautiful deep red color and tart flavor?
I have to admit, I haven’t always been a cranberry lover. It’s taken me a few years (just recently) to not only give them a try but to start baking/cooking with them.
Ever since then, I’ve been mixing them into these lovely marmalade muffins, sneaking them into these delicious orange sweet rolls and popping them into french toast bakes & apple bread. So many possibilities! But today I thought I’d make them the star! And what better way to do that than make fresh cranberry sauce?!
But, what is cranberry sauce? Traditionally, cranberry sauce is a jelly-like sauce that is served chilled, as a side dish to a turkey dinner! Many like to top their turkey with the sauce, while others prefer to eat it all by its self!
How to Make Cranberry Sauce
It is so quick and easy to make and you only need a few ingredients for this recipe: sugar, water, orange juice, orange zest, cranberries, and a pinch of cinnamon. Of course, if you want to get extra fancy you can toss in some raspberries or a bit of vanilla bean paste. However, today’s version is a bit more basic.
For this cranberry-orange sauce I used Zulka® Non-GMO Project Verified sugar, or more specifically, Zulka® Morena pure cane sugar. It comes from freshly harvested sugar cane which means it has a more natural, unrefined flavor that makes it the ideal replacement for conventional sugar. Did I mention that you don’t have to do any crazy conversions? It’s a cup-for-cup substitute! And it just happens to work beautifully in this recipe!
How to Make Cranberry Orange Sauce
To start, you’ll want to set a large saucepan set over high heat. Bring the sugar, water and orange juice to a boil. then whisk the mixture to help dissolve the sugar.
Add one bag of fresh cranberries and continue boiling for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the majority of the cranberries have burst.
Once the cranberries have burst, add the orange zest and cinnamon, whisk to combine, simmer for 2 more minutes, add a tablespoon or two of additional water if needed. I like mine on the thicker side, but feel free to add more if needed.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool at room temperature- it will thicken up quite a bit as it cools (again, another reason to add some water). Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Zesting tip: To zest, just rub the orange in one direction against the zester/grater. Turn the orange as you go so you are only getting the outer skin, as the inner white pith can be bitter. If you do not have a zester or grater, use a vegetable peeler or a small, sharp knife.
Storing + Freezing
One reason I love this yummy side is that it can be made up to a week in advance! The flavors will also deepen and enhance during the week!
Before storing, let the sauce cool to room temperature and then transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate.
You can also freeze your cranberry sauce/ Just make sure to place it in an airtight container or freezer-safe Ziploc bag. For best results, defrost your frozen cranberry sauce in the refrigerator overnight and enjoy within a couple of months of freezing.
Serve it up with all of the holiday fixin’s! Enjoy the leftovers baked into scones, sweet bread, cheesecake, fruit crisp, topped on pancakes or pressed into a panini! Happy holidays!
Find more holiday dishes here:
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Brown Butter Roasted Carrots
- Instant Pot Stuffing
- Perfect Pumpkin Pie
- Slow Cooker Stuffing
Cranberry-Orange Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup pure cane sugar - OR granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water - or more if needed
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 4 cup fresh cranberries - OR frozen, (1 (12 oz) bag), rinsed
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- In a large saucepan set over high heat, bring the sugar, water and orange juice to a boil. Whisk to help dissolve the sugar.
- Add the cranberries and continue boiling for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the majority of the cranberries have burst.
- Once the cranberries have burst, add the orange zest and cinnamon, whisk to combine, simmer for 2 more minutes, add a tablespoon or two of additional water if needed.
- Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.