Easy Cranberry Orange Sauce
Delicious and good for you cranberry orange sauce is so easy to make. This tangy sweet recipe is bursting with fresh cranberries, oranges, a bit of sugar, and a dash of Grand Marnier. It can be made up ahead and refrigerated or frozen. A perfect tangy side dish.
This post may contains affiliate links. See our Discloser Policy.
Enhance your holiday feast with a delicious cranberry sauce infused with orange juice and orange zest! This most popular cranberry orange sauce side dish goes with everything from ham and pork to turkey and even livens up a leftover turkey sandwich!
This beautiful sauce is packed with health benefits and is gluten-free and vegan.
With a few ingredients and a little simmer time you can make the most delicious, homemade cranberry sauce!
MY CRANBERRY SAUCE STORY
I’m the girl who eats all the cranberry sauce no one else wants. Actually, I LOVE the canned stuff! And that’s what I happily ate at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner until my sister brought homemade cranberry orange sauce to Thanksgiving one year. And then my son-in-law, Jonathan, started making it too! The homemade version was just so delicious!
Now I’m the girl who takes home any leftover sauce (if there is any) and uses it as a marmalade on toast in the morning! YUM!
Let’s take a quick look at what you need to make Cranberry Orange Sauce. See ingredient measurements in the recipe box below.
CRANBERRIES: This recipe calls for one bag of fresh cranberries. Cranberries are notoriously bitter and sour when they are fresh. However, when they are cooked with a bit of sugar they become deliciously tangy!
I like to use fresh berries when they are in season. However, frozen berries will work too.
FRESH ORANGE JUICE: I love to use orange juice instead of water in this recipe. It infuses the sauce with citrus flavor and balances the tartness of the cranberries. Use freshly squeezed orange juice if you can.
SUGAR: Sugar tames the bitterness of the fresh cranberries and gives the sauce a sweet taste. The recipe calls for 1 cup. If you like it less sweet you can reduce the sugar to 2/3 cup.
ORANGE ZEST: This ingredient gives the zing of orange essence to the recipe.
SALT: A pinch of salt is a flavor enhancer and balances out the sweetness. This is optional, but I think it makes a difference.
GRAND MARNIER or TRIPLE SEC: These delicious liquors add a distinctive note of orange, plus a little hint of boozy flavor. This is optional. You can leave it out of your recipe if you want it to be completely non-alcoholic.
I like the fresh sweet taste of the cranberries and oranges so I don’t usually add liquor. However, we always make a boozy version of the side dish for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Cranberries are an antioxidant powerhouse according to the Cleveland Clinic. They are primarily carbohydrates and fiber and are about 90% water.
They contain vitamins C, D, and K and have lots of minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium.
They have a plethora of health benefits, so enjoy cranberry sauce!
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE THIS EASY CRANBERRY SAUCE
Here’s a list of the simple things you will need to make this recipe.
- a medium bowl to hold the cranberries and wash them
- a colander to drain the cranberries
- a dish towel or paper towels to dry the cranberries
- a sharp knife
- a Microplane rasp grater to grate the orange zest
- a reamer or juicer to get the juice from the oranges
- a medium saucepan to cook the sauce
- a measuring cup
- measuring spoons
- a wooden spoon
- an airtight container to store the sauce
INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING CRANBERRY ORANGE SAUCE
This recipe is so easy to make! I make it ahead and refrigerate it until Thanksgiving Day.
Clean and pick through the fresh cranberries.
Zest an orange and set aside 1 Tablespoon of zest, leaving behind the bitter white pith. I like to zest a little more to add to the top of the cranberry sauce just before serving.
Juice one cup of fresh orange juice.
Put the orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.
You can see in the image below I leave the pulp in the juice.
Add the cranberries and orange zest to the pot and return it to a gentle boil. Boil on medium heat for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally until half of the berries pop and the sauce has thickened.
Turn off the heat and add the Grand Marnier. Stir.
Put the sauce in a container and bring it to room temperature.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRANBERRY SAUCE AND CRANBERRY RELISH?
Cranberry sauce and cranberry relish are two different side dishes that use many of the same ingredients. The main difference is cranberry sauce is cooked and cranberry relish uses fresh chopped cranberries.
Cranberry sauce has a thickened jam consistency and the relish has a fresh salsa consistency.
Cranberry sauce is tangy sweet and relish is a little more bitter.
CAN YOU EAT RAW CRANBERRIES?
Yes, you can. However, they are quite a bitter tasting. I love the flavor but raw cranberries are not for everyone.
HOW TO CLEAN FRESH CRANBERRIES
It’s important to clean and pick through a bag of fresh cranberries. Put the cranberries in a big bowl and add fresh cold water. Swish them around to wash them and then dump them into a colander and let them drain. Put them on paper towels and pick out any bruised or spoiled cranberries as well as any leaves or debris.
CAN I USE FROZEN CRANBERRIES IN THIS RECIPE?
Yes, you don’t even need to thaw them. This makes the recipes super easy. So you can make this yummy recipe when cranberries are out of season.
CAN I USE REFRIGERATED ORANGE JUICE?
Yes, use either freshly squeezed orange juice or already bottled juice. Both are fine. Since orange zest is in the recipe, I buy a few more oranges and squeeze them for fresh juice.
Water can be substituted in the recipe in pinch.
HOW DOES CRANBERRY SAUCE THICKEN
When the cranberries are cooked the berries burst and release pectin, a natural thickener. So the sauce becomes thicker. The trick to the perfect cranberry sauce is to cook the sauce and stir it gently until some of the berries burst and some stay whole.
The image below has a split or just opening berry and a whole berry on the wooden spoon. However, this is not a berry that has burst. When cranberries burst they split open and the flesh is totally exposed. You can actually hear some of them pop.
When all the berries burst the sauce has been overcooked and will be too thick. If this happens just add more liquid until you get the consistency you like.
Aim for about half to two-thirds of the berries to burst. This is the sweet spot!
CAN I MAKE FRESH CRANBERRY SAUCE AHEAD?
Lots of yeses in this recipe! Yes, you can make this recipe ahead. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
CAN I FREEZE CRANBERRY ORANGE SAUCE?
This sauce freezes so well. Make sure the sauce is completely cooled and then put it in an airtight container and stick it in the freezer. When you want to eat it take it out of the freezer and thaw it. It will be ready to eat.
WHAT ELSE CAN I ADD TO HOMEMADE CRANBERRY SAUCE
There are so many other flavors you can add to this cranberry sauce. Here are a few:
- a cinnamon stick
- star anise
- dried fruit
- chopped nuts like pecans
- candied orange peel
- maple syrup
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER CRANBERRY SAUCE
Leftover cranberry sauce is a gift! It can be used to enhance so many dishes like leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Roast turkey and cranberry sauce is a quintessential match made in heaven!
But what else can you do with cranberry sauce? Here are a few ideas…
- Cranberry sauce is a perfect glaze to use on almost any protein like ham, salmon, and pork.
- Use it as a jam on toast or as a filling in a cake.
- Mix cranberry sauce with barbecue sauce for a sweet and tangy taste.
- Add it to a smoothy.
- Mix it with mayonnaise and use it as a sandwich spread.
- Add cranberry sauce to a slaw mix.
- Make it part of a delicious vinaigrette for salads.
- Use it in thumbprint cookies or filling for shortbread sandwich cookies.
- Add cranberry sauce to meatballs.
- Add it to hot wing glaze.
- Add it to ketchup to make a great dipping sauce.
CRANBERRY ORANGE SAUCE RECIPE
CRANBERRY ORANGE SAUCE
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 TBS orange zest
- 2 TSP Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
- Put the sugar, salt and the orange juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a slow boil and dissolve the sugar, Stir occasionally.
- When the sugar is dissolved, add the bag of cranberries and the orange zest. Stir.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to medium heat, stirring occasionally. When half to two-thirds of the cranberries have burst take them off the heat.
- Add the Grand Marnier or Triple Sec and stir gently to combine.
- Cool the sauce completely and put it into an airtight container.
- Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
I hope this delicious Cranberry Orange Sauce makes its way to your Holiday table!
LINKS TO KITCHEN GOOD FOR THIS POST
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE THESE RECIPES…
BEAUTIFUL CRANBERRY ORANGE BUNDT CAKE
10 CHRISTMAS COOKIES FROM ONE DOUGH
MAKE AHEAD HOLIDAY BEEF BRISKET
In the past, I’ve added orange marmalade to my cranberry sauce (while cooking) when I ran out of oranges. Delicious. Can’t wait to try your recipe.
Laurene, what a great idea! Thanks so much for the tip!!!! Happy Thanksgiving!
I love your recipes! They use ingredients that I already have and are delicious!
Thank you so much Cecilia. This sauce is a winner!
This sounds delicious. I may have missed it but what size bag of cranberries? 12 oz. smaller bag or the larger one? I think it’s 24 ounces. Thank you for sharing!
Ho Traci, cranberries come in 12 oz bags. Enjoy the Cranberry Orange Sauce!