Made from 5 ingredients, this easy sauce is ready after 15 minutes on the stove. It thickens as it cools. You can use fresh or frozen cranberries. See notes.
- 12 ounce bag cranberries, rinsed*
- 3/4 cup (150g) water
- 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh orange juice (about 1/2 large orange)
- 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar*
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Read before you begin: You need fresh orange juice and orange zest. I recommend zesting the orange first, setting the zest aside, then cutting the orange for the juice. (Harder to zest a cut orange!) You need about half of a large orange for 1/4 cup juice. Juice the other half of the orange if you need more to yield 1/4 cup.
- After rinsing the cranberries, set 1/2 cup cranberries aside. You will stir these in at the end for extra texture.
- Combine the remaining cranberries, water, orange juice, and brown sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally as the mixture comes to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to low-medium. While stirring occasionally, continue to cook until liquid has reduced and cranberries have burst and thickened, about 10 more minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup reserved cranberries, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Sauce is excellent served warm or at room temperature. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prepare the sauce 3 days ahead of time. Cool completely, cover tightly, then refrigerate until ready to use. Bring to room temperature or warm on the stove/in the microwave, if desired, before serving. To freeze, cool sauce completely. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or warm on the stove/in the microwave before serving.
- Cranberries: One 12 ounce bag is usually between 3 and 4 cups. You can use fresh or frozen cranberries. No need to fully thaw. Rinse the cranberries with water in a colander before using. No need to pat dry– some water droplets are fine.
- Brown Sugar: I usually use 3/4 cup brown sugar, which makes a moderately sweet cranberry sauce. You can increase to 1 cup (200g) if you prefer your cranberry sauce extra sweet.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Zester & Citrus Juicer
Keywords: cranberries, Thanksgiving, side dish