What are your thoughts on cranberry sauce? Do you hate it? Or do you like the log of cranberry sauce that comes out of a can, complete with the lines from the can completely intact? If fresh, homemade cranberry sauce is your Thanksgiving style, then this tutorial on how to make cranberry sauce is perfect for you!
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When I was growing up, my grandmother always made cranberry relish for Thanksgiving dinner. Fresh cranberries, whole oranges, and sugar, all ground up together. No cooking. I liked it okay but the bitterness of the orange pith made it a little much for my young tastebuds.
We really never ate the cranberry sauce that came out of a can, and honestly, I can’t even remember when or where I first tried it. I do remember, though, that when I did try it, I realized that I had been missing out on the deliciousness that is cranberry sauce.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
And then I figured out how to make homemade cranberry sauce. I fell in love, hard, and realized that the canned stuff that you slice is just gateway cranberry sauce. I promise you, canned cranberry sauce in no way compares to homemade cranberry sauce.
Cranberries are a truly amazing little fruit. They have little pockets of air in them, and as you cook them they pop open. Full of their own natural pectin, they thicken their own sauce without the addition of packaged pectin or other thickeners. Literally, all you need to make a delicious cranberry sauce are three ingredients:
- Fresh cranberries
Cranberry Orange Sauce
I love how the flavor of orange pairs with the flavor of cranberry, so I always use some orange juice and zest to give my homemade cranberry sauce a little zip. But, if you don’t like orange or have another reason not to use it in your sauce, then just leave it out!
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I call myself a cranberry hoarder because the second that cranberries show up in my grocery store, I start throwing a bag or two into my cart every week so that I can have frozen cranberries available all year. That way, I can have homemade cranberry sauce anytime I want it. Which means that year-round I can make my Instant Pot turkey breast and some cranberry sauce and have a Thanksgiving sandwich whenever. I. Want it.
And that, my friends, is a reason to be happy.
Shared on Meal Plan Monday on Southern Bite and The Weekend Potluck on The Country Cook!
Yield: 2 1/4 cups
This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen , whose recipe is adapted from Ocean Spray .
5 minPrep Time:
15 minCook Time:
20 minTotal Time:
- 1 12-ounce bag fresh or cranberries (I freeze bags of fresh cranberries, and you can just use them straight from the freezer)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water OR the juice of one large orange plus enough water to make a cup
- zest of one orange, optional
- Combine all ingredients except orange zest, if using, in a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened and all berries have burst. I use the spoon to gently mash the berries against the side of the pan to make sure they all burst. This takes 10-15 minutes total.
- Stir in the orange zest, if using. Place the sauce into a covered container or jar and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or up to two months in the freezer.