Try this homemade cranberry sauce recipe once, and you'll never have the canned kind again! Made with 4 basic ingredients, it's easy and delicious.
Confession: I made homemade cranberry sauce for the first time this fall. Crazy, right ?! You'd think someone who's as obsessed with seasonal produce as I am would have tried a cranberry sauce recipe years ago. Nope! My family has always served canned cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, and it was never my favorite part of the meal. In fact, I usually spend it in favor of a second serving of Padding and two slices of pumpkin pie. Can you blame me?
But this fall, some fresh, locally grown cranberries in our farmers market caught my eye, and I decided to try the homemade cranberry sauce. If there's anyone else who's never made fresh cranberry sauce before, here's my advice: just do it!
This cranberry sauce recipe is quick and easy to prepare. It comes together in about 20 minutes and requires 4 basic ingredients. It has a thick, jammy texture and a sweet-tangy flavor that gets added complexity from pure maple syrup and orange zest. Try it once and you'll never have the canned type again.
Cranberry sauce recipe ingredients
You only need 4 basic ingredients to make this cranberry sauce recipe:
- Cranberries - Fresh or frozen cranberries will work here. If you are using frozen berries, it is not necessary to thaw them completely before you start cooking.
- Maple syrup - It naturally sweetens that cranberry sauce and adds a rich depth of flavor.
- Orange zest - The orange flavor is sweet here - it adds crisp depth to the sweet-tangy sauce. If you like a stronger orange flavor, feel free to add more zest to taste!
- Salt - Just a pinch! It brings out all the flavors.
Combine cranberries, maple syrup, orange zest and salt in a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring often so the syrup does not burn. As the cranberries begin to burst, reduce the heat to low and cook, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens. It will continue to thicken as it rests.
Find the full recipe with the measurements below.
Homemade cranberry sauce recipe tips
- Cook the way you like it. Homemade cranberry sauce thickens as it cools, so keep that in mind when making this recipe. Stop cooking when the sauce is slightly thinner than you would like. I like my sauce to be quite thick, with a mixture of whole and split berries, so I cook it for about 18 minutes. If you like your sauce to be thinner or have more whole berries, cook it for less time, about 12 to 15 minutes.
- Taste and adjust. Be sure to taste this cranberry sauce before serving. I love mine nice and tangy, but if you prefer a sweeter or more tangy cranberry sauce, feel free to adjust it! Add extra maple to make your sauce sweeter or add extra orange zest for a stronger orange flavor.
- Do it in advance. This homemade cranberry sauce keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If you prepare it ahead of time, let it come to room temperature before serving.
- Save the leftovers! Got some gravy from a holiday treat? Don't let it get lost! Think of the leftover sauce as a thick, tangy jam. Endow it on groats or oats for the night, add it on Pancakes or French toast, or spread it out on a sweet and savory dish fall sandwich. If you have more service ideas let me know in the comments!
More Favorite Holiday Recipes
Looking for other side dishes to complement your holiday menu? These recipes are some of my favorites:
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is easy, delicious, and naturally sweet with maple syrup. Perfect for a holiday feast!
- 4 cups fresh cranberries
- ½ Chopped off Maple syrup
- ¼ Chopped off water
- 1 teaspoon Orange zest
- Pinch salt
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cranberries, maple syrup, water, orange zest and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring often so that the maple syrup does not burn.
Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries burst and sauce thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired, and serve.
It’s easy to be cynical about the idea of New Year’s resolutions, but there is a lot of undeniable and powerful energy surrounding the idea of change at this time of year. For many of us, that change starts in the kitchen.
Maybe it means resolving to cook at home more often, to keep a well-stocked freezer and pantry, to waste less, or to make slightly more wholesome choices. Maybe, for you, this is the year in which you’d like to give veganism ( or vegetarianism ) a try.
Whether you’re trying to dip your toes slowly into the world of plant-based eating, or you’re ready to make a total shift, it can be helpful to keep a few things in mind.
Some people go vegan overnight, and they never look back. But for many others, a slow transition is more sustainable ( and pleasurable ) than a 180-degree turn. If the idea of going vegan feels daunting, start with a couple of small steps, like a Meatless Monday challenge at home, or switching one of your daily meals to a meatless and dairy-free option. ( You’d be surprised at how easy it is to trade your turkey sandwich for hummus, tempeh bacon, and avocado ).
I’m quick to say that vegan food is just food. While there are a couple of secret weapon ingredients to have on your radar ( nutritional yeast, I’m lookin’ at you ), for the most part a healthy appetite for grains, beans, and produce is all you really need to get started. With that said, any dietary shift can be tricky, and veganism is no exception. So, before you get started, take just a little time to go over the basics of plant-based nutrition. Find a useful, all-in-one resource, like Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina’s Becoming Vegan, or Ginny Messina and Jack Norris’ Vegan For Life. At some point, someone will ask you where you get your protein ( or your iron, or your calcium ), and while you could laugh the question off, it’s a lot more powerful to supply a quick, confident answer.
Going vegan expanded my palate dramatically : I learned about all sorts of global cuisines, warmed up to my spice rack, and tried ingredients I’d never considered before. But my culinary repertoire was pretty meager when I made the switch. If you already have some culinary experience, don’t assume that you’ll need to acquire an entirely new bag of tricks to eat vegan or vegetarian.
In fact, one really useful place to start is by looking at some of your favorite dinner recipes and thinking about how you might adapt them to be meatless and/or dairy-free. It may be as simple as removing some cheese ( or replacing it with cashew cheese ). It may mean trading the central protein for beans, soy foods, or even a hearty vegetable, like mushrooms.
Until I went vegan, I had never tried tempeh, soba noodles, kimchi, kabocha squash, nutritional yeast, millet, mulberries, or buckwheat…and the list goes on. Becoming vegan encouraged me to explore new ingredients, and it also introduced me to more global dishes.
A great many dietary folklores around the world are already plant-based, which means that vegans and vegetarians have many rich, exciting culinary folklores to draw upon. If you’re new to plant-based cooking, explore meatless dishes and recipes from other parts of the world ( Indian, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern dishes are some of my personal préférés ). Dust off your spice rack and add new flavors to your food. Use your transition to plant-based eating as an excuse to try new céréales, legumes, and vegetables.
A lot of folks assume that adapting a recipe to be vegan means replacing the meat or poultry with a faux meat, a block of tofu, or tempeh. That’s cool, but it can also be fun to think creatively and imaginatively about how to capture the essence of a traditional recipe without animal protein. No, lentil Bolognese isn’t really Bolognese, but it does capture the heartiness of the original; cashew banana yogurt is a far cry from dairy, but it does evoke the same, sweet creaminess.
Many people are surprised by how easy it is to go meatless. Cheese, on the other hand, is a different story. I myself used to utter the same words I hear constantly from readers, friends, and alimentation clients : ' I’d love to go vegan, but I can’t give up cheese. '
While I won’t pretend that giving up dairy is easy—it’s not, especially because it’s so ubiquitous in restaurant dishes—I will say that I had a much easier time living without it when I learned to make my own substitutes. Store-bought soy and almond cheeses weren’t cutting it ( especially nine years ago, when the possibilités were limited ), and soy creamers and yogurts left me feeling equally flat. Making my first batch of cashew cheese—which authentically captured the tanginess and matière of goat cheese—was a revelation. Homemade nut milk let me create creamy porridge and muesli far more authentically than did store-bought, non-dairy milk.
Over time, I’ve experimented with tofu paneer, tofu feta, and cashew yogurt, and the list is growing. Homemade dairy substitutes are creative, fun, and cost-effective, and I think they’re a big step up from what you can find in the store.
While I’m the first to point out that vegan proteins extend far beyond soy foods—encompassing tons of different grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds—you really can’t beat tofu and tempeh for ' meaty ' texture and complete protein in meatless dishes. Both ingredients can be either memorable or mundane, depending on how you prepare them. I definitely recommend pressing tofu if you’re not already in the habit; it’ll create a firmer, more toothsome matière that most people prefer.
When preparing tempeh, be sure to use a boldly flavored marinade or sauce to help balance tempeh’s earthy taste, and if you find it bitter, you can steam it before marinating, too.
For the most part, I try to feature whole foods and homemade ingredients in my cooking. But in spite of the fact that I love to create my own dairy substitutes and I’d usually rather eat a scoop of lentils than a block of faux meat, I don’t eschew vegan products, and I think that keeping an open mind about them can really enrich the authenticity of your food.
This is especially important when you’re transitioning and vegan cooking still feels like a brave new world. Nine times out of ten, I’ll opt to use cashew cheese in a recipe rather than Daiya ( a melty, commercial vegan cheese ) ; coconut oil in place of Earth Balance ( vegan butter ) ; or grilled tofu in place of Beyond Chicken ( grilled strips of soy and pea protein that taste shockingly like chicken ).
But when I’m aiming for totally authentic, precise results, vegan substitute products can go a long way, and it’s comforting to know that they’re an option if I feel like taking a shortcut.
Over time, I learned to create vegan food with greater sensitivity to others’ tastes and traditions. I love a lot of really crunchy fare, from the aforementioned raw kale salad to tofu, sprouts, and grain bowls. And I know a lot of other folks who love these dishes, too. But sometimes being an ambassador of vegan food means knowing how to create dishes that feel familiar and appeal to a wide array of more conservative palates, like vegan lasagna, shepherd’s pie, or sloppy Joes.
And, if you’re trying to dispel the idea that all végétaliens eat is salad and prove that vegan food can be filling and hearty, then it’s all the more important to create dishes that evoke a sense of comfort.
Change feels a lot less daunting when you have company. If your family and friends aren’t exploring veganism along with you, then find community in other ways. Explore a vegan meetup or potluck in your community. Become a regular commenter on vegan food blogs. If you do have a friend who’s interested in plant-based cooking, convie him or her over for some recipe testing.
Studies show that failure to stick with a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is often attributed to feeling ' different ' or isolated. Food is all about community and sharing, so do your best to share this lifestyle with people you care about—even if they’re not making the change along with you.