3 Ingredient Fresh Cranberry Sauce Recipe + Video

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My Fresh Cranberry Sauce Recipe will make your holidays even more magical! Homemade cranberry sauce is so easy to make and tastes better than anything from a can. Using fresh cranberries, sugar, and orange juice, it’s ready in just 10 minutes!

titled: Homemade Cranberry Sauce 3 Ingredients


Fresh Cranberry Sauce Recipe

You only need 3 ingredients for a simple cranberry sauce that’s so delicious, you could eat it by itself.

Using fresh orange juice instead of water adds extra flavor and sweetness and just makes the whole thing a little brighter.

Learn how to make homemade cranberry sauce in no time, then serve it alongside all your favorite holiday side dishes for an easy Thanksgiving meal!

Recipe Video

To see us make this fresh cranberry sauce recipe from start to finish, watch the video in this post!

We have plenty more recipes with fresh cranberries for you to choose from — so stock up when you’re at the store!

How about a sweet cranberry punch that will delight your guests? Or Super Quick Cranberry Orange Bread to tide everyone over until the meal is ready?

My cranberry Christmas cake is the perfect sweet and tart dessert… but I won’t tell if you have it for breakfast!

fresh cranberries in a saucepan

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Fresh Cranberries – Empty the bag into a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cool water. This removes any sediment that may have made it into the bag.

    Pick through the strainer, removing any stems and discarding any berries that are mushy or discolored.
  • Orange Juice – I prefer freshly squeezed, but a high-quality bottled version would work too — though you may need to reduce the amount of sugar.

    You can also replace this with water or apple juice if you prefer!
  • Sugar – Brown sugar can be used in place of granulated for this fresh cranberry sauce recipe, or you can use a mixture of both. If needed, coconut sugar will also work.

    Or, use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, but reduce both the juice and sugar measurements to 1/2 cup.
sugar, cranberries, and orange juice in saucepan

How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  • Watch the berries.

It’s much more important to go by what’s happening with the fresh cranberries than to go by set cooking times.

Once most of them have burst open, it’s time to reduce the heat and let them simmer.

  • Make a smooth sauce.

You can use a stick blender in the pot and blend until smooth. Or, transfer everything to a blender but leave the lid offset for the steam to escape.

If it’s tightly sealed, the lid may pop off from the pressure and cause the mixture to splatter all over your kitchen.

  • Add spices.

If you’d like, add a pinch of your favorite warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or allspice.

Even cardamom would taste great with the flavor from the orange juice.

closeup: cranberries simmering in liquid

Kitchen Tools You’ll Need

  • Large Saucepan – Choose a heavy-bottomed pan so the heat is more evenly distributed. This will prevent your sauce from burning.
  • Mesh Strainer – Even if the bag of cranberries says they’ve been cleaned, it’s always a good idea to rinse them again just to be safe.

    It also makes it easier to pick out any damaged berries, as well as sticks and stems.
stirring cranberries as they simmer in saucepan

Ways to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

There are so many possibilities to choose from! Try one of the following or come up with your own creations.

  • Use as a spread for leftover turkey sandwiches
  • Mix into yogurt or oatmeal
  • Top fresh pancakes, waffles, or French Toast
  • Blend and brush over grilled meats
  • Spoon over ice cream or cheesecake
  • Use as filling for oatmeal bars
  • Blend into smoothies
  • Mix with club soda or alcohol for a tasty drink
stirring homemade cranberry sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce FAQ

Can you make this recipe with frozen cranberries?

Frozen work just as well for sauce (and most recipes with fresh cranberries), plus they don’t even need to be defrosted first!

Just keep an eye on them since it might take a little longer for the sauce to cook.

You’ll still need to rinse them and remove any stems and damaged berries, otherwise, they can go straight into the pan.

How to make homemade cranberry sauce thicker?

The mixture will naturally thicken as it cools, first in the pan and then again in the refrigerator.

If it still seems too loose, put it back on the heat and stir in a slurry — a mixture of 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water.

Simmer and stir for a few minutes, and it should thicken right up!

Can I make this fresh cranberry sauce recipe ahead of time?

Absolutely! In fact, the longer the flavors have to meld together, the better it tastes.

Keep it tightly covered or in an airtight container, and it will last in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

cooked fresh cranberries in liquid

Storing and Freezing Leftovers

Homemade cranberry sauce freezes beautifully. Transfer to an airtight container or freezer-safe plastic bag and let it chill in the refrigerator first.

Then, place in the freezer and use it within 2 months for best flavor — though it will remain safe to eat for at least a year.

Thaw in the refrigerator for a day or two and give it a good stir before serving.

closeup: spoonful of fresh cranberry sauce

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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small bowl of cranberry sauce and fresh berries on wooden board

3 Ingredient Fresh Cranberry Sauce Recipe + Video

Donna Elick
This Fresh Cranberry Sauce Recipe is so easy to make and better than anything from a can. Homemade cranberry sauce is ready in 10 minutes!
5 stars from 3 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 7 minutes
Total Time 7 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Servings 12 Ounces


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice


  • Place cranberries in a strainer and rinse. Then pick through them for any bad cranberries. Remove any sticks or stems.
  • Combine ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. As the cranberry sauce comes to a boil, the berries will begin to burst, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to simmer. Stir occasionally as the cranberry sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.
  • Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.


Donna’s Notes

If you prefer your cranberry sauce smooth, you can use a stick blender in the pot and blend until smooth. You can also transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 87cal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Sugar: 20g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image (and shown): homemade cranberry sauce

Originally published November 2016, updated and republished October 2023

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  1. This is great! So easy and good. It's my go-to recipe for cranberry sauce. Just basic, what people expect when they eat cranberry sauce, no exotic surprises for those who want traditional cranberry sauce. I will make this every time I make poultry. Not just for Thanksgiving! Life is short; make every poultry dish a holiday!

  2. i switched 1/2 cup of red wine (or sherry/port wine) for 1/2 cup OJ, added a diced serrano (or 2 jalapenos), finely diced 1/2 cup od walnuts and a cinnamon stick! unbelievably great!!!

  3. In honor of my dad this year, I will be making this, as he did in previous years, we will add walnuts and Grand Mariner and a splash of Amaretto.

  4. I was wondering if this recipe would work using Splenda instead of sugar? Struggling diabetic here who really loves cranberry sauce!

    1. I wouldn’t use as much Splenda because it’s so sweet, so start with less and add more if you need it… I think it should turn out pretty good! Let us know…😋

    2. Hi! I make this with Splenda Brown Sugar instead of regular sugar. It’s delicious, and nobody knew the difference until I told them! We have a few diabetics in our family, and this was a big hit!!

  5. 5 stars
    I’m not one for cranberry sauce, but my husband made this last Christmas, and it was so good! It will be on our holiday table from now on!

  6. I do basically the same, except I put orange peel (cut with a vegetable peeler), a little salt, and cinnamon sticks in while it’s cooking and remove in the cooling process. I made this for a community thanksgiving tonight and got sooo many positives asking for the recipe.

  7. 5 stars
    I made this recipe, I am on a Weigh Loss Journey, so I did Substitute the Sugar with Splenda and I also Used Diet Very Low Calorie Apple Juice/Cider instead of the Orange Juice. It came out SO Good and No one Noticed it was any different than past years with the Regular Sugar! Thank You Again and Happy Holidays!!

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