The Best Cranberry Sauce

Quick Summary

Fresh cranberry sauce sweetened with pure maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, and a hint of cinnamon. This easy homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe is a holiday favorite for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

fresh cranberry sauce in bowl with spoon.

I always stock up on fresh cranberries when I see them at the store. I love making my Apple Cranberry Pie, Cranberry Orange Bread, and the BEST Cranberry Sauce.

Cranberry Sauce is a holiday tradition and I love this cranberry sauce recipe because it is sweetened with pure maple syrup. There are no refined sugars here, just fresh cranberries, pure maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, and a little cinnamon. The flavors are FANTASTIC!

It is the perfect side dish for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It only takes 25 minutes to make and you can make it in advance. And I promise it is MUCH better than canned cranberry sauce. Fresh is the ONLY way to go!

cranberry sauce in white bowl with fresh cranberries.

Simple Ingredients

  • Fresh or frozen cranberries– Fresh cranberries will start appearing in stores at the end of October or early November. I like to buy several bags so I can put a few in the freezer. They will keep for up to one year, so stock up!
  • Pure maple syrup– to sweeten the sauce. You want to balance out the tart in the cranberries.
  • Orange- you will need the juice and zest from a fresh orange.
  • Water– to make the sauce
  • Cinnamon– a love adding a little cinnamon!
Fresh cranberry sauce in pan.

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

  • Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse with cold water. Discard any shriveled or damaged cranberries.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, and water. You are going to bring to a boil and cook until the cranberries have broken down and thickened into a compote, about 20 minutes. The cranberries will pop, don’t be scared:) The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Remove the cranberry sauce from the heat and stir in the cinnamon. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator.

How to Serve

You can serve cranberry sauce at room temperature or chilled. It is the perfect condiment for holiday turkey. I like to spread it on my dinner roll or toast, SO good! You can also add it to leftover turkey sandwiches for a spread of sweetness.

Variations

  • Sweeten with honey instead of pure maple syrup. Of course, you can sweeten with regular granulated sugar too. Sweeten to taste!
  • Add a pinch of nutmeg or allspice.
  • If you don’t care for orange, you can leave out the orange juice and zest.
  • Add ½ cup diced fresh fruit like pineapple, pears, or apples.
  • You can also add dried fruit like currants, dried cranberries, or raisins.
  • Stir in pecans or walnuts at the end if you want a nutty crunch.

How to Store & Freeze

You can make cranberry sauce in advance, which is SO nice. Get it out of the way so you have one less thing to worry about on the big day!

Store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. You can also freeze cranberry sauce in a freezer container or freezer bag for up to 4 months.

More Holiday Side Dishes

Easy Cranberry Sauce

homemade cranberry sauce in bowl with spoon.

Maple Cranberry Sauce

Fresh cranberry sauce sweetened with pure maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, and a hint of cinnamon. This easy cranberry sauce is the perfect side dish to all of your holiday meals.
4.88 from 16 votes

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • Juice of 1 medium orange
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions
 

  • Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse with cold water. Discard any shriveled or damaged cranberries.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have broken down and thickened into a compote, about 20 minutes. The cranberries will pop, don’t be scared:) The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Remove the cranberry sauce from the heat and stir in the cinnamon. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator.

Notes

This cranberry sauce can be made in advance. It will keep in a container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. You can also freeze the sauce for up to 4 months. 

Nutrition

Serving: 8g, Calories: 54kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Sodium: 2mg, Potassium: 45mg, Sugar: 12g, Calcium: 23mg
Keywords cranberry

Have you tried this recipe?

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Maria

I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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  1. We have typically made the traditional cranberry sauce that’s loaded with sugar, but I have been wanting to try one without all the refined sugar that is naturally sweetened. This sounds perfect!!! Definitely trying this for our Thanksgiving! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. just in time, love the pure maple and orange zest to the orange, definitely beats any canned version of cranberry sauce!, thank you for sharing this!

  3. Cranberry is a staple on our table at Thanksgiving, in fact my sister and I always try to compete to see who’s sauce will be more popular. 

    I like most people have never thought to add maple to a cranberry sauce. I’m excited to try this recipe this year! Thanks for sharing! Cheers! 

  4. Love it! I adore cranberry sauce and all the creative opportunities that come with it. My next batch will most definitely include maple syrup. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for this recipe, Marie! I made it for Thanksgiving, and I think the family liked it. 🙂 We usually have the Ocean Spray canned stuff (which I admit, I love), so it was a good alternative!

  6. 5 stars
    Made this last year for Thanksgiving and I’m coming back to make it again this year because I loved it so much better than our usual canned! So good!

  7. 5 stars
    I made this with a couple of twists. Substitute the water with Cranberry-Pomegranite juice. !0 minutes into the cook, add an ounce of Grand Mariner. After the cook, add 1/2 cup of chopped black walnuts. You can also add a bit of ground cloves, or even a hint of hot pepper like cayenne for some extra kick!

  8. 5 stars
    This was a hit at our Thanksgiving table. My 10 year old made it herself and got rave reviews. The cinnamon adds something different to the sauce that we all enjoyed. And it tasted great over french toast the day after.

  9. My son made these as part of a home school project. They were delicious! I’m not confident they will last until Thanksgiving. Whoops!

  10. You’re right! The best!!! I added orange chunks and walnuts! Just like an old relative used to make! Definitely made him come alive and felt like a real Thanksgiving. Thank you!

  11. 4 stars
    I made this tonight as one less item to make for thanksgiving day! I loved the cinnamon addition! The smell was wonderful! But I am sorry,
    I found this recipe a little too tart! So I added more maple syrup…about 1/4 more! Now it tastes fantastic! I probably have more sweet tooth than most. Thanks I loved adding the Maple syrup instead of sugar! Good call!
    Thanks

  12. 5 stars
    Wow! Who would’ve thought a simple change like maple syrup could transform cranberry sauce! It did and it does! Been making cranberry sauce for decades. This will be my keeper recipe from now on! Thank you!

  13. 5 stars
    Growing up I hated cranberry sauce. We always got the jellied kind in the can. But, my farmer’s box had fresh cranberries and I was looking to try something new so I just made this. It is FABULOUS! I had no idea cranberry sauce could be so good. I love the addition of the orange zest and juice. Thanks so much for such a lovely recipe!

  14. 5 stars
    So easy and delicious! My first time making cranberry sauce and I can’t believe how easy it is. Do you know if you can freeze it? I’d like to save some for Christmas since it only the three of us for the holidays with this pandemic going on. Thank you!!!

  15. 5 stars
    This is our family’s favorite; our “go to” cranberry sauce — so easy and so delicious. Thank you for this wonderful holiday recipe, Maria!

  16. 5 stars
    This sauce is really good! I have a big sweet tooth, so I added a little extra sugar.
    Also, had some cream cheese and put the sauce on top of it….yummy!
    Looking forward to trying more recipes.

  17. I have made this several times! I so love it that it has erased the visions of sugarplums in my head and they are now tastes of cranberries and maple!

  18. Can this recipe be canned? I’ve made this for several years and all my family loves it. I was thinking if canning it and giving as gifts this year.

  19. You should check your nutrition info calculator. It isn’t possible to have more grams of carbs than the serving size.

  20. 5 stars
    This is the best cranberry sauce ever and it’s been my go-to recipe for several years, now!! I add a diced unpeeled Granny Smith apple to the mix and when all cooked together, stir in grated fresh nutmeg and a handful of chopped toasted pecans at the end. I love that it’s sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar. It’s a really wonderful recipe!!

  21. This is the first time I have made this recipe, was very good the only thing different I did was added 2 peeled and diced apples, pecans and marshmallows. It cooked long enough 20 pluses minutes then cooled down to put the marshmallows and pecans in. Very good will make again. My orange was a very big one, zested over pan.