The World's Easiest Cranberry Sauce Recipe

The Food Lab

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The World's Easiest Cranberry Sauce Recipe

[Photographs and video: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Looking for more cranberry sauce ideas? Here are a few variations:

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Why It Works

  • Cranberries are high in pectin, which helps them set naturally into a jelly without the need for any other thickeners.
  • Orange zest and cinnamon are natural flavor pairings for cranberries, enhancing and complementing their tartness.
  • Yield:Serves 8 to 12
  • Active time: 15 minutes
  • Total time:45 minutes


  • 1 (12-ounce; 340g) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar (5 ounces; 140g)
  • 1/2 cup water (4 ounces; 115g)
  • 2 strips zest and 2 tablespoons (30ml) juice from 1 orange (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • Pinch kosher salt


  1. 1.

    Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until berries start to pop. Press berries against side of pan with a wooden spoon and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until berries are completely broken down and achieve a jam-like consistency, about 10 minutes total. Remove from heat and allow to cool about 30 minutes. Stir in water in 1-tablespoon increments to adjust to desired consistency. Cranberry sauce can be served immediately or stored in the refrigerator for several months.