Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

Though some people harbor a soft spot for the canned stuff, we think the best cranberry sauce is a different beast altogether—fruity and tart, sweet but not too sweet, and thick but not artificially gloopy.

Not only does ditching the can allow you to make a truly great basic cranberry sauce, but also it gives you room to experiment with other flavors that complement the tart berries. Once you have the method down pat, you can add all kinds of fruits, spices, and other ingredients to transform an ordinary cranberry sauce into something truly memorable.

Though some people harbor a soft spot for the canned stuff, we think the best cranberry sauce is a different beast altogether—fruity and tart, sweet but not too sweet, and thick but not artificially gloopy.

Not only does ditching the can allow you to make a truly great basic cranberry sauce, but also it gives you room to experiment with other flavors that complement the tart berries. Once you have the method down pat, you can add all kinds of fruits, spices, and other ingredients to transform an ordinary cranberry sauce into something truly memorable.

The World's Easiest Cranberry Sauce

4 Ingredients, 1 Simple Step
A great batch of homemade cranberry sauce requires just four ingredients: cranberries, sugar, water, and a pinch of salt. Because cranberries are so high in pectin, you won't need any other thickeners to get the sauce to set. Once you're comfortable with this basic recipe, try customizing it with other flavoring agents—orange zest and a cinnamon stick are a nice touch.
Get the recipe for The World's Easiest Cranberry Sauce

Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce
Adding apple and orange to a basic cranberry sauce helps to emphasize the best qualities of the dish. Here, chopped Granny Smiths amplify both the berries' tartness and their sweetness, while orange juice and zest add a strong bright edge.
Get the recipe for Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce

Spiced Red Wine Cranberry Sauce
This complex cranberry sauce is inspired by a classic winter beverage, mulled wine. We swap in red wine for the water typically used to cook the berries and add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Molasses and maple syrup give the sauce a more layered sweetness than one made with white sugar.
Get the recipe for Spiced Red Wine Cranberry Sauce

Pear and Ginger Cranberry Sauce
Mild, sweet pear and spicy ginger make an excellent (and fall-appropriate) combination that we've put to work in other dishes, including a fantastic pear, riesling, and ginger sorbet. This cranberry sauce incorporates both fresh and crystallized ginger to give the sauce a pleasant kick, while chopped pear provides sweetness for balance. If you aren't sure how much spice your crowd is willing to handle in their cranberry sauce, feel free to cut back on the crystallized ginger here.
Get the recipe for Pear and Ginger Cranberry Sauce

More Cranberry Sauce Recipes

Cranberry Sauce FAQs

How can I thicken or thin my cranberry sauce?
There's no need to freak out if your cranberry sauce comes out too gelatinous or a little runny and thin. To thin out your sauce, incorporate water in small increments while stirring until you've reached the desired consistency. To thicken cranberry sauce, simply simmer it over low heat, stirring frequently, until it has reduced sufficiently.
How long does cranberry sauce last in the fridge?
Thanks to its high level of acidity and naturally occurring antimicrobial compounds, cranberry sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks, if not months.
Why should I make cranberry sauce from scratch?
Canned cranberry sauce may have a degree of nostalgic charm, but making it yourself gives you total control over sweetness, tartness, flavorings, and consistency. For some inspiration, take a look at our many variations.
Does it matter whether I use fresh or frozen cranberries?
Cranberries freeze quite well and maintain their bright-red color once frozen. Since you'll be bolstering your cranberry sauce with plenty of sugar (and maybe some spices), it doesn't matter whether you use fresh or frozen berries.