Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice


Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

With its tangy-sweet flavor and bright red color, Cranberry Sauce with orange juice is a must-have for holiday meals. With only four ingredients, this recipe is quick, easy, and can be made ahead.

cranberry sauce in a white bowl

As far as Thanksgiving side dishes go, cranberry sauce is a staple, but doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It’s hard to compete with juicy Roasted Turkey, and classic side dishes like creamy mashed potatoes, and light and buttery dinner rolls. But I would argue that cranberry sauce is an essential addition. The sweet-tart flavor just brightens the entire plate of savory dishes. It helps the show-stoppers to shine and it is, by far, the easiest Thanksgiving recipe to make from scratch. It can also be made ahead up to 14 days before the holiday.

Here’s how!

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Cranberries (fresh or frozen), orange juice, water, and sugar.
  2. Bring to a boil. Heat everything over medium-high until the sauce is bubbling.
  3. Simmer on low. Reduce the heat so that the sauce continues to bubble gently (low or low-medium, depending on your stove).
  4. Cook until thick. Let the sauce simmer, stirring often, until it thickens to your liking, 12 to 20 minutes.
  5. Let cool. Let the sauce cool completely before storing in the refrigerator for up to 14 days.

adding sugar to cranberries in a blue dutch oven

Cranberry Relish vs Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry relish is a dish using fresh cranberries that are finely chopped, combined with sugar, and served raw. Cranberry sauce is simmered until it reaches a thick, jammy consistency. The basic ingredients are the same – cranberries, sugar, and citrus.

This recipe for cranberry relish would be a great one to try!

How long to refrigerate or freeze

Cranberry sauce has a high level of acidity and sugar, so it can easily be stored in the refrigerator for up to 14 days. It can be frozen in well-sealed containers for 4 months. Defrost it in the refrigerator before use. 

How to thicken cranberry sauce

Just like most jam and jelly recipes, you can easily thicken cranberry sauce by simmering it for longer. The liquids will cook off and the sauce will thicken.

How to thin cranberry sauce

If you finish your sauce and notice that it is more thick than you would like, simply simmer it on the stovetop with additional water. Continue simmering until it reaches your desired consistency

stirring cranberry sauce in a saucepan

What to do with leftovers

In addition to serving it with any of your Thanksgiving or Christmas leftovers, try adding cranberry sauce to turkey sandwiches. And if you need some variety, try serving cranberry sauce with pork chops, roast chicken, or as a glaze for salmon. 

You can also use leftover cranberry sauce like a jam and spread it on rolls or biscuits with butter.


  • Cranberries – Fresh or frozen will work. If using fresh cranberries, look for berries that are a vibrant red and firm to the touch. Discard any berries that are brown or blemished.
  • Orange Juice – Orange juice’s sweet citrus flavor is a great complement to tart cranberries.
  • Ginger – Ginger’s warm spice adds a unique hint of flavor. Use freshly grated ginger for the best flavor. Feel free to skip this you prefer a more classic flavor.
  • Sugar – Sweetens naturally tart cranberries.
  • Water – Boiling the cranberries in a mixture of orange juice and water helps to soften them. 


  • Make it sweet and zesty – Adding vanilla and orange zest is a popular variation on this traditional Thanksgiving side dish. 
  • Add fall spices – Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice complement cranberry-orange flavors. 
How do I make it thicker?

The longer you simmer the sauce, the thicker it will become. Simmer the sauce for 12 minutes for a more loose sauce or 20 minutes for a thicker, chunkier sauce.

How far in advance can you make cranberry sauce?

If stored in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator, cranberry sauce will last and taste fresh for up to 2 weeks.

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

Yes. Freeze it in a well-sealed container for up to 6 months.

Can I use frozen cranberries?

Absolutely. You can use fresh or frozen cranberries to make cranberry sauce. You do not need to defrost them first.

Should I serve it hot or cold?

Cranberry sauce is great served at any temperature. When serving it with a warm holiday meal, it’s a good idea to let it come to room temperature before serving. Leftovers are great used cold just like jelly or jam.

More Classic Thanksgiving Sides


Pin this now to save it for later

Pin It Now
homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl
5 from 3 votes

Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice

With its tangy-sweet flavor and bright red color, cranberry sauce is a must-have side dish for any holiday meal. With only four ingredients, this recipe is quick, easy, and can be made ahead.
To adjust the servings in this recipe, click on the number next to servings.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 10


  • Saucepan


  • 1 cup Orange Juice (use the kind with no pulp for the best texture)
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 4 cups Cranberries (fresh or frozen; see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated Fresh Ginger (optional; see note)


  • Combine orange juice, sugar, water, and cranberries in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
  • When sauce begins to boil, reduce heat to a low-medium. Simmer until the cranberries have all burst, and the sauce has reached your desired thickness, 12 to 20 minutes. (Note: Cooking the sauce for longer will result in a thicker, more chunky sauce.)
  • Move the sauce off of the heat and stir in fresh ginger, if using.
  • Allow cranberry sauce to cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.


Cranberries – You can use fresh or frozen cranberries. If using fresh cranberries, look for berries that are a vibrant red and firm to the touch. Discard any berries that are brown or blemished. If using frozen, there is no need to defrost them before using them. Step 1 to bring the cranberries to a boil will take slightly longer because the cranberries will need to defrost. 
Ginger – Fresh ginger adds a unique, warm spice flavor to the cranberry sauce. Just peel the ginger and use a microplane or other fine grater to grate the ginger directly into the sauce. For a more classic flavor, feel free to skip this. 


Calories: 88kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 74IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $4.00
Calories: 88
Keyword: Christmas, easy side dish, Thanksgiving
Like this? Leave a comment below!Jump to Comments
Want to save this recipe?
Get it emailed to you directly! Enter your email below.

About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 5 stars
    I added fresh strawberries and a taste of vanilla. The original recipe is great but I always like to add my taste.