This easy to make Orange Cranberry Sauce recipe is ready in under 30 minutes from start to finish. The cranberries and oranges give this sauce the perfect balance sweetness and tartness that compliments savory foods perfectly.
Orange Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Are you team canned cranberry sauce or homemade cranberry sauce? I used to be all about the canned cranberry sauce and realized it’s because I love how sweet it is.
Once you give this recipe a try, it will be a no brainer – you will never go back to the canned stuff! The fresh orange juice and orange zest add a flavor that can’t be bought that the store. Adding in warm spices, like allspice makes this cranberry jelly to die for! You could also add in a dash of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick to spruce it up even more.
While this cranberry fruit sauce may be perfect for holiday dinners, you can enjoy it any time of the year! No need to wait around for Thanksgiving dinner; serve it with: Air Fryer Turkey Legs or Air Fryer Biscuit Donuts.
Cranberries: I recommend purchasing fresh whole cranberries from your local farmer’s market or grocery store.
However, if fresh cranberries are out of season or you are having trouble finding them – feel free to use frozen cranberries as a substitute. If you’re planning on using frozen cranberries, be sure to thaw them before using them.
While I love dried cranberries, I don’t recommend using them for this recipe, but they are delicious in Butternut Squash Cranberry Quinoa Salad and Cranberry Bacon Broccoli Salad.
Note: while I recommend thawing your frozen cranberries, I have made this sauce without thawing them because I was in a pinch and it turned out just fine!
Oranges: perfect addition to cranberry sauce. The orange flavor added with the tart cranberries sends this recipe over the top!
I like to use freshly squeezed navel oranges for this recipe, but if you only have bottled orange juice (pulp or no pulp), you can use that too. Keep in mind that the recipe does call for fresh orange zest so be sure to keep the orange rind!
Granulated + brown sugar: both white sugar and brown sugars act as our sweeteners for this recipe. They help cut the bitterness of the cranberries. This is what makes me a homemade cranberry sauce fan!
If you don’t have any sugar on hand, you can use a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey as a substitution.
Salt, allspice + vanilla extract: allspice and vanilla extract add a warm flavor to the recipe. A pinch of salt helps enhance the flavor.
Brandy (optional): I enjoy using brandy for this recipe to give it a little bit of a spin on ordinary cranberry sauce! It adds a unique and delicious flavor that you can’t get out of a can.
How To Make Orange Cranberry Sauce
1. Boil orange juice and sugar. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring the orange juice, water and both sugars to a boil. Be sure to stir occasionally to help dissolve the sugar.
2. Add spices and cranberries. Mix in the orange zest, allspice, and salt then add cranberries, stir, and return to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and boil gently for 10 to 15 minutes, until most of cranberries have burst open. If you notice there were a few that didn’t open, you can smash them with a spoon or a meat masher.
3. Add vanilla extract and serve. Mix in the vanilla extract and cook for two minutes. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a serving bowl and allow it to come to room temperature before serving or chilling in the refrigerator.
- Use a heavy bottom saucepan to prevent scorching.
- Use a meat masher to mash the cranberries, if necessary.
How do you get the bitterness out of fresh cranberry sauce?
It may seem challenging to get the bitterness out of your cranberry sauce, but it’s actually super easy! Cranberries taste bitter due to their high tannin content. Tannins are also found in dark chocolate and coffee. That’s why they are also bitter sometimes.
There are a few ways to kick the bitterness out of your orange cranberry sauce.
You can add a teaspoon of orange juice, lemon juice, or apple juice. Any of the sweeter fruit juices will help turn down the bitterness. If you don’t have juice on hand, feel free to add a dash of maple syrup to cut back on the bitterness.
If you accidentally add too much and your cranberry sauce is way too sweet, add a dash of salt, which will help level out the flavors again.
I do not recommend adding granulated sugar to your cranberry sauce after it has cooled to add more sweetness. The sugar will not dissolve correctly, and your sauce will become a mess.
If you want to add more sugar or brown sugar, put the cranberry sauce back into the saucepan, warm it up, and then add the sugar to dissolve fully.
How do you know when cranberry sauce is done?
Want to know the secret to the perfect consistency? Watch your cranberries!
You will know your cranberry sauce is done when your cranberries start to split open. When cranberries pop or split, they release pectin, a natural thickener.
Listen for the POP!
Why is my cranberry sauce watery?
If you notice that your easy cranberry sauce is too watery, cook it a tad bit longer. The pectin that is released when your cranberries are on the stove is a natural thickener, so the longer you cook it, the thicker it will become.
Keep in mind that your orange cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. If you notice that it’s starting to become too thick, add a splash of water or orange juice to thin it out a little.
Be sure not to add too much because you don’t want your sauce to become watery again. If necessary, mix 1 tsp of cornstarch and 1 tsp of water, making a slurry, and then add it to the sauce.
Another solution is to use a slotted spoon when transferring the cranberry sauce to your serving dish, leaving any watery parts behind.
Should cranberry sauce be cold when served?
That’s 100% up to you! Fresh cranberry orange sauce is at its best when it’s served at room temperature. However, it’s delicious when served warm or cold.
To warm up leftover orange cranberry sauce, you can either put it in the microwave – checking every 15 seconds or so. You could also throw the cranberry sauce into a medium saucepan and warm it up on medium-low heat.
How to store cranberry sauce
Homemade cranberry sauce can be stored in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for 10-12 days. If you want to store it longer, freeze it in the same airtight container or freezer-safe bags for up to 5 months.
What to serve with cranberry sauce
While cranberry sauce is traditionally served with roasted turkey on thanksgiving, it’s also delicious with chicken and pork. I also love serving it with these Air Fryer Turkey Legs.
Leftover cranberry sauce is the perfect opportunity to make Cranberry Baked Brie or cranberry and brie hand pies!
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Orange Cranberry Sauce
- Meat masher to mash the cranberries
- ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice from about two oranges
- ½ cup water
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2-4 tbsps brandy optional
- 1 16 oz bag cranberries (can use frozen but do not use dried) if using frozen, thaw first
- zest of one orange about 2 teaspoons
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, bring the orange juice, water and both sugars to a boil, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar.
- Mix in the orange zest, allspice, and salt then add cranberries, stir, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and boil gently for 10 to 15 minutes, until most of cranberries have burst open. (I like to use my meat masher for this.)
- Mix in the vanilla extract and cook for two minutes. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a serving bowl and allow it to come to room temperature before serving or chilling in the refrigerator.
Loving the addition of citrus to this classic sauce for the holidays! Definitely going to be making this recipe again for Thanksgiving dinner this year. 🙂
This orange cranberry sauce is perfect for holidays. It was delicious, we ate it with pork chops.
I prefer homemade so much more than the canned version! Cannot wait to make this again for Thanksgiving this year!
Thats a great tip to use juices to tone down the bitterness. Mines often come out tart and I dont want to add too much sugar.
This easy to make orange cranberry sauce is a perfect side dish for the Holidays. I tested it out tonight with a few other Thanksgiving recipes.