Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe – NatashasKitchen.com

This recipe for classic Cranberry Sauce is so easy and made with just 3 ingredients. No matter how many batches of cranberry sauce I’ve made, I always come back to this one. It’s simple, it’s classic, and it’s really the best.

Once you try homemade cranberry sauce, there’s just no going back to storebought. It’s better in taste, texture, and presentation. Pair this iconic holiday side dish with your Juicy Roast Turkey for a burst of sweet-tart flavor in every bite.

A bowl of homemade cranberry sauce with a spoon.

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We love cranberries for the holidays, from Sugared Cranberries (and you can use leftovers to make this cranberry sauce!) to moist and fluffy Cranberry Bread. If you are looking for a go-to cranberry sauce, this is it! Plus, you can change it up in so many different ways and make it your own (see variations below).

Classic Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Homemade Cranberry Sauce is iconic for the holidays and a staple of our Thanksgiving menu every year. Nothing pairs better with Thanksgiving Turkey. The combination of sweet and tangy with savory meats is irresistibly good. 

Read on for our tips on how to sweeten this recipe the natural way, without processed sugar. We’ve also included some fun variations to really make this recipe your own because there are a hundred ways to make cranberry sauce.


You don’t need much to make a good cranberry sauce (scroll down to get the full amounts available in the recipe card):

  • Sweetener – Use your choice of granulated sugar or a natural sweetener, like honey or maple syrup. My favorite is maple syrup because it adds a nice layer of maple flavor.
  • Cranberries – We love making this recipe with whole fresh cranberries. Many grocery stores will carry bags of fresh cranberries when they’re in season.
The ingredients for homemade cranberry sauce.

Pro Tip: You don’t need cornstarch to set this perfect cranberry sauce. Cranberries contain pectin, a natural thickener that is released when the berries are heated. If you simmer the sauce long enough, it will thicken all on its own.

Can I Use Frozen Cranberries?

Yes, this recipe will work with frozen cranberries, too. Frozen cranberries will take a little longer to come to a boil and simmer, but the texture always turns out just as delicious.

It’s easy to freeze fresh cranberries in the bags they came in (or transfer them to a freezer bag). They’ll keep frozen for up to a year, and we almost always have a stash in our freezer.

Bags of frozen cranberries sealed inside a large zip-top bag.

How to Make Cranberry Sauce from Scratch

We just love how quickly this recipe comes together on the stovetop. It’s just 3 steps:

  1. Dissolve the Sugar – In a saucepan, combine your sweetener of choice with water on the stovetop, and bring it to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. 
  2. Add Cranberries and Cook – Add the cranberries to the pot and let them come to a low boil, then cook, uncovered, until the sauce thickens. Remember to stir occasionally.
  3. Cool and Serve – Stir in additional sweetener to taste, then leave the cranberry sauce to cool. See below for easy serving suggestions.
Photo collage showing how to make cranberry sauce.

Pro Tip: If your cranberry sauce still tastes a bit bitter or too tart after it’s cooked, you can add more sweetener to taste.

Easy Variations

My favorite variation is this classic and simple version, but there are so many ways you can change up and enjoy this sauce. Below are more easy variations and add-in ideas (see the recipe card for more detailed instructions):

  • Cranberry Orange Sauce
  • Lemon zest and freshly-squeezed lemon juice 
  • Orange zest and orange juice
  • Dried cherries and pecans

Common Questions

What is the difference between Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Relish?

Cranberry relish is generally more bitter, made from raw cranberries that are minced up in a food processor.

Can I add less sugar?

Yes! Less sugar or added sweetness will result in a more tart and tangy sauce. Start with ½ cup of sweetener and add more to taste.

Can I double the recipe?

Homemade cranberry sauce freezes beautifully (see below), so go ahead and make a double batch if you’d like to have extras.

Cranberries simmering in a pot with sugar and water.

Ways to Serve Cranberry Sauce

We’ll often serve this homemade sauce cold or at room temperature. Here are just some of the many ways to enjoy it:


This classic condiment keeps well for days after it’s made. Here’s how to store your leftovers:

  • To Refrigerate: Store the cooled cranberries airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • Freezing: You can freeze homemade cranberry sauce for up to 2 months. Seal it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag to store, and defrost it in the fridge before serving.
A spoonful of cranberry sauce with a bowl of sauce in the background.

We can’t wait for you to try this simple, yet unbelievably tangy and tasty 3-ingredient cranberry sauce. 

More Cranberry Recipes

Can’t get enough cranberries for the holidays? Check out even more easy cranberry recipes:

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

A bowl of homemade cranberry sauce with a spoon.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce is an iconic Thanksgiving side dish made with just 3 ingredients. You can sweeten it with sugar or use a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup (our favorite!). The sweet and tangy flavors pair perfectly with savory turkey.

Author: Natasha Kravchuk

Skill Level:


Cost to Make:



cranberry sauce, homemade cranberry sauce, how to make cranberry sauce




Condiments, Side Dish

Calories: 116

Servings: 8 servings

  • 1
    granulated sugar, or 3/4 cup honey or maple syrup, plus more to taste
  • 3/4
  • 12
    fresh or frozen cranberries

Optional add-ins at the start of cooking:

  • 2
    wide strips of lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2
    wide strips of orange zest, plus 1/4 cup juice
  • 1/2
    dried cherries
  • 1/2
    cinnamon stick
  1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar (or maple syrup or honey) and water. Set over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add cranberries and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 12-15 minutes.

  2. Add more maple syrup, honey, or sugar to taste if needed, then remove from heat and cool sauce to room temperature before serving.

  • To Store: Once cranberry sauce has cooled to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Nutrition Facts

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 116
Calories from Fat 1

% Daily Value*

Fat 0.1g0%

Saturated Fat 0.004g0%

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.02g

Monounsaturated Fat 0.01g

Sodium 2mg0%

Potassium 35mg1%

Carbohydrates 30g10%

Fiber 2g8%

Sugar 27g30%

Protein 0.2g0%

Vitamin A 26IU1%

Vitamin C 6mg7%

Calcium 4mg0%

Iron 0.1mg1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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