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The Best Orange Cranberry Sauce

The best Orange Cranberry Sauce recipe you’ll ever make! With only four simple ingredients, this simple make-ahead dish will help you rock the holidays.

a jar of orange cranberry sauce with a spoon and cranberries on a white board

Ok friends, let’s be clear about one thing. This is not the canned cranberry sauce that your great aunt slops into a bowl for Thanksgiving. You know the kind that comes out of a can, makes a squelching sound when it slithers out and could retain the shape of the can even during a nuclear holocaust.

This is not that sauce. This cranberry sauce has depth and flavor. It has legs. It is cranberry…like cranberry was meant to be. And if you need to free up your stove while making it, check out our Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce.

a close up shot of orange cranberry sauce in a bowl with a spoon

How Long Does It Take Cranberry Sauce to Set?

It will reach the final consistency once it has fully cooled.


You can keep your fresh cranberry sauce with orange juice in the fridge for up to two weeks. In fact, homemade cranberry sauce actually tastes better if made a few days prior to serving. That’s why we call it make-ahead cranberry sauce! ????

If you want to make it shelf-stable, check out this tutorial on Canning Cranberry Sauce.


You sure can! This means if you’re reading this weeks or even months before a major holiday, make a batch today and freeze it for later. You’ll also love my free Thanksgiving Checklist printable for all your Type-A holiday planning needs!

I freeze mine in wide-mouth canning jars. I use pint jars for smaller servings and quart jars for large gatherings. Just allow the sauce to fully cool before adding it to the canning jars. And leave 1-inch of space between the top of the food and the top of the jar.

For more information on which kinds of jars to use, check out these posts on Canning Supplies and Zero Waste Food Storage.


  • Want a boozy cranberry sauce? Reduce the orange juice by 1 tbsp and cook as directed in the recipe card. Add 1 tbsp of Grand Marnier or bourbon to the sauce after it has finished cooking. Cook the sauce on saute for 2 minutes to cook off some of the alcohol.
  • Add 1-2 cinnamon sticks to the pot prior to cooking if you prefer spiced cranberry sauce.
  • Sub in maple syrup, honey, or even coconut sugar in place of the regular sugar.
  • Stir in a little homemade Strawberry Puree to take your sauce to the next level.


If you have leftover cranberries after making this, learn all about Freezing Cranberries to save the extras for another time.


a jar of orange cranberry sauce with a spoon and cranberries on a white board
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Orange Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time1 min
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time16 mins
Homemade cranberry sauce to help you rock the holidays this year. Four simple ingredients create a deliciously easy make-ahead cranberry sauce.


  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 12 oz bag cranberries


  • In a medium saucepan, combine orange juice and sugar. Bring to a boil.
  • Add the cranberries, and reduce the heat to medium. Allow it to cook until you start to hear the cranberries popping.
  • With a wooden spoon or potato masher (what I use), smash down the cranberries until it reaches your desired texture. I prefer mostly mushed with a few whole berries sprinkled in there.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the orange zest. Allow sauce to cool for 20 minutes at room temperature (so it doesn't heat up your fridge), and transfer to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator. It will thicken a bit as it cools.


This recipe is super easy to scale. The ingredients listed make one batch but simply double or triple to create enough for a big crowd.
Cranberry sauce is one of the best things to make ahead of a holiday event. It tastes even better the next day and will keep in the fridge for days.
If you're like me and want cranberry sauce year-round, buy bags when they go on sale after the holidays to freeze. 
Nutrition Facts
Orange Cranberry Sauce
Amount Per Serving (0.25 cup)
Calories 31
% Daily Value*
Fat 0g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0mg0%
Potassium 31mg1%
Carbohydrates 7g2%
Fiber 0g0%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 0g0%
Vitamin A 30IU1%
Vitamin C 8.3mg10%
Calcium 2mg0%
Iron 0mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you are looking for a sugar-free version of cranberry sauce, try this one sweetened with honey.

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8 comments on “The Best Orange Cranberry Sauce”

  1. Up until this past thanksgiving I always had CANNED cranberry sauce!
    I’ll let you recover….

    This was sweet and tangy, just like cranberry sauce is supposed to be. A+

    But I missed the slurp of the sauce coming out of the can. ๐Ÿ˜‰5 stars

  2. Yum! I love orange juice in my cranberry sauce.5 stars

  3. Easy and fantastic. My daughter is a cranberry sauce fiend and gobbled this up.5 stars

  4. Yum! Cranberry sauce. We just had our Thanksgiving here in Canada, and my recipe is quite similar to yours (except I add cinnamon).
    The Dialect Quiz was fun! It ended up pegging me as either from St. Paul, Minnesota, or Buffalo, New York. Not too bad as I am a Canadian originally from Manitoba who’s lived all over the country before settling onto the west coast.5 stars

    • I think the timing of Canadian Thanksgiving makes so much more sense than US Thanksgiving. If it is meant to celebrate the harvest, late November (our Thanksgiving) is the worst possible time to do so. Nothing is growing in November and all the traditional foods that are served at dinner aren’t actually in season. It makes zero sense to me!

  5. Yum! Random cranberry side note: We buy the bags of whole cranberries when they go on sale, then throw one in a gallon size ziplock back and use that as an ice pack. The berries hold up really well and mold to whatever injured part of the body.

    • We totally did that too growing up! ๐Ÿ™‚
      I stopped doing it as an adult because the bag got a hole in it and we didn’t notice. It left quite the fun stain.