No holiday table feels complete without some cranberry sauce; the tart-sweetness helps balance out all the other rich dishes. This cranberry sauce with frozen cranberries is our go-to recipe packed with tons of flavor from simple ingredients like cinnamon and fresh orange.
Skip the jello-like canned cranberry sauce this year and make your own cranberry sauce. It’s the perfect side dish and takes just 15 minutes to make this easy recipe. Plus, it is much more flavorful than the canned stuff. This cranberry sauce with frozen cranberries makes an appearance at our Thanksgiving dinner year after year – it’s just the BEST cranberry sauce recipe!
If you are having trouble finding fresh cranberries at the grocery store, don’t forget to check out the freezer. Frozen cranberries are sometimes easier to find and work really well in cranberry sauce.
As a plant-based dietitian, I also love that cranberries are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Cranberries: use fresh or frozen whole cranberries for this homemade cranberry sauce recipe. No need to thaw the frozen cranberries, you can just add them to the saucepan straight from the freezer. You’ll need an entire 12-ounce bag of cranberries for this easy homemade cranberry sauce recipe.
- Orange: fresh squeezed orange juice and some orange zest add sweetness and delicious citrus flavor to this Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. It also helps balance out the bitterness of the cranberries. Using fresh orange juice is also one of our favorite ways to reduce the amount of sugar needed for this recipe.
- Maple Syrup: rather than granulated white sugar or brown, you’ll use pure maple syrup to sweeten this sauce.
- Orange Liqueur: add even more orange flavor with a little bit of orange liqueur like Grand Marnier in the sauce. You can skip altogether or substitute with another liquor like bourbon, a splash of port, or even red wine.
- Cinnamon: we love adding a bit of cinnamon to our simple cranberry sauce recipe as it adds some warming flavor to this tart dish. We used ground cinnamon, but you can throw a cinnamon stick into the pot while cooking and then strain it out before serving.
How to Make Cranberry Sauce with Frozen Cranberries
- Simmer in a saucepan: making homemade cranberry sauce couldn’t be any easier. Just combine cranberries with the rest of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. As it simmers, the cranberries will start to pop and break down. (You can also help break them open with the back of a spoon or a potato masher.) Simmer until thickened to your liking.
- Allow to cool: allow the cranberry sauce to cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving. You can also store it in the fridge until ready to use and serve it chilled.
Yes! Both homemade and store-bought cranberry sauce is naturally gluten free.
Yes, both homemade and store bought cranberry sauce is normally vegan. Although a store bought can of cranberry sauce often has the texture of a gelatin, it does not contain any animal products. Cranberries have a lot of natural pectin which gives it that jello like texture.
The best temperature to serve cranberry sauce is room temperature or slightly chilled. Cooked cranberry sauce thickens as it chills.
Health Benefits of Cranberries
As you spoon cranberries onto your plate at Thanksgiving, have you ever wondered why cranberries are good for you? Like most berries, cranberries have a lot to offer nutrition-wise!
- Rich in Antioxidants: eating foods rich in antioxidants helps reduce the oxidative damage that occurs to our cells which can increase the risk of chronic disease. Cranberries may help slow the growth of certain cancers like breast, prostate, colon, and lung per this study in Antioxidants.
- Supports Heart Health: cranberries are rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant. People who eat a diet rich in polyphenols often have a lower risk of heart disease. This April 2020 study from British Journal of Nutrition found that drinking cranberry juice lowered triglyceride levels, a heart disease risk factor.
- Supports Gut Health: the fiber in cranberries can help keep you regular while also supporting beneficial gut bacteria per this 2018 study from Advanced Science.
What to Eat with Cranberry Sauce
Other than serving this easy cranberry sauce recipe alongside all of your other vegan Thanksgiving dishes like this vegan green bean casserole, there are so many other fun ways to enjoy cranberry sauce. We love adding it to vegan overnight oats or this cinnamon oatmeal recipe. It is also a delicious topping for a bowl of yogurt, waffles, or pancakes.
For a savory option, mix cranberry sauce with BBQ sauce and use as a sauce or marinade for BBQ tempeh or seitan. Leftover cranberry sauce can also be blitzed into a salad dressing with balsamic vinegar – that would be delicious on this apple, kale, walnut salad.
- How long does cranberry sauce last in the fridge? Homemade cranberry sauce can be stored in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 10-14 days.
- How to freeze cranberry sauce: Homemade cranberry sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. (Technically, you can keep it for up to a year, but it will lose some of its freshness.) Just make sure to store in a freezer friendly container that is airtight.
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Cranberry Sauce with Frozen Cranberries
- 1 (12 oz) bag frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 orange, juiced
- 1 teaspoon orange zest (from 1 orange)
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Add all of the ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. As it simmers, the cranberries will start to pop and break down. (You can also help break them open with the back of a spoon.) Simmer until thickened to your liking.
- Allow your cranberry sauce to cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving. You can also store it in the fridge until ready to use and serve it chilled.
- Make Ahead: cranberry sauce tastes better chilled so feel free to make it up to 3-4 days ahead of time if you’d like.
- Freezer: cranberry sauce can be frozen! Just add to an airtight container after it has cooled to room temperature and freeze for up to 3 months.