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The Best Homemade Fresh Cranberry Sauce

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Brian Humiston – @brians_eats_lv
There's no way you can skip making this homemade fresh cranberry sauce recipe this Thanksgiving. It is truly the best.
Prep Time :5 minutes
Cook Time :30 minutes
Total Time :35 minutes
Servings: 8



  • Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. If you get some of the pulp from the oranges while squeezing, it will help thicken the sauce a little. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the cranberries start to break down and fall apart.
  • Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container or freeze for up to 6 months.


homemade fresh cranberry sauce recipe
Credit: Brian Humiston

How long does fresh homemade cranberry sauce last?

Fresh homemade cranberry sauce typically lasts for about 2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator. To ensure its longevity, transfer the sauce into an airtight container, preventing exposure to air and moisture. The natural acidity of cranberries helps preserve the sauce, and if you notice any signs of spoilage, such as an off odor or mold, it’s advisable to discard it. For an extended shelf life, freezing is an option, with homemade cranberry sauce staying good for up to 6 months when properly stored in a freezer-safe container.

How do you take the bitterness out of homemade fresh cranberry sauce?

To mitigate the bitterness in homemade cranberry sauce, start by adjusting the sweetness. Increase the sugar gradually, tasting as you go until the desired balance is achieved. Adding sweeteners like honey or orange juice can also help counteract bitterness. Incorporating complementary flavors, such as cinnamon or a citrus zest, can enhance the overall taste and mask any lingering bitterness. Additionally, allowing the sauce to cool and mature for a few hours or overnight often mellows the flavors.

Why is my homemade cranberry sauce runny?

One common reason is undercooking the cranberries; they contain natural pectin that helps thicken the sauce, and insufficient cooking time may result in a thinner consistency. Using too much liquid or not enough sugar can also affect the texture. If the sauce hasn’t cooled completely, it may still be in a liquid state. Additionally, overprocessing the cranberries can break down their natural structure, leading to a runny sauce. To remedy this, simmer the sauce for a longer duration to allow for thickening or add a natural thickening agent like chia seeds or cornstarch.

homemade fresh cranberry sauce recipe
Credit: Brian Humiston

How do you know when cranberry sauce is done?

As the sauce simmers, cranberries burst and release natural pectin, thickening the mixture. Stirring occasionally, you’ll notice the sauce thickening and the cranberries breaking down, giving it a chunky yet cohesive texture. The color deepens as the berries cook, and the sauce becomes glossy. Taste is a crucial indicator – it should strike a balance between sweet and tart. Once the desired consistency is achieved, usually after 15-20 minutes of simmering, and the cranberries have softened, the sauce is done. Remove it from heat, and as it cools, it will continue to thicken.

homemade fresh cranberry sauce recipe
Credit: Brian Humiston

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