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A holiday feast wouldn’t be complete without all the side dishes and trimmings, so it’s always a good idea to have a foolproof cranberry sauce recipe in your back pocket. Learn how to make cranberry sauce this holiday season rather than opening a can of the ready-made stuff.

If you’re a novice cook or holiday meal host, there’s no need to be daunted. Homemade cranberry sauce can be simple, requiring only a few ingredients, and your guests will definitely appreciate the taste and effort. It’s also a pretty versatile side dish, so if you’re feeling a little experimental, this article offers a few more fresh and tasty takes on the traditional sauce.

A Basic, Delicious Cranberry Sauce Recipe (And Other Types To Try)

This easy recipe promises amplified flavors which are much better than canned cranberry sauce. You get that delightful jammy texture and sweet-tart taste that pairs perfectly with your holiday spread – without resorting to fancy kitchen techniques or granulated sugar.

This sauce can be made in just a few minutes on the stove. But, as the flavor deepens over time, you may want to prep this a couple of days ahead.


  • 1 ¼ cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest
  • ⅔ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup maple syrup


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Let simmer until cranberries burst and the mixture comes together in a jam-like consistency, about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the mixture from the heat, and let it cool to room temperature. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.1

Cranberry Sauce With Red Wine, Walnuts, And Orange

The walnuts add an interesting texture and the addition of red wine gives this version of cranberry sauce an elegant, festive twist. This recipe also uses sugar replacements instead of white sugar.


  • 12 ounces cranberries (fresh)
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • ⅔ cup granular sugar replacement (like Swerve)
  • Zest of one orange (some grated, some in strips)
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts


  1. Combine the cranberries and all the other ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the sugar replacement is dissolved.
  2. Reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally until berries burst. Remove from heat.
  3. Mix in walnuts. Transfer to a serving bowl, and serve cooled.2

Cranberry And Walnut Relish

Looking for a unique texture? Cranberry relish could be the way to go. Instead of simmering the berries ’til they go jammy, this vegan, gluten-free take soaks dried cranberries in Zinfandel before tossing in other flavors. This relish would be perfect to give extra flavor to salads.


  • ½ cup Zinfandel (or any red wine)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (unsweetened)
  • 1 small navel orange
  • 1 Tbsp. agave syrup (optional)
  • ⅔ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • Freshly grated black pepper, to taste


  1. Simmer wine in a small pan over low heat.
  2. Add the cranberries and take off the heat. Let stand to allow the berries to soak up the wine, (about 20 minutes).
  3. Peel and remove the bitter pith of the orange. Slice the orange into segments, reserving any juice. Place orange pieces and juice in a bowl.
  4. Toss in soaked cranberries, agave syrup if using, walnuts, parsley, and black pepper. Mix well.3

Can You Use Frozen Cranberries To Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce?

Most frozen cranberries use fresh berries at their peak. Many recipes that use the stovetop simmering method allow for fresh or frozen cranberries. Often, there’s no need to thaw them fully, either. Try both out, and see which one you’d prefer, but generally, most homemade cranberry sauce recipes are forgiving when it comes to using frozen berries.4

How To Serve Cranberry Sauce

While tradition dictates its best with turkey, there’s nothing stopping you from spooning cranberry sauce over other protein or main dishes. Try it with a delicious tofurky roast. You may even use it as a topping for dairy-free vanilla ice cream. It creates a nice tart contrast to the sweet dessert. Similarly, try it on fruitcakes, rum cake, or other holiday pastries. It can be a versatile sauce filled with flavors of the season.

How To Store And Freeze Cranberry Sauce

If you plan on consuming the sauce within the next two weeks, it’s safe to store it in a properly sealed container in the refrigerator. For longer storage, cranberry sauce can be frozen for about two months. Make sure you inspect any leftover or stored sauce – don’t serve it if there’s mold, an “off” smell or color, or the texture seems funny.5

Complete Your Holiday Dinner With Cranberry Sauce

By making your own cranberry sauce, you can adjust the flavors and sweetness to your liking. You can also make any substitutions or improvements – soon, you might be the official cranberry sauce expert in your family. Homemade cranberry sauce is simple and uses ingredients you may already have at home, so take a stab at it to take your holiday feasting to the next level.

Learn More:
Holiday Recipes: Healthy And Creamy Parsnip Soup Recipe
Delicious Vegan Latte Recipe Ideas You Have To Try
Healthy Vegan Dessert Recipes: Cake, Pie, Brownies, And More