Easy homemade cranberry sauce with apples, is made with fresh cranberries and only 3 other simple ingredients. It really is a must-have for any Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!
Once you make this best homemade cranberry sauce, I'm positive that you will not want to go back to the canned variety!
Have you been buying cans or jars of cranberry sauce? There certainly are some pretty tasty ones that we grew up with, and it is easy to serve.
We feel this easy make-ahead cranberry sauce is much better than canned cranberry sauce. The best part is to be able to make it ahead at busy times of the year is a game changer for the holidays.
It really is so easy to make in as little as 15 minutes, to surprise and please your family during the holidays. Also makes a great hostess gift!
When I joined my husband's family, who love cranberry sauce, nobody wanted my homemade cranberry sauce. Nobody!
The family was the persuaded to give it a try, and now we need multiple serving stations of this cranberry recipe all over the table. It's that good!
To have enough for turkey thanksgiving leftovers I have to make a secret stash of my thanksgiving cranberry sauce hidden away.
We all have that uncle who will only eat canned cranberry sauce at thanksgiving dinner.
The key to this recipe to please even the most ardent cranberry sauce in a can lovers, is allowing it time to cool and set.
If you put this cranberry recipe in a can we believe the homemade cranberry sauce would win in a landslide.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Easy to make 4 ingredient simple cranberry sauce
- Make ahead to help eliminate stress during the holidays
- Makes a lovely hostess gift and custom decorate the jar
- Taste much better than canned cranberry sauce
- Great as a condiment with meat recipes all year long
How to eat cranberry sauce
Cranberries are very tart which is why you need the sugar and I like to use apples as well to balance out the tartness with some sweetness.
Because of this cranberry sauce makes an excellent pairing combination with meat in so many dishes.
Cranberry sauce for turkey is of course delicious, some enjoy it not just on their turkey but on stuffing, green bean casserole and mashed potatoes.
It is equally as good with a chicken and stuffing dinner, or a condiment on chicken and stuffing casserole and a chicken sandwich.
We also enjoy cranberry sauce served with pork dinner whether it be pork chops, pork and stuffing or as a condiment on a pulled pork sandwich.
Ham and cranberry pair very well served as a condiment with a smoked holiday ham, the tart and sweet with the salty ham is so good!
Cranberry sauce ingredients
- Fresh or frozen cranberries (they suddenly pop up in the produce section around Thanksgiving and Christmas)
- Apples (tart apples are better like Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Golden delicious) to further help balance the tartness of the cranberries
- Granulated sugar
How to make the best cranberry sauce recipe
1. In a medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan, combine water, sugar and ground cinnamon. Stir to dissolve sugar.
2. Gradually bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
3. Add cranberries and apples and return to a boil, stirring occasionally.
4. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Cool completely before storing in a refrigerator container.
15 minutes start to finish!
Variations for gourmet cranberry sauce recipe
This is where making fresh cranberry sauce and customizing it, is fun.
You can make a cranberry orange sauce or spiced cranberry orange sauce with a few tweaks to this recipe.
Instead of adding apples use a ½ cup of orange juice (fresh squeezed is best) and the zest of one orange, vanilla extract (¼ teaspoon) mixed in with the ingredients where the apples were.
For the spiced orange cranberry sauce version, add to cranberry sauce with orange juice ingredients above with ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves.
Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce is another spicy cranberry sauce version to try.
Adding in your favorite chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts adds crunch and more texture.
Instead of apples your could use sliced pears or both apples and pears for cranberry apple sauce or a cranberry pear sauce recipe.
For an adults only twist add a splash of brandy, rum or a bourbon cranberry sauce.
You can adjust the sugar or sweetness level to suit your preferences.
Turn this cranberry sauce into the best Christmas food gift
A gift from the kitchen is a gift from the heart. Package up an extra jar of cranberry sauce for a friend and loved one or perfect for a hostess gift.
With a small piece of fabric and twine, this gift is quick and easy to prepare for any time of year 🙂
Top tips for making fresh cranberry sauce
- Sort quickly through the cranberries first and remove any soft or blemished ones
- We find tart apples are better like Granny Smith and Pink Lady but you can use your favorite apples, they really help balance the tartness
- Allow to cool and set for at least a couple of hours in the fridge
- Have extra bags of cranberries around to make if needed for leftovers
Can cranberry sauce be made in advance?
Yes it can be, this is one of the best parts of making homemade cranberry sauce. Make ahead for 7 to 10 days before serving.
Storage & freezing instructions for Christmas cranberry sauce recipe
Store cranberry sauce in an airtight container for up to 10 days in the fridge.
Cranberry sauce freezes very well in a freezer-safe container for 4 to 6 months.
Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature before serving.