This Cranberry Sauce Recipe (Vegan and Gluten Free) is so easy – all you need are three ingredients and it only takes ten minutes to make.
Cranberry sauce is popular among Americans for Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas among the British. It takes only 10 minutes making it the best combination of sweet and tart. It complements mashed potatoes very well as well as turkey.
Cranberry Sauce can be served as a side dish or a condiment to complement a variety of dishes, particularly roasted meats such as turkey, ham, or chicken. Cranberry sauce can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator, making it a convenient and tasty addition to holiday meals or other occasions.
The cranberry sauce often gets overlooked and people opt to buy canned cranberry sauce, which truly doesn’t compare to homemade! I love serving this cranberry sauce chilled but you could serve it right away – whatever floats your boat.
What is Cranberry Sauce?
Cranberry sauce is a sweet and tangy condiment made from cranberries, a type of tart red berry native to North America. It is a traditional accompaniment to Thanksgiving and Christmas meals in many countries, including the United States and Canada. Cranberry sauce is typically made by cooking fresh or frozen cranberries with sugar and water, and sometimes other ingredients such as orange juice, cinnamon, or spices, until the berries burst and release their juices, and the mixture thickens into a sauce-like consistency.
Why you will love this recipe
Full of flavor: Using fresh cranberries gives the sauce such a great taste because they burst while you are cooking them. It is better using fresh cranberries than dried cranberries.
Kid Friendly: I looked forward to the cranberry sauce as a kid and I loved adding them on my turkey.
Great for cold weather: I love making this in the fall, especially making leftover turkey sandwiches.
Serves a crowd: It is easy to double the batch to serve for Thanksgiving.
Cranberry Sauce Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Brown sugar
- Fresh cranberries
See recipe card for Cranberry Sauce Recipe (Vegan and Gluten Free) quantities.
How to make Cranberry Sauce
In a saucepan on medium heat, add the water and sugar, stirring constantly, waiting for the sugar to melt.
Once fully melted, add the cranberries and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until the cranberry sauce has a jelly-like consistency.
Let the cranberries cool at least 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Hint: It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
What to serve with Cranberry Sauce
- Thanksgiving Turkey: Cranberry sauce is a classic accompaniment to Thanksgiving turkey. Its tangy sweetness balances out the richness of the roasted turkey, adding a burst of flavor to each bite.
- Roast Chicken: Cranberry sauce can also pair well with my Buttermilk Roasted Chicken. The tartness of the cranberries can help cut through the savory flavors of the chicken, adding a bright and refreshing contrast.
- Pork Roast: Cranberry sauce can add a touch of sweetness and acidity to pork roasts, such as pork loin or pork tenderloin. It can help balance out the richness of the pork and add a burst of flavor to each bite.
- Sandwiches: Cranberry sauce can be used as a spread or condiment in sandwiches, adding a burst of flavor and tangy sweetness. It can pair well with roasted meats, cheeses, and even vegetarian options like grilled vegetables or tofu, adding a unique twist to sandwiches.
- Charcuterie Board: Cranberry sauce can be used as a component in a charcuterie board, adding a touch of sweetness and acidity to balance out the salty and savory flavors of cured meats, cheeses, and other accompaniments.
- Sugar: I used light brown sugar although feel free to use cane or granulated sugar.
- Cranberries: You need to use fresh cranberries in order to make this recipe.
- Salt: Salt should not be confused with savory flavor. Salt is used to enhance flavor, and this will make the sweet and tart flavors pop!
Cranberry Sauce Recipe Variations
- Orange Cranberry Sauce: Add fresh orange juice and zest to the cranberry sauce for a citrusy twist. Simply replace some or all of the water or sugar in the recipe with orange juice, and add grated orange zest for extra flavor.
- Spiced Cranberry Sauce: Add warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger to the cranberry sauce for a fragrant and flavorful twist. Simply simmer the cranberries with the spices along with the sugar and water, and strain out the whole spices before serving.
- Maple Cranberry Sauce: Replace some or all of the sugar with maple syrup for a rich and natural sweetness. Adjust the amount of maple syrup to taste, as it can vary in sweetness.
- Gingered Cranberry Sauce: Add freshly grated ginger to the cranberry sauce for a spicy kick. Adjust the amount of ginger to taste, depending on your preference for spiciness.
- Cranberry-Apple Sauce: Add diced apples to the cranberry sauce for a sweeter and fruitier twist. Simply cook the apples along with the cranberries, sugar, and water until they are soft and tender.
Check out this Homemade Stuffing with Italian Sausage.
- Saucepan or Pot: A medium-sized saucepan or pot to cook the cranberries and other ingredients.
- Wooden Spoon or Spatula: To stir and mix the ingredients in the saucepan while cooking.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: To measure the cranberries, sugar, liquids, and other ingredients accurately.
- Jars or Containers: To store the cranberry sauce once it's cooled. Glass jars or airtight containers are commonly used for storing cranberry sauce in the refrigerator.
- Refrigerator or Freezer: To store the cranberry sauce for future use, if desired.
How to store Cranberry Sauce
- Cool Completely: Allow the cranberry sauce to cool completely at room temperature before storing. Hot cranberry sauce can create condensation inside the storage container, leading to moisture and potential spoilage.
- Choose a Storage Container: Transfer the cooled cranberry sauce to an airtight container or jar. Glass jars or containers with tight-fitting lids are ideal for storing cranberry sauce. Alternatively, you can also use plastic containers or freezer-safe bags.
- Refrigerate or Freeze: Cranberry sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 to 10 days. If you plan to store it for a longer period, you can freeze it for up to 2 to 3 months. Label the container with the date of preparation for easy reference.
- Avoid Overfilling: Leave some headspace in the container to allow for expansion if freezing. Cranberry sauce tends to expand as it freezes, so it's important to leave enough space to prevent the container from cracking.
- Seal Properly: Make sure the container is tightly sealed to prevent air and moisture from entering, which can cause spoilage or freezer burn.
- Thaw Properly: If you freeze the cranberry sauce, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using. Avoid thawing cranberry sauce at room temperature or in warm water to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Check for Freshness: Before using stored cranberry sauce, check for any signs of spoilage, such as an off smell, mold growth, or unusual texture. If the cranberry sauce appears or smells spoiled, discard it.
Cranberry Sauce Recipe Top tips
- Use Fresh Cranberries: Fresh cranberries are best for making cranberry sauce. They have a tart flavor and a firm texture that adds a burst of flavor to the sauce. Avoid using canned or dried cranberries, as they may have added sugars or preservatives that can alter the taste and texture of the sauce.
- Adjust Sweetness to Taste: Cranberry sauce is typically sweetened with sugar or other sweeteners, but the amount can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences. You can start with a smaller amount of sweetener and add more gradually, tasting as you go, until you achieve the desired level of sweetness.
- Add Flavorful Ingredients: Cranberry sauce can be enhanced with various flavorful ingredients such as orange zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, or vanilla extract. These additions can add depth and complexity to the sauce and make it more interesting and unique.
- Don't Overcook: Overcooking cranberry sauce can cause it to become too thick or gelatinous in texture. To avoid this, simmer the sauce over low to medium heat until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, but do not overcook it.
- Add Liquid in Small Amounts: Cranberries release their own juice as they cook, so it's best to start with a small amount of liquid (such as water or orange juice) and add more as needed. This helps prevent the sauce from becoming too watery.
- Allow to Cool and Thicken: Cranberry sauce thickens as it cools, so don't worry if it seems thin while still hot. Allow the sauce to cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator, and it will thicken to the desired consistency.
- Strain for Smooth Sauce (Optional): If you prefer a smoother texture, you can strain the cranberry sauce through a fine mesh sieve or a cheesecloth to remove the cranberry skins and create a smoother sauce.
- Make Ahead of Time: Cranberry sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for several days before serving. This makes it a convenient side dish that can be prepared in advance for holiday meals or gatherings.
- Customize to Your Taste: Cranberry sauce is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit your taste preferences. Feel free to experiment with different sweeteners, flavors, and textures to create your perfect cranberry sauce recipe.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove