Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce
This easy Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce recipe has been gracing our Thanksgiving table for many years. With bright, fresh flavors and warm spices, it’s a delightful holiday side dish!
My Favorite Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe
While I have to agree that it’s just not Thanksgiving without a dish of that jiggly jellied cranberry sauce, straight from the can (my dad’s favorite), I’m also a huge fan of homemade cranberry sauce. I like the bites of fresh, tart cranberries simmered in warm spices. So pretty and festive, it’s a simple side dish that’s perfect for the holidays!
I’ve been making this Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce for many years. It’s delightful, with fresh cranberries, apple bites, and orange juice and zest. Sweetened with pure maple syrup and warmed by cinnamon, cloves, and bits of candied ginger, this is my favorite homemade cranberry sauce!
What You’ll Need
When fresh cranberries become available each fall, THIS is the side dish you’ll want to make. Here’s what you’ll need!
- Orange – Look for a large naval orange with fresh, supple peel, as you’ll be using both the juice and the zest from the entire orange.
- Apples – Grab a couple Granny Smith apples for the perfect tart flavor and firm texture.
- Cranberries – This recipe calls for 6 cups of fresh cranberries, which is about two 12-ounce bags.
- Sugar – I use a combination of granulated sugar and maple syrup to sweeten the sauce.
- Maple syrup – Use only pure maple syrup (not a bottled pancake syrup that includes other ingredients).
- Cinnamon & cloves – These spices add warm flavor and aroma, to taste and smell like the holidays!
- Candied ginger – I adore the spiced kick of ginger. This ingredient is a fun addition!
How To Make Cranberry Sauce
This sauce is so delicious and easy to make, it’s a shame to only serve it for special holiday meals. I encourage you to have a batch in the fridge all winter long, as it really is the perfect bright and tangy side dish for comfort meals. Here’s how to make this recipe:
- Cook: Combine all ingredients except candied ginger in a medium pot. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat to simmering. Cook until cranberries “pop”, apples soften, and sauce thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Finish & Chill: Stir in candied ginger, remove from heat, and let cool completely before serving. Chill in the refrigerator before serving if desired.
Tips & Variations
A few tips and variations from me to you, for the best homemade sauce using fresh cranberries:
- Use fresh orange juice. Some cranberry sauce recipes use just water to break down the fresh cranberries. But trust me, using freshly squeezed orange juice is the way to go!
- Play with the sweetness. Maybe you like a super tart cranberry sauce, with only a bit of sweetness – then reduce the sugar. For those of you who like it sweeter, add more sugar. You could also play around with using brown sugar instead of the granulated sugar. And honey instead of maple syrup. Just start with smaller quantities and taste as you go.
- Make it thick or thin. If you like a thicker cranberry sauce, just simmer the sauce longer. If you like it looser/thinner, then include additional orange juice or up to 2 cups of water. Just keep in mind that cranberry sauce will be looser while it’s hot and will thicken as it cools and sets.
- Change up the flavors. Try adding other citrus flavors, such as lemon or grapefruit zest. Fresh grated ginger would give extra zing. Pure vanilla extract would add a touch of warm, mellow flavor. And spices like cardamom, nutmeg, and star anise would also be beautiful!
- Can’t find fresh cranberries? Look in the frozen section – frozen cranberries will work, too!
Can Cranberry Sauce Be Made in Advance?
Absolutely! This is a perfect dish to get off your plate before Thanksgiving day. Make it up to a few days in advance, let it cool to room temperature, and then store it in a covered container in the fridge. There’s a bonus to this method, too >>> the flavors will meld together and deepen while the sauce hangs out in the refrigerator!
Can I Freeze Cranberry Sauce?
This is a recipe that does really well in the freezer. I NEVER throw cranberry sauce away! Simply place it in a freezer-safe container (be sure to leave a 1/2″ gap below the lid for possible expansion as it freezes) and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Then thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to use. Warm it up in the microwave or on the stovetop, if desired.
What to do with Leftover Cranberry Sauce
Leftover cranberry sauce is one of my favorite things – the possibilities for using it are endless! This is one of the reasons that I will never throw out cranberry sauce; I’d rather stick it in the freezer to enjoy on a later day.
Add it to turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving, stir it into your morning oatmeal, or create a tangy smoothie. It’s a wonderful side to many savory comfort meals, especially wonderful served alongside Swedish Meatballs!
For more ideas, see 20 Ways to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce!
What to Serve with Cranberry Sauce
Thanksgiving and Christmas meals deserve a festive side of cranberry sauce. Here are some more recipes fitting for a holiday dinner:
- Grilled Turkey Tenderloin with Brown Sugar and Whole Grain Mustard
- Mustard Pork Loin Roast
- Baked Pork Chops & Stuffing
- Turkey Wild Rice Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Pork Chops with Andouille & Pecan Stuffing
- Turkey Dinner Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Holiday Wild Rice Salad
- Harvest Salad with Butternut Squash
- Easy Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Baked Potatoes
- Green Bean Casserole from Scratch
- Honey Cornbread Muffins
- Cinnamon Honey Butter
- Cornbread Dressing with Sausage & Pecans
Like this recipe? Save it to Pinterest!
More Fresh Cranberry Recipes
- Cranberry Christmas Cake with Butter Cream Sauce
- Sugared Cranberries
- Orange Skillet Cake with Cranberries & White Chocolate
- Cranberry Pecan Cheeseball from Creme De La Crumb
- Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies from The View From Great Island
- Nutty Oatmeal Cranberry Bars from She Wears Many Hats
- 1 large naval orange, zested and juiced
- 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into 1/4" pieces
- 6 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup sugar (or more, to taste)
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
- In a medium saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, combine orange juice and zest, apples, cranberries, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and cloves. If you like a looser/thinner sauce, add more orange juice or up to 2 cups of water. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Gently stir occasionally, until cranberries "pop", apples soften, and sauce thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir in candied ginger and let cool completely before serving. Chill in the refrigerator before serving if desired.
This makes a large batch, perfect for leftovers!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 90Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 2gSugar: 19gProtein: 0g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.