How to Make Your Own Cranberry Sauce

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes nature’s own festive jewel, the cranberry! While only in season a short time (October through December), the holidays are a fantastic time to show of the versatility of this scarlet red berry. 

Paula’s favorite way to take advantage of fresh cranberries is to make a homemade cranberry sauce. Every holiday season, while we brainstorm article ideas in our test kitchen, she tells us that she simply cannot believe how many people buy canned cranberry sauce when fresh sauce is so easy to make! So, here’s our simple how-to on making your own cranberry sauce from scratch:

Cranberries are tart and sweet so we like to make a sauce that compliments those flavors. Oranges, cinnamon, ginger, pomegranates, and even something spicy and smoky like chipotles, can all work well with the tart bold flavor of cranberries. Don’t limit yourself to a plain Jane cranberry sauce. Be inspired and make something unique this year. But also, be careful of over doing it, you don’t want to upset the traditionalists.

Now, here’s the best part of making your own cranberry sauce: you simply add all your chosen flavorings to a large saucepan along with cranberries, sugar, and some water, and simmer away for about 15 minutes. It’s just that easy!

Another fabulous thing about cranberry sauce is that it can be made ahead. And we’re talking in the neighborhood of three days ahead, which gives the sauce plenty of time to marry together those delicious flavors, which in turn, gives you plenty more space on the stovetop for when you’re really hustling to get those side dishes out on the table. Less stress and no mess!

Homemade cranberry sauce is simple to make, can be made in advance, tastes delicious, and is also good for you. Maybe this is why cranberries are a “super food”! Cranberries have a high concentration of vitamin C and fiber, making them a great addition to your holiday table. Try it this year with a Christmas turkey, goose, or roast, and make your whole family a happy and smiling bunch.

Try this basic cranberry sauce at your next holiday meal.  If you feel like getting creative, try adding 1 or 2 fun additions to make it your own special recipe.

1(12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt

Stir in the cranberries, water, sugar, and pinch of salt to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring on occasion, for 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Makes 3 cups

Special Additions:
1 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries
1 minced chipotle pepper (packed in adobo)
Trade in ½ cup water for ½ cup pomegranate juice, orange juice, or apple cider (choose just 1 juice)
Sprinkle in the Zest of 1 orange
Add chopped apples or pears
Season with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Fold in ½ cup chopped candied ginger
Toss in some fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme (try just 1 teaspoon of each)

**Pictured above: Wayne’s Cranberry Sauce.

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Reader Comments:


I make fresh cranberry sauce every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I use i cup of orange juice in place of the water. Once you have had home made you will never eat it out of a can again.

By Jim Severance on December 20, 2011


My mother always made her own cranberry sauce and she put apples and oranges in it.My neice Mary Ellison now makes it for her mother and me and uses the same receipe. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOUR FAMILY !!!!!!!!!!! LOVE,MARTHA TICE

By Martha TICE on December 20, 2011


Just a note to say that using Splenda instead of sugar in any recipe works just as well. I have used Splenda in my cranberry sauce for years, and it jells nicely and tastes great! It's a lighter version of a quick and easy recipe for those of us with Diabetes.

By Crystal on December 06, 2011


I make homemade cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving and Christmas. My add-ins are e canned veorange juice, chopped dried apricots, orange segment and I've been making my own cranberry sauce for over 20 years. To fresh cranberries I add orange juice, chopped dried apricots, orange segments, and thinly sliced orange peel. Cook until the berries pop and they glisten. About 15 minutes My family won't eat the canned stuff. Happy Holidays to all.

By Karen on December 06, 2011

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm