Cranberry Orange Sauce

This cranberry orange sauce is the perfect addition to your holiday meal! It’s made with fresh cranberries, orange zest & juice, and is naturally sweetened with maple syrup. The flavors are a perfect blend of tart and sweet, and it’s SO easy to make.

A bowl of cranberry orange sauce with a spoon in it. Around the bowl of sauce is a small bowl of cranberries, cinnamon sticks, and a gray napkin.

If you love cranberry sauce, as I do, you’ll love to know that it’s the easiest thing to make at home! It’s different from the store-bought sauce, but I think it’s 100% better. The tart and sweet flavors from the cooked cranberries and the orange are absolutely perfect when paired with a roasted holiday turkey!

And the best part about making it yourself? It’s super easy to prepare. You can make it days ahead of time to make preparation simple, and have it ready in the fridge when your meal is served.

This recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make, and puts any store-bought cranberry sauce to shame! It’s a win-win situation all around.

Ingredients – What You Need

To make this cranberry sauce, you’ll only need 5 ingredients! See below for the full list.

Ingredients for cranberry orange sauce arranged on a tan background.

Fresh cranberries: the star of the show!
Orange zest & juice: this recipe calls for both the zest of an orange and the juice for lots of bright flavors!
Maple syrup: to naturally sweetened the cranberry sauce we are using maple syrup! You can also swap for coconut sugar or honey too.
Cinnamon stick: to infuse a little bit of spice, we’ll use a cinnamon stick to simmer with the sauce.

Step-by-Step Instructions

First, rinse the cranberries and pick out any soft berries.

(1-2) Then in a medium pot, add the cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, and cinnamon stick.

Two photos in a collage showing steps one and two for making cranberry orange sauce. The first and second image are ingredients being poured into a pot with cranberries.

(3) Bring it to a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cranberries will pop open and naturally start to break down.

(4) After most of the cranberries have opened, place the sauce on LOW heat and let thicken for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the berries have broken down completely and the sauce is thick, shut off the heat and let it cool. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve!

Two images showing steps three and four in how to make cranberry sauce. The third step is the cranberries popping in a pot, the fourth step and image is a pot of cranberries thickening in a pot.

Tips for Success

More natural sweeteners to use – if you don’t have maple syrup, you can also use coconut sugar or honey instead.

Adjust sweetness to your liking – I personally don’t like a super sweet cranberry sauce. This recipe calls for just a 1/2 cup of maple syrup, but you can of course add more if you need to!

No cinnamon stick? No problem – A stick of cinnamon is nice to use in this sauce because it infuses a subtle flavor without adding cinnamon. But you can swap for 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon instead.

How to Make it Ahead of Time

Make it ahead fresh: this sauce is perfect for making ahead of time for any meal – but especially holiday meals! You can make it days or even a week ahead of your dinner. Just be sure it’s stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.

How to freeze it: cranberry sauce actually freezes great! So if you want to save any leftovers for a meal down the down, place it in a freezer-friendly bag, remove the air, and seal it shut. Keep frozen for up to 2 months!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cranberry sauce made of? Traditionally it’s made of just three ingredients – cranberries, water, and sugar! But in this recipe, we swap the water for orange juice and the sugar for maple syrup.

Can I use frozen cranberries? Yes! Fresh is best, but you can use frozen cranberries instead too. I recommend thawing the cranberries for about 20 minutes before making the recipe.

How do I fix bitter cranberry sauce? If for some reason the sauce comes out slightly bitter, just add a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey at a time until it’s sweet enough. I do not recommend using regular grain sugar to fix this problem because the graininess won’t mix properly.

A bowl of cranberry orange sauce with a spoon in it. Around the bowl of sauce is a small bowl of cranberries, cinnamon sticks, and a gray napkin.

What to Serve with Cranberry Sauce

Some of my favorite things to serve with this sauce is roasted turkey! You can make it with a Thanksgiving turkey, our air fryer turkey breast, or any roasted poultry. Aside from holiday dinners, you can also serve it on a cheese board, add it to yogurt, or grilled cheese. So many different options!

If you tried this Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Orange Sauce recipe or any other recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, and FACEBOOK for more crave-worthy content.

A bowl of cranberry orange sauce with a spoon in it. Around the bowl of sauce is a small bowl of cranberries, cinnamon sticks, and a gray napkin.

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Orange Sauce

This cranberry orange sauce is the perfect addition to your holiday meal! It's made with fresh cranberries, orange zest & juice, and is naturally sweetened with maple syrup. The flavors are a perfect blend of tart and sweet, and it's SO easy to make.

Servings 6
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Cooling time: 15 mins

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Tags: cranberry orange sauce, cranberry sauce with orange
Freezer Friendly: Yes
Calories: 79 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick or sub for 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Instructions

  1. Rinse the cranberries: First, rinse the cranberries under cold water. Pick out any berries that are smashed or crushed.

  2. Simmer the sauce: add the cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice, zest, and cinnamon stick to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cranberries will begin to pop open and break down on their own.

  3. Lower heat: once most of the cranberries have popped open, place the heat on LOW and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will reduce, thicken, and the cranberries will form a sauce. If you like a chunkier sauce you can leave it as is, or you can use a spoon to smash down any cranberries that aren't smooth.

  4. Cool the sauce: once the sauce is finished, taste, and adjust with more sweetness if preferred. Then shut off the heat and let the sauce cool completely before placing it in an airtight container and refrigerating, or serve warm!

Notes

Make it ahead: this sauce is perfect for making ahead of time for any meal – but especially holiday meals! You can make it days or even a week ahead of your dinner. Just be sure it’s stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.

How to freeze: cranberry sauce actually freezes great! Place it in a freezer-friendly bag, remove the air, and seal it shut. Freeze for up to 2 months!

Nutrition Facts
Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Orange Sauce
Amount Per Serving (0.25 cup)
Calories 79 Calories from Fat 8
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.9g1%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.2g
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 7.2mg0%
Potassium 2mg0%
Carbohydrates 82.7g28%
Fiber 4.3g17%
Sugar 72.5g81%
Protein 0.3g1%
Vitamin A 0IU0%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Bethany Kramer

Bethany Kramer is the cook and photographer behind A Simple Palate. She found a deep love for food and nutrition after learning to cook from her mom at eight years old. Since then she’s been developing and sharing recipes from her own kitchen that are bold in flavor and nourishing to the body!

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