Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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Making some homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, or any meal, is so simple and far more delicious than what you can buy at the store. Here’s a quick way to whip up this holiday favorite.

a bowl of cranberry sauce

We go berry picking every summer and fall to gather up the amazing bounty of wild berries that Alaska provides. Wild low bush cranberries are one of our favorites and there are so many ways to use them. This homemade cranberry sauce is a simple way to enjoy our harvest when we gather around the Thanksgiving table.

We are definitely thankful for the berries that fill our freezer so we can enjoy them throughout the winter. You can read all about freezing berries in this post. They are great for tossing into pancake batter or muffins, sprinkling on homemade ice cream or yogurt, and as a special side dish on Thanksgiving.

We spend hours and make several trips to pick berries during the summer months so they are very precious to us and we never waste them. A recipe like this uses more berries than I would like since I tend to stretch them over the entire year by using a little at a time.

However, it’s a special dish to share at Thanksgiving and a reminder of the bounty of Alaska that we are grateful for as well as our time picking them together.

Ingredients for Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  • Fresh or Frozen Cranberries-We are fortunate to have wild low bush cranberries growing all over the place where we live here in Alaska. We spend hours picking them in the fall when they are ready. I freeze them to save for later. If using fresh cranberries, be sure to pick out any stems or leaves prior to cooking. If using frozen cranberries, no need to thaw first.
  • Honey-We use raw honey from our own bees and it makes this dish smell so amazing when it’s cooking!
  • Water
  • Zest of 1 Orange-Optional, it adds a little zing of flavor and can help offset the tartness of the berries. Although I find that the honey does this nicely so I don’t mind omitting it.

This recipe is easy to double or triple depending on how many you are serving.

a jar of honey and a jar of frozen cranberries

Tools You Will Need

  • Medium Saucepan
  • Measuring Cup
  • Mixing Spoon
  • Grater
a bowl of cranberry sauce

How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Start by bringing the water and honey to a boil in a stainless steel medium sauce pan.

Add the cranberries and reduce heat to make sure it doesn’t boil over.

a pot of berries

Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cranberries have broken open and the sauce begins to thicken.

Cranberry sauce cooking

If using, stir in the orange zest and mix well. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or until the sauce has cooled completely and thicken nicely.

a bowl of grated orange peel

This sauce can be made several days ahead of time and kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. or freeze it for up to three months, thawing before use.

When you’re ready to serve it, you can leave it chilled or reheat it in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in a splash or two of water or apple juice if you want to make it a bit thinner before serving.

a pottery bowl

Cranberry sauce is a staple at the Thanksgiving table but can be served with any meal for a sweet side dish. Using honey instead of refined sugar makes it better too.

Bowl of cranberry sauce

I’ve already made my sauce so I’m ready for Thursday’s special meal with our family! All I’ll have to do is reheat it right before we eat. Sharing a dish that the whole family helped to provide together makes the meal even more meaningful.

Cranberry Sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce is a delicious dish to serve on Thanksgiving or with any other meal! Naturally sweetened with honey, simple to make, and reheats nicely if made ahead of time.
Print Recipe
a bowl of cranberry sauce
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:15 minutes


  • Medium saucepan
  • Measuring cup
  • Mixing spoon
  • Grater


  • 4 cups Fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup Honey
  • 1 cup Water
  • Zest of one orange optional


  • Add honey and water to saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Stir in cranberries and reduce heat.
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until cranberries have popped open and sauce begins to thicken.
  • Stir in orange zest if using and remove from heat.
  • Allow to cool and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  • Serve cold or reheat in a saucepan.


Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw a day or two before needed. This dish can be served chilled or reheated. This recipe easily doubles or triples.
Servings: 4

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