This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is an easy Thanksgiving side dish recipe you can whip up the morning of the big day without much fuss.
I never liked the canned cranberry sauce, personally. Maybe it was a visual thing, but seeing the jiggly cylinder sliced into rounds on a platter was never appetizing to me. My mom, on the other hand, absolutely loves it. No matter what time of year it is, if there’s roasted poultry–whether it’s a whole chicken, turkey, turkey wings, turkey breast, or chicken thighs–she has to have a can of cranberry sauce set out with it.
It wasn’t until last year that I finally decided to try my hand at homemade cranberry sauce. It is remarkably easy to make, and you need just a few ingredients, many of which you’ll likely have on hand for your other Thanksgiving Day recipes.
How to make my homemade cranberry sauce recipe:
You need just a few ingredients for this classic Thanksgiving side dish recipe. Like most cranberry sauce recipes, this one has the standard stuff–fresh cranberries, orange juice, and sugar. Where I differ is with something a little special: pomegranate juice! Pomegranate juice is a great addition to these cranberries. It’s easy to sway to either end of the spectrum with cranberries. It’ll either be mouth-puckeringly tart or sickeningly sweet. Pomegranate juice mirrors the tartness of cranberries but adds a gorgeous earthy sweetness. Some recipes call for a LOT of pomegranate juice, but I find ¼ cup is enough to have an impact without altering the flavor of the cranberries too much.
To make it, cook all the liquid and sugar until it dissolves. Add the whole cranberries and let them bubble and POP. They will definitely pop, so watch out for sputtering cranberry juice. Once all the cranberries finish popping, simmer for about 30 minutes over low heat, and then refrigerate for a few hours before serving. I like to serve my cranberry sauce warm, so I’ll usually pop it in the fridge if I make them the night before or very early in the morning. Then, I’ll simmer them on the stove for 5–10 minutes just to heat them through. Serve chilled, if you prefer.
Will you be making homemade cranberry sauce this year? Or do you prefer store-bought? There’s no wrong answer!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Medium pot
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup pomegranate juice
- ¼ cup water
Prepare the cranberries:
- Place the cranberries in a strainer and rinse thoroughly. Remove and discard any bruised or mushy cranberries.
Simmer the cranberries:
- Combine the granulated sugar, light brown sugar, orange juice, pomegranate juice, and water in a medium pot. Turn the heat to medium and stir regularly until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is bubbly.
- Add the cranberries to the pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the cranberries begin to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally as the cranberries begin to pop and sputter.
- Simmer for 25–30 minutes, gently mashing the cranberries as they cook.
- Once the cranberry sauce is thickened to your liking, turn off the heat and let stand for 20 minutes. Serve warm or refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.