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Favorite Cranberry Orange Sauce


Favorite Cranberry Orange Sauce

The most delicious and easy Cranberry Orange Sauce sweetened with pure maple syrup! A healthier version jazzed up with vanilla, cinnamon, and bourbon if desired. It comes together in no time and is great on top of oatmeal or yogurt!

gray bowl of cranberry sauce with silver spoongray bowl of cranberry sauce with silver spoon

My love for cranberry sauce runs DEEP.

Not the gelatinous kind from a can. Heavens no, that’s just frightening.

Making homemade cranberry sauce is so dang quick and easy that it’s truly bamboozling why anyone would go the canned route. It takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish and lasts for over a week in the fridge. Fabulous much?!

You know I love me some acid balanced with sweet, so my favorite cranberry sauce is packed with bright orange juice and plenty of zest. Fresh is totally best here! And go ahead and get the biggest orange you can find. The more the merrier.

I love a pinch of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla, and even a little bit of bourbon in my cranberry sauce to really take this classic recipe to the next level. It tastes SO good, and not just as a Thanksgiving side dish! Jeff and I devour this stuff on yogurt, oatmeal, toast, sandwiches, and by the spoon! It’s weirdly good with peanut butter, too.

OMG how good does a grilled cheese with cranberry sauce, Granny Smith apple, sharp cheddar, and Dijon sound? Ok I’m dying.

white pot of cranberries and orangewhite pot of cranberries and orangeKey ingredients and substitutions

  • Cranberries: We’re using a 12oz bag of fresh cranberries here. They freeze well so if you have a bag in the freezer like I did, that works great too. Give them a good rinse and pick out any mushy ones so they don’t sneak into the sauce.
  • Orange juice: Fresh is best! Grab the biggest navel orange you can find and get every last drop of juice left. You should have about half a cup. If you can’t make it to the store, bottled orange juice will work in a pinch but you’ll miss the flavor of the zest.
  • Pure maple syrup: The one and only, for deep maple flavor! So much more fun than granulated sugar, if you ask me. Honey would also work, but it may have a more noticeable flavor.
  • Cinnamon: There’s something so lovely about orange and cinnamon. It goes so well with the cranberries and adds extra flavor intrigue. I love Saigon cinnamon from Costco.
  • Bourbon: Another interesting flavor boost that really sets this sauce apart. It heightens the flavor without tasting like whiskey, but you can totally omit it if you’re not feeling that or don’t drink alcohol.
  • Vanilla extract: Because when is vanilla not a grand idea? It rounds out the flavor nicely at the end.

cranberry sauce in gray bowlcranberry sauce in gray bowlIs cranberry sauce healthy?

Indeed, cranberries are super good for you. In addition to offering antibacterial properties, they’re also packed with inflammation-fighting antioxidants and 4 grams of fiber per cup. A newer study suggests that a carbohydrate found in cranberries may have prebiotic benefits for gut bacteria.

Oftentimes the health benefits of cranberries are drowned out by mounds of sugar. I love using maple syrup here for an option lower in refined sugar. We’re also using less added sugar overall than recipes typically call for thanks to naturally sweetened orange juice. That means a welcome boost of vitamin C, too!

I tried out a version last week with half the amount of maple syrup (1/4 cup) and while it was more tart, it was still delish if you want an even lower sugar option.

Serving ideas

If you think this healthy cranberry sauce is solely a Thanksgiving staple, think again! Cranberries freeze really well, so you stock up now while they’re in season and whip up a batch any time of year. Try these other fun ways to enjoy it!

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  • as a yogurt topping with crunchy granola
  • on toasty baguette slices with goat cheese, pecans, and fresh rosemary
  • on steel cut oatmeal with a spoonful of almond or peanut butter
  • on a grilled cheese or turkey sandwich with crisp apples, sharp cheddar or gouda, and Dijon mustard
  • as a smoothie add-in or topping

plate with sweet potatoes and cranberry sauceplate with sweet potatoes and cranberry sauceStorage and freezing tips

This recipe doubles and triples easily if you’re feeding a crowd.

To store: Keep cooled cranberry sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

To freeze: Place cooled cranberry sauce in a freezer-safe container or baggie and freeze for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and enjoy.

More Thanksgiving recipes to love

Oh man, do I have plenty of delish ideas for your turkey table!

Let’s get saucy!


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The most delicious and easy Cranberry Orange Sauce sweetened with pure maple syrup! It’s made extra special with a splash of vanilla extract, cinnamon, and bourbon if desired.This comes together in no time and is delicious on top of oatmeal or yogurt!



  • 12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (not dried)
  • 1 large or 2 medium oranges, zested and juiced (1/2 cup orange juice)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp bourbon (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. Rinse cranberries, sorting through and removing any mushy ones. Place all ingredients except vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. If you like thinner cranberry sauce, you can add 1/3 cup or more of water.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 12 minutes or until thickened. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Transfer sauce to a bowl to cool. Chill in the refrigerator before serving.


TO STORE/MAKE AHEAD: This lasts for 10 days in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

TO FREEZE: Place cooled cranberry sauce in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to two months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

LOWER SUGAR: I’ve made this recipe successfully using 1/4 cup maple syrup. It’s more tart of course, but still delicious! You may want to add 1/4 cup water or extra orange juice as well so it’s not too thick.

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