Homemade cranberry orange sauce bursting with whole fresh cranberries! This homemade fresh cranberry sauce recipe is perfect for special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas, but is super easy to make. You can even make it in your Instant Pot! Sugar free & keto cranberry sauce options included below. 

Homemade cranberry orange sauce with fresh cranberries! You can even make it in your Instant Pot! Sugar free & keto cranberry sauce options included.

In 2017 we did a fun Cranberry Chutney recipe with orange, apple, and warm spices, which is lovely on curries and as a cheese board accoutrement. For Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner though, I usually prefer the classics I loved as a kid. 

The sides were always my favorite and fresh cranberry sauce topped them all. Other favorite Thanksgiving and holiday sides include our Truffle Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Mashed Cauliflower, Wild Mushroom Gravy, and Balsamic Brussels Sprouts.

Fresh cranberries seem so special, as they are only available November-December. I always stock up to make Cranberry Smoothies and Sparkling Cranberry Brie Bites


A bowl of fresh cranberries with oranges in the background. These are the main ingredients in a Cranberry Orange Sauce Recipe.

Cranberry Orange Sauce Ingredients

  • Fresh orange juice 
  • Orange zest 
  • Fresh or frozen cranberries 
  • Sugar (see below for how to make sugar-free cranberry sauce) 

How to Make Cranberry Sauce 

Monk fruit is poured into a saucepan of orange juice while making healthy, sugar free cranberry sauce.

Start with orange juice or water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add your sugar, or monkfruit, for sugar-free. 

A saucepan simmers with sugar and orange juice to start making cranberry orange sauce.

Bring the orange juice/water and sugar to a boil and give a little stir to dissolve the sugar. 

Fresh cranberries are added to a saucepan of orange juice and sugar to make cranberry orange sauce for Thanksgiving.

Add the berries right in on top of the liquid. You can find bags of fresh cranberries November through about January in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores. Some also carry frozen cranberries. 

Stir the cranberries in and let simmer over medium-low heat until the berries begin to burst. If, like me, you like some whole berries in your cranberry sauce, take care not to cook for very long. About 5 minutes is perfect.

Any longer and the sauce will quickly turn into cranberry jam. I recommend removing from the heat just before you think you should, as the residual heat will continue cooking the sauce. 

Fresh homemade cranberry sauce on a steaming wooden spoon.

Fresh cranberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. 

Transfer to a glass jar. This 1/2 liter Weck jar is the perfect size and looks nice enough to serve out of. I get them at World Market but you can also get them on Amazon (affiliate link) here as a set. 

A Weck jar filled with homemade cranberry sauce recipe and topped with orange zest.

Let your homemade cranberry orange sauce cool at room temperature, then serve or refrigerate for up to a week. 

Oranges, fresh cranberries, and zero carb keto sugar free monk fruit sweetener on a countertop. These are the ingredients for a sugar free or keto cranberry sauce.

Sugar Free Keto Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Many people are looking for a sugar-free or keto cranberry sauce recipe, and it’s easy to make. By “sugar-free” we mean no sugar added, as cranberries and oranges both do contain natural sugar. When testing this recipe, my family couldn’t tell the difference between the sugar-free and traditional versions. 

  • My favorite sugar substitute for cranberry sauce, which happens to be keto-friendly is monk fruit. I recommend Lakanato breand, which you can get at Sprouts, Whole Foods, or via my Amazon Affiliate link here (this means I make a small commission when you make a purchase through my link – thanks!). This is a blend of erythritol and monk fruit that is zero calorie, keto approved, and works well as a 1:1 sugar replacement. 
  • To reduce the sugar further, use water instead of orange juice, and go a bit heavier on the orange zest. 

 

An Instant Pot pressure cooker filled with homemade fresh cranberry sauce. Instant Pot cranberry sauce is so easy and tasty!

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

There never seems to be enough stovetop space on Thanksgiving, and cranberry sauce actually works beautifully in the Instant Pot. The trick is to cook half the cranberries at pressure, then simmer the other half on saute mode. That way you get a nice jammy base filled with a bunch of whole berries.

Also, as usual with pressure cooking, you’ll need to reduce the liquid, as there is very little evaporation. This may be my very favorite way to make cranberry sauce. 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe Variations

  • For a more grown-up Cranberry Orange Sauce, stir in 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier), and garnish with another teaspoon orange zest just before serving. 
  • Substitute Champagne or prosecco for the orange juice for a fancy Champagne Cranberry Sauce
  • Add 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon for a Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Common Cranberry Sauce Questions

How long does cranberry sauce last? 

Homemade cranberry sauce will last in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Let sit at room temperature for half an hour before serving. 

Can you freeze cranberry sauce? 

Yes! To freeze cranberry sauce, store in an airtight container or freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. It’s best when used within a few months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator. 

How do you serve cranberry sauce? 

Cranberry sauce is best served at room temperature, though I think it’s still delicious when warm from cooking or cold from the refrigerator. Cranberry sauce is traditionally served with turkey, though as a vegetarian, I still absolutely love it with just the sides, or you can try it with our Mushroom Wellington or Lentil Loaf (just omit the ketchup topping). 

What to do with leftover cranberry sauce? 

Try our favorite Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Thanksgiving Sandwich, or make a fancy grilled cheese with brie and cranberry sauce. 

Yield: about 2 cups

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Homemade cranberry orange sauce bursting with whole fresh cranberries! This homemade fresh cranberry sauce is perfect for special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas, but is super easy to make. You can even make it in your Instant Pot! Sugar free & keto cranberry sauce options included below. 

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar or Monkfruit sweetener
  • 12 oz. (3 cups) fresh for frozen cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest

Instructions

Stovetop Cranberry Orange Sauce

  1. Add 1 cup of orange juice and the sugar or monkfruit sweetener to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Add the cranberries and stir in with a wooden spoon. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until many of the berries have begun to burst.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer to a 1/2 liter jar. Stir in the orange zest. Let cool at room temperature.
  4. Taste and add liquid sweetener such as maple syrup, honey, or agave to taste if not sweet enough.

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

  1. Add 1/3 cup orange juice to the Instant Pot liner. Top with 1/2 of the cranberries.
  2. Lock the lid, with valve set to sealing. Set to pressure cook/manual mode (high) for 5 minutes.
  3. When the cook time is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure. Carefully remove the lid.
  4. Set to saute (medium or high) and add the sugar/monkfruit and rest of the berries. Simmer just until the cranberries begin to burst, about 3 minutes, adding more orange juice or water if needed to thin. Transfer to a jar to cool.

Notes

Most traditional cranberry sauce recipes call for 1 full cup of sugar, though I prefer 1/2 cup and gaining more sweetness from fresh orange juice. If you want more sweetness after cooking, add maple or agave syrup to taste.

Store cranberry sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. You can also freeze cranberry sauce. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Sugar Free/Keto Cranberry Sauce


Use monkfruit sweetener(Lakanato brand recommended) instead of cane sugar. Replace orange juice with water.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe Variations

  • For a more grown-up Cranberry Orange Sauce, stir in 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier), and garnish with another teaspoon orange zest just before serving. 
  • Substitute Champagne or prosecco for the orange juice for a fancy Champagne Cranberry Sauce
  • Add 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon for a Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 83 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 1mg Carbohydrates: 21g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 17g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 0g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.