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Your holiday table will be complete with this easiest ever cranberry sauce recipe that’s fast, delicious, and has just 4 ingredients! It’s the perfect sweet and tart addition to your feast.

Serve it with my Easy Roast Turkey and Sausage Stuffing as part of your Thanksgiving dinner.

close-up of homemade cranberry sauce

Why you’ll love it

I’ll admit it’s simpler just opening up a can of cranberry sauce, but honestly not by a lot, and making cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries is just so much better. It gives it that special homemade touch. In my version we’ve got tons of flavor but with the signature Salt & Lavender no-fuss method with pared-down ingredients!

This simple cranberry sauce is sweet but not too sweet. You can definitely still taste the tartness of the cranberries, and that’s how it should be. The bright touch it adds to your Thanksgiving plate is sure to impress all your guests. Maybe the only way it could be improved is making my Boozy Cranberry Sauce instead if that’s your thing. 😉

What you’ll need

  • Cranberries – this recipe is intended for fresh ones, but you can use frozen cranberries in this recipe if you wish since they’re available year-round
  • Water or orange juice – using water is best if you want a more pure cranberry flavor. For another dimension, orange and cranberry are a heavenly duo.
  • Brown sugar – for that sweet counterpoint to the tartness
  • Cinnamon – simmering with a stick of cinnamon gives a hint of lovely warm spice

Tips for success

  • I like this sauce to really cook down, but if you prefer to have intact cranberries and more of a rustic texture, you can cook it for less time. 
  • If you want a much smoother and uniform sauce, use an immersion blender to purée it before it cools. 
  • You can serve cranberry sauce at room temperature or chilled. 
close-up of fresh cranberries for cranberry sauce

How to make cranberry sauce

This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

  • Sort through your fresh cranberries carefully to ensure there aren’t any that are past their prime.
  • Add the cranberries, water or orange juice, sugar, and a cinnamon stick to a medium-sized saucepan. Simmer until the cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened.
  • Cool and store the sauce in the fridge until ready to use.

Substitutions and variations

  • You can use granulated (white) sugar if you prefer or that’s all you have on hand.
  • Try adding a pinch of allspice or nutmeg to change things up a bit or even some cloves. Be sure to remove them at the end of cooking.
  • Or grate in some orange zest at the end for a bright citrus pop.

What to serve with it

  • For the holidays you’ll want to serve it alongside turkey and all my favorites from my Thanksgiving and Christmas recipe collection, including my Baked Mac and Cheese and Sweet Potato Casserole.
  • Cranberry sauce isn’t just for the holidays. It can even be used on grilled meats as a glaze and of course in leftover chicken or turkey sandwiches mixed with mayonnaise. Or on toast or pancakes, like you’d use jam or marmalade. So many possibilities!

Leftovers and storage

  • Cranberry sauce can definitely be made a few days ahead and refrigerated. It’ll keep in the fridge for about a week no problem.
  • It can also be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Just make sure it’s cooled down before putting in an airtight container.
easy homemade cranberry sauce in a bowl

Questions? Ask me in the comments below, or leave me a review of this homemade cranberry sauce. Don’t forget to tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram!

close-up of homemade cranberry sauce
4.34 from 3 votes

Super Easy Cranberry Sauce

Your holiday table will be complete with this easiest ever cranberry sauce recipe that's fast, delicious, and has just 4 ingredients! It's the perfect sweet and tart addition to your feast.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water or orange juice
  • 3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • Pick out any cranberries that may be past their prime and discard them.
  • Add the cranberries, water, sugar, and cinnamon stick to a medium-sized saucepan. Give it a good stir.
  • Simmer the mixture over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or so, until the cranberries start to pop and the sauce has started to thicken (stir occasionally). At that point, reduce the heat and continue simmering until the sauce has thickened to your liking (about 10-12 minutes total).
  • Remove cinnamon stick and let the cranberry sauce cool. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.


  • This cranberry sauce is sweet, but it still has a bit of tartness from the cranberries. If you want a very sweet cranberry sauce, add another 1/4 cup of sugar.
  • If you prefer to have more whole/intact cranberries, simmer for less time (8-10 minutes). 
  • Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.


Calories: 99kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 7mg, Potassium: 64mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 22g, Vitamin A: 26IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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4.34 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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  1. Priscilla says:

    Good morning. I am about to make this and don’t have cinnamon sticks. Can I substitute cinnamon powder? If so, how much??

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi! I’ve only tested as written, but perhaps start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more once you’ve tasted it if needed.

  2. Beth says:

    5 stars
    This was delicious and easy. I used orange juice and added some orange zest right at the end – yum! I’ll be making it again.

    1. Natasha says:

      Wonderful! Glad you liked it, Beth! 😀

  3. Ck says:

    3 stars
    This was our first try at real cranberry sauce. Hate to say this is the 1st recipe that’s not a 5 for us. Cinnamon and turkey just aren’t meant to be. We threw out first batch and now making second batch without cinnamon stick. Other than that recipe good thickens nicely in frig.