cranberry sauce

Make Ahead 10-Minute Cranberry Sauce

By Rachel Tiemeyer
November 5, 2020

Wow your guests at your next holiday meal with this deceptively simple Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce. The best part is that you can work ahead and freeze it, so you can spend more time with loved ones at your gathering.

Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce with orange zest and fresh cranberries

To be honest, I used to think cranberry sauce came from a can, and I wanted nothing to do with that gelatinous mound of goo. Yuck! Once I tasted homemade cranberry sauce many years later, though, I realized what an amazingly delicious, tangy-sweet side dish it is!

homemade cranberry sauce in a glass bowl with orange and rosemary as garnish

What’s in This Sauce?

When first making my own cranberry sauce, I learned that it is one of THE easiest and most beautiful holiday side dishes ever, producing “ooos and ahhhs” every year it shows up at the holiday table.

My recipe includes fresh or frozen cranberries, fresh orange juice and zest, honey, and several autumnal spices. You can even toss in a little bit of fresh, minced rosemary if you’d like, too. The smell is out of this world!

zesting orange over homemade cranberry sauce in a pot

My daughter, age 12 now, has been making this Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce for our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for many years now. Homemade cranberry sauce is THAT easy. It really only takes 10 minutes to come together!

girl making homemade cranberry sauce

Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

You can definitely freeze homemade cranberry sauce! In fact, we double the recipe at Thanksgiving and freeze half for Christmas!

To freeze your sauce, let it cool and then seal and freeze it in a BPA freezer bag, a freezer container with lid, or a mason jar (leave 1 inch of head room at the top).

When you’re ready to use it later, let the cranberry sauce thaw in the refrigerator or use one of these 3 safes ways to defrosting it. Warm it up over low heat on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.

homemade cranberry sauce in a glass bowl with fresh cranberries, orange, and rosemary as garnish

Cooking and freezing ahead is one of our top 10 tips for making a big holiday meal less stressful!

Main Dishes That Go with Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This cranberry sauce isn’t just for turkey. Serve it up alongside one of these main dishes, too.

Holiday Ham with Cranberry-Orange Glaze

spiral sliced ham on a serving dish with parsley and grapes

Pork Tenderloin with Seasoned Rub

pork tenderloin

From my family to yours, I hope you enjoy this beautiful, aromatic, and EASY side dish at your next holiday meal.

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cranberry sauce

Make Ahead 10-Minute Cranberry Sauce

  • Author: Rachel Tiemeyer
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups (6 servings) 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top or Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This cranberry sauce is made with all real food ingredients, comes together in just 10 minutes, and can be frozen ahead of time. So delicious!


Ingredients

  • 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and sorted
  • 1⁄2 cup honey
  • Zest of 1 medium orange (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg

Instructions

Make It Now

Stovetop Method: In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, honey, 1/2 cup water, orange zest and juice, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Instant Pot Method: Turn on the Sauté function. Combine the cranberries, honey, 1⁄2 cup water, orange zest and juice, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Freeze For Later

Let sauce cool completely. Seal and freeze in a freezer bag or freezer container with lid. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen

Thaw. Warm gently over low heat on the stove, in a crock pot, or in the microwave.


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