This post featuring my Thanksgiving cranberry sauce recipe contains affiliate links.
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a cranberry sauce recipe now would it? I don’t know why cranberries have forged their place in American history as a must-serve Thanksgiving side dish, but alas, I am not one to argue with this tradition because cranberry sauce tastes so delicious!
Growing up I enjoyed jellied cranberry sauce from a can. You’d have to open the can from both ends to squish out the congealed cylinder of cranberry sauce. It would make a farting sound as the jellied cranberry shimmied out of the can. My parents would then elegantly cut the jellied log into slices and serve on a plate. Ah, the memories!
My parents, to this day, refuse to eat cranberry sauce any other way. They still bring their own can and just you wait and see, they won’t touch the cranberry sauce I made – no way!
I, too, like canned jellied cranberry sauce, but when you look at the ingredient list, you might not like it much anymore. The ingredient list includes cranberries, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup and water. That’s a whole lot of corn syrup, and we all know corn syrup is a cheap, genetically modified ingredient. So. Not. Worth. It.
I do not want to put a damper on your Thanksgiving holiday, so by all means enjoy the jellied cranberry sauce from a can (I might even have a slice, it’s only one day, right?), but how much better for you and how much tastier is it when someone takes the time to make fresh, homemade cranberry sauce. I love when I see the beautiful cranberries peeking out. I also love to smell the citrusy flavors dancing in my home. Yummy!
My sister-in-law’s mother-in-law, Carole, usually makes the cranberry sauce, but she’s unable to do it this year, so the task has fallen to me. I’m so happy to oblige as it gives me an excuse to get this recipe up on the blog.
As a bonus, it’s a naturally gluten-free recipe, and I always appreciate not having to experiment and come up with adaptations to make a recipe work. This recipe is exactly as Carole makes it with not substitutions.
I love Carole’s recipe – it contains more than just cranberries and sugar. It also includes fresh apples, lemon and orange zest, freshly squeezed orange juice and cinnamon. Yum!
How to Make Homemade Cranberry Sauce
This is one of the simplest homemade Thanksgiving cranberry sauce recipes you’ll ever make. All you have to do is throw the following ingredients into a large pot:
- Diced apples
- Lemon zest
- Orange zest
- Freshly squeezed orange juice
- Cinnamon sticks
Then, you simple bring the mixture to a boil and stir, stir, stir!
Once the cranberries start popping like crazy and the mixture looks to be the consistency of homemade cranberry sauce, you remove it from the heat and allow it plenty of time to cool.
This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is the ultimate make-ahead dish. Double it to feed a crowd, although keep in mind most people only take a little cranberry sauce. If you have leftovers, plan to make turkey burgers topped with cranberry sauce over the weekend.
And while you’re cooking in the kitchen, don’t forget the gluten-free pumpkin pie or gluten-free stuffing! (I am cheating this year and making gluten-free stuffing from a box – thanks to Aleia’s gluten-free savory stuffing mix!).
Skipped the jelly log this year (which is typically made with high-fructose corn syrup) and opt for a healthier and more tasty option. This cranberry sauce is my friend, Carole's, recipe and we've enjoyed it year after year after year!
- 1 lb fresh cranberries (frozen okay too), washed
- 2 diced apples (peeled and cored)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 zest of orange
- 1 zest of lemon
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
Add all ingredients into a large saucepan.
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often until sugar dissolves, cranberry skins begin popping and liquid cooks down.
Remove from heat and chill thoroughly, at least one hour but preferably overnight.
Remove cinnamon stick before serving.