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Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Orange zest and freshly squeezed orange juice brighten up the traditional holiday cranberry side dish in this cranberry orange sauce.
white bowl filled with fresh cranberry orange sauce

Why this recipe works:

Cranberry sauce with orange juice is a twist on the traditional homemade cranberry sauce. Fresh orange juice and orange zest brighten this sauce and make it a wonderful side dish for the holidays.

In an attempt to cut back on the stress on the day of Thanksgiving, make a few items ahead of time and feel good that you’ve checked something off your endless to-do list. Cranberry orange sauce can be made a week ahead of Turkey Day then refrigerated until Thursday’s meal.

This recipe doesn’t differ much from the standard cranberry sauce recipe listed on the back of the Ocean Spray bag of fresh cranberries but the addition of orange zest and juice elevates the sauce for a special occasion.

Double the recipe if you have a crowd and hope that you have some sauce leftover because this cranberry sauce is fantastic on a turkey sandwich!


ingredients for cranberry sauce including cranberries, sugar, water, and oranges
  • Fresh Cranberries are the key to this recipe. They are bright and tart. You’ll find them in groceries stores year round but especially October through December for the holidays.
  • Granulated sugar cuts into the tartness of the berries and sweetens this sauce right up. Make sure to completely dissolve the sugar in the water and juice so that you have a smooth sauce.
  • Oranges are the addition here that pair perfectly with cranberries. Use both the zest and the juice of two fresh oranges. Navel oranges work well as would many other types of oranges.

How to make this recipe

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  1. Zest the oranges first. I like to use a citrus zester which is a kind of microplane. You can find a citrus tool on Amazon. (affiliate link) You’ll need about two tablespoons of zest.
  2. Now slice the oranges and juice them. I find that two oranges produce about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice. A handheld orange squeezer is a good tool to have in your kitchen.
  3. In a large saucepan combine the water, orange juice, orange zest, and sugar. Hold off on adding the cranberries for a few minutes. You first want to dissolve the sugar by bringing this mixture to a boil.
  4. Next, add the fresh cranberries.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium, stirring constantly. You’ll find that the berries may pop as they heat up. Wear cooking mitts and keep your arms covered so that you are not burned by the exploding berries.
  6. Let the cranberry orange sauce cool then refrigerate.

Tips and tricks for success

Follow this advice for the best cranberry sauce recipe!

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, make this for a crowd with no trouble. Double the recipe and use a deep saucepan to give the berries plenty of room to bubble up as they cook.

Can I add alcohol to cranberry sauce?

Yes, my mother-in-law adds port wine which is a fortified wine to her cranberry sauce and it is delicious! Another suggestion is to add an orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Cointreau. A generous tablespoon would be a lovely addition.

How do I store cranberry orange sauce?

Store this sauce in the refrigerator.

How long does cranberry sauce last?

This sauce will last 10 to 14 days in the refrigerator. Store it in an air-tight container. You can serve it chilled or let it warm up to room temperature before enjoying.

Can I freeze cranberry sauce with orange?

Yes, this sauce freezes well. Seal in an air-tight container and put in the freezer for 3 to 6 months.

overhead view of bowl of cranberry sauce with fresh berries and squeezed oranges

If you love cranberry recipes, you’ll also enjoy this creamy cranberry butter, pistachio cranberry rugelach, and these dried cranberry and white chocolate cookies!

Yield: 2 cups

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

white bowl of cranberry sauce with oranges and silver spoon

A beautiful orange and cranberry sauce would make a great addition on your Thanksgiving table!

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


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • The Juice and Zest from 2 oranges (approx 1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh orange juice)
  • 12 ounce (1 package) of fresh cranberries


  1. Zest the oranges and set aside the zest.
  2. Juice the oranges and add the orange juice, orange zest, water and sugar to a saucepan. Use a medium to large saucepan. The sauce will bubble up as it boil and could easily overflow if you use a small pot. 
  3. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes. It will come to a boil then reduce it to a simmer as you stir, making sure the sugar dissolves.
  4. Add the cranberries and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Let the cranberry sauce cool to room temperature before you refrigerate it. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • Store in the refrigerator for 10-14 days
  • Freeze for 3-6 months
  • Feel free to add a generous tablespoon of orange liqueur or port wine if you'd like to spike this sauce
  • Use fresh cranberries when available. If not, frozen cranberries are fine too.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 tablespoon

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 51Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 6mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 2gSugar: 10gProtein: 0g

This data is provided by Nutritionix and is an estimate only.

Did you make this recipe?

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Please note that this post was originally shared in November, 2012, and more recently updated with new photos and text in November, 2020.

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)

Saturday 17th of November 2012

I agree about the last minute crunch panic. We're having Thanksgiving tomorrow for our family due to some travel plans, and I'm laying in bed reading food blogs instead of making final plans. I'm officially feeling anxious. :) Happy Thanksgiving Holly.

Holly @

Saturday 17th of November 2012

I am sure your meal will be lovely! And then you will be able to relax this whole week and hopefully enjoy the long weekend coming up. Happy Thanksgiving!

Barbara | Creative Culinary

Friday 16th of November 2012

I just bought a big bag of cranberries from Costco yesterday for my sauce. You won't be surprised right when I tell you there is wine in it right?

Homemade is so easy and so good; this year we are simplifying and good for the was most certainly not cut from the list!

Sorry you can't make it tomorrow; we'll miss you.

Mrs. Herb

Friday 16th of November 2012

Looks yummy! Cranberry and orange is a great combination, so I bet this is fabulous!

Holly @

Friday 16th of November 2012

Thanks! I like how the orange zest brightens up the dish and reminds me how much better homemade cranberry sauce is compared to the store-bought version. Happy Thanksgiving!

Karen Harris

Friday 16th of November 2012

I'll be digging the cranberries out of the freezer any day now to start this process. One of the wonders of Thanksgiving. I hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving Holly!

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