Whether you’re making Thanksgiving for two or don’t want a ton of leftovers, this small batch Homemade Cranberry Sauce made with fresh orange juice and zest will brighten your dinner table.
Two weeks until Thanksgiving! Do you serve cranberries with your turkey or Cornish hen? I’m not talking about the can-shaped jelly nobody wants to touch. I’m talking about Homemade Cranberry Sauce with fresh cranberries cooked down into a sauce with orange juice and zest for a nice pop of flavor. Actually I’m not sure why it’s called a sauce as it reminds me more of a jam. Names aside, it adds a nice touch of sweetness to a savory meal. What’s special about my recipe is it only makes a small batch of 2-4 servings. That’s ideal if you’re making Thanksgiving for two or if only a few people enjoy cranberry sauce.
It’s also incredibly easy to make. Boil everything in a saucepan until thick, which is about 10-15 minutes. That’s it. Done. You can make it while the bird is cooking. You can make it the day before and warm before serving. You can even make it on Monday and keep it in the fridge until Thursday. How’s that for planning ahead?
Can we talk about how I’ve never had fresh cranberries before this fall? My only experience with cranberries is from a can. I remember my parents opening a can of cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, and the sauce (“sauce”?) kept the shape of the can. I think I’ve had cranberry juice once or twice in my life but not enough to tell you what cranberry tastes like. Until now. I decided to eat a fresh one straight from the bag and let me warn you – don’t do that. They are extremely tart, much like rhubarb (never had raw rhubarb? Yea you don’t want to taste that one raw either). Although cranberries are very tart on their own, balancing them out with sweetness makes them much more enjoyable.
For the orange juice, I highly recommend buying oranges then squeezing fresh juice from them. However, if you want to use bottled orange juice, make sure it’s either unsweetened or adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe.
Since this homemade cranberry sauce recipe only makes a small batch, you can freeze the remaining cranberries. Lay them out in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet, freeze for about an hour or until firm, then transfer and seal them in a freezer bag. They’ll stay almost indefinitely frozen (or until they get freezer burned).
In addition to Thanksgiving dinner, cranberry sauce pairs well with a variety of creamy cheeses, including Brie, Gouda, and cream cheese. Make a grilled cheese using Gouda. Top it on some baked Brie. Slather it on top of crackers with cream cheese.
Yields 2-4 servings
15 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
25 minTotal Time
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, about 2-3 large oranges* (see Note)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- In a large saucepan, whisk together the cranberries, sugar, zest, juice, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, cook for 10-15 minutes or until cranberries have burst and sauce has thickened. Cool to room temperature before serving.
*For the orange juice, I highly recommend buying oranges then squeezing fresh juice from them. However, if you use bottled orange juice, make sure it’s either unsweetened or adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe.