Homemade Cranberry Sauce (Small Batch)
Whether you’re making Thanksgiving for two or don’t want leftovers, this small batch Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe made with fresh orange juice and zest will brighten your dinner table.
It’s almost Thanksgiving! Do you serve fresh cranberry sauce with your stuffed turkey breast or stuffed Cornish hen?
I’m not talking about the can-shaped jelly nobody wants to touch.
I’m talking about this recipe for Homemade Cranberry Sauce with fresh cranberries and fresh orange juice cooked down into a small batch sauce 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, this easy cranberry sauce adds a nice touch of sweetness to a savory meal. The acidity cuts through all the fat from the crispy turkey skin, cheesy stove top scalloped potatoes, and green bean casserole without mushroom soup.
What’s special about my small batch cranberry sauce is it only makes 2-4 servings.
That’s ideal if you’re making Thanksgiving dinner for two or Christmas dinner for two.
Or maybe only a few people enjoy fresh cranberry sauce. Or if you’re the only one who eats it, consider it single serving cranberry sauce.
My recipe for cranberry sauce is 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 your small batch cranberry sauce 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?
Cooking With Fresh Cranberries
Can we talk about how I’ve never had fresh cranberries before this cranberry sauce recipe? 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 cranberry 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.
Ingredients For Fresh Cranberry Sauce
To make small batch cranberry sauce, the ingredients are fresh cranberries, sugar, fresh oranges, cinnamon, and a big pinch of salt.
For the orange juice, I highly recommend buying oranges then squeezing fresh juice from them. It tastes so much fresher.
However, if you want to use bottled orange juice, make sure it’s either unsweetened or adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe.
How To Make Cranberry Sauce
Making homemade cranberry sauce with orange juice is as easy as boiling water!
Add your cranberries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon, and salt to a large saucepan then bring to a boil.
Once boiling, cook until the fresh cranberries break down into a sauce, roughly 10 minutes for a small batch.
Seriously so easy!
How long does homemade cranberry sauce last?
The best part about making fresh cranberry sauce from scratch is you can make it ahead of time! Small batch cranberry sauce lasts up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
Can you freeze homemade cranberry sauce?
Yes, you can freeze fresh cranberry sauce! Transfer your leftovers to an airtight container then freeze for up to 2 months.
When ready to serve, defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
What To Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce
In addition to Thanksgiving dinner, cranberry sauce pairs well with a variety of cheeses, including Brie, Gouda, and cream cheese.
Make a grilled cheese using Gouda. Make my cranberry baked Brie for snacking on a charcuterie board for two. Or simply slather it on top of crackers with cream cheese.
How To Freeze Fresh Cranberries
This small batch cranberry sauce won’t use a whole bag, so you’ll have leftover fresh cranberries.
Use them up to make Cranberry Apple Crisp or Cranberry Sangria, or Cranberry Goat Cheese Appetizer by Foxes Love Lemons.
However, you can also freeze fresh cranberries for future use.
Lay them out in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet and freeze for about an hour or until firm. This helps keep the cranberries from freezing together in one giant clump.
Transfer and seal them in a freezer bag for up to 1 year.
More Thanksgiving For Two Recipes
Now that you have your easy cranberry sauce, are you ready for the rest of your Thanksgiving dinner? If you’re still planning, add one of these Thanksgiving recipes to your menu
Homemade Cranberry Sauce (Small Batch)
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.
- 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. Store up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
- 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.
- In addition to your Thanksgiving Dinner For Two, serve your cranberry sauce on top of some Cranberry Baked Brie.
- Use up leftover fresh cranberries with Cranberry Apple Crisp and Cranberry Sangria.
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I AM MAKING THIS FOR THANKSGIVING, IT LOOKS DELISH! I WILL TELL YOU WHAT WE THOUGHT OF IT, I LOVE SMALL BATCH RECIPES!
Hope you enjoy!
I have a wonderful recipe from a very old cook book that calls for orange zest, a cinnamon stick and apples. Everyone loves it . Even those who thought they did not like cranberries. Similar to your recipe but with apples in it.
Oh are the apples cooked in a similar matter so it’s like cooked apples (I guess an apple “jam” if you will)? Or is it more like applesauce?
I have tried cranberries. Can I use those in the recipe?
Sorry it’s a typing error. I meant to say I have dried cranberries, can I use those in making this recipe of cranberry sauce.
For this particular recipe, it needs to be fresh cranberries because the fruit contains pectin that thickens the sauce. However, I do know you can if you rehydrate them with water and add some cornstarch. Here’s a promising recipe. Please note I haven’t tried this one myself: http://www.chowhound.com/post/cranberry-sauce-dried-cranberries-667537?commentId=6095050
How long does it last once made and how do you store (I assume refrigerate)
Definitely up to 1 week in the refrigerator, possibly 2 weeks if you check it before serving.
This was fantastic! Just made it, and it is still warm on my counter. I used zest and juice from two clementines as that was all that I had on hand. A couple shakes of salt and cinnamon. Wonderful! Tasted like and had the texture of jam. So excited to serve it tomorrow for Thanksgiving! Thank you!
Clementines work too! Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy!
This looks so fantastic thank you for sharing! This will make a great gift as well.
Oh great idea!
I’ll be making this one today to share for Thanksgiving. Love the small batch!
Enjoy! One less thing you have to do on Thanksgiving Day :D
Our kids are all grown & gone so it’s just my husband & I at home for Thanksgiving. Not loving the canned cranberry, I always look for recipes to replace the delicious treat I only get once a year. The problem is the recipes typically serve small armies. This one is very well suited for one person, maybe 1 1/2. I would definitely double this recipe if you intend to feed two people. My husband doesn’t like cranberry sauce of any kind so this was perfect for me.
I didn’t have oranges on hand but I have Meyer lemons so I used them. I zested 1 1/2 lemons & juiced both. Not quite a full 1/2 cup but it was very close. I used dark brown sugar over white because the added sweetness from the molasses makes the sauce very tasty & it sets up really well. This is an incredibly easy recipe for 1-2 people.
Thank you so much for sharing with our family. From ours to yours, Happy Thanksgiving, 2018 <3
Thank you for your feedback! I think the serving size is heavily dependent on how much each person eats and what else you’re serving with dinner. There’s no way I could eat the whole amount myself as 1 serving! But it sounds like you love cranberry sauce, which is good feedback for others who are deciding to make this. I like your use of brown sugar. I’ll have to try that myself next time! Happy Thanksgiving!
AWESOME! I DIDN’T CHANGE A THING AND IT WAS A FAMILY HIT. THE BEST I’VE MADE TO DAT AND I;M OLD! LOL!
Happy to hear you enjoyed it, Karen!
Love how quick and easy this cranberry sauce is! The small batch serving is perfect!
Glad you enjoyed it!
I love both the orange juice and orange zest in this recipe! Cranberry sauce is an all-time holiday favorite. I look forward to serving it for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Thanks! The acidity from the orange really brightens up the cranberry sauce.
Delicious. I added nutmeg, cardamom and ginger (we like it a little spicy!) and it turned out great. Going to try my next batch with some jalapenos and minus the spices. YUM.
Love the addition of spices! I think the jalapenos will be a nice savory balance to the sweet cranberry sauce. I have a similar recipe for raspberry jalapeno jam and it’s wonderful served over a creamy cheese like brie or cream cheese.
So glad I found this small batch recipe. Truth be told, I don’t really like cranberry sauce that much. I only really need about 2 spoonfuls and I’m good until next thanksgiving. But I’m also going to use this in these tasty Brie and cranberry bites that I make. My sauce was finished in 15 minutes, something else that makes this recipe perfect.
Thank you so much for the small batch recipe. I did make a couple of changes. I used a quarter cup of white sugar and a quarter cup of brown sugar all the zest of one orange & all the juice from the same orange. It came out amazing. The large batches always ended up in the garbage because we never ate that much. This amount was perfect. I also used an emulsion blender as I don’t really like the chunkiness. Best cranberry sauce ever. Perfect amount.
The blender is a great idea for a smoother sauce! Glad you enjoyed it.