Sweet with maple and cinnamon spice and tangy with juicy orange, this Easy Cranberry Sauce will have you hooked from the first bite! It’s so quick and easy to make, you will never go back to the gelatinous canned stuff again!
As the saying goes, “The sauce makes the meal!” No Thanksgiving menu is complete without some cranberries and this is the BEST Easy Cranberry Sauce there is!
So much flavor with just a handful of ingredients. I think it’s pretty perfect as is, but it can be easily adapted to your own tastes. Want sweeter? More tart? More texture? Smoother? No problem…have it your way!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Cranberries ~ Obviously, you need cranberries for a cranberry sauce. You can use fresh or frozen. Do not use dried.
I tend to overbuy the fresh ones when they finally hit the stores so I can freeze them and use them all year.
Pear ~ I love the added texture and sweet flavor that bites of pear bring.
Apples would be a great substitute if you prefer. I suggest using a sweet apple, like a honeycrisp, fuji, or gala to contrast the tart flavor of the cranberries. Pineapple would also be a great choice.
You could leave this out totally if you want a pure cranberry sauce. And if you prefer a smoother sauce, you could even go one step further and purée it a bit using an immersion blender.
Sweetener ~ I like the flavor of pure maple syrup. It works really well with the orange and cinnamon.
You could use coconut sugar or organic cane sugar instead. If using granulated sugar, be sure to cook long enough so all the sugar gets dissolved. Cane sugar tends to be sweeter, so you may need to use less. Taste and adjust to your liking.
Spices ~ I use cinnamon and ginger in this Easy Cranberry Sauce. You can use just one or the other. Nutmeg or cardamom would also be delicious.
You could also add in some fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme for a unique twist.
Add-ins ~ If you like lots of texture in your sauce, feel free to add in a handful of chopped nuts, like walnuts or pecans.
How to make the recipe
This vegan cranberry sauce with orange is the real deal and it couldn’t be easier. It takes just about 20 minutes and can easily be double or tripled to feed a crowd.
(1) Zest the orange.
(2) Juice the orange right into the pot over the cranberries.
(3) Add the water, orange zest, cinnamon and ginger to the pot.
(4) Cook the sauce gently over medium heat until the sauce starts to bubble. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue cooking until the cranberries start to burst, about 15 minutes.
(5) Add the diced pears.
(6) Stir well to incorporate the pears and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so to warm through.
Serve chilled or room temperature.
Let the sauce cool completely before transferring to an air-tight container. It will keep in the fridge for at least a week.
You can store it longer in the freezer for about 3 months.
Pro tips for success
Use fresh or frozen cranberries. Do not used dried cranberries – they will not work!
Use fresh ground spices! Although dried spices will last indefinitely, they do lose their flavor. If yours have been hanging out in the pantry for more than 6 months, it’s time to restock!
Use fresh orange juice! Store-bought bottled juice just isn’t the same…even if it’s 100% juice. Squeeze your own orange right into the pot. It only takes a second!
Cook the sauce long enough for most of the cranberries to burst and for it to start to thicken. However, do not overcook! Cooking for too long could cause the sugars to caramelize and burn, leaving you with an off-putting bitter taste. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
Taste and adjust seasonings. If you like a sweeter sauce, add a tablespoon or two more of maple syrup. Also, try adding a pinch of salt to bring out the sweetness of the other ingredients.
Double or triple the recipe easily to feed a crowd.
This easy cranberry sauce can be made ahead of time – up to a week! That will give you more time to make these other amazing Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes!
In the United States, it’s almost exclusively eaten with Thanksgiving dinner, though you’ll sometimes find it on Christmas menus, as well.
It’s typically used as a glaze or relish for meats and stuffing. But it can also be used as a jam on toast or a condiment for sandwiches, dolloped into oatmeal or yogurt, or warmed and drizzled over ice cream and desserts.
My daughter loves it all by itself in a bowl with a spoon!
Cranberries are low in fat and sodium and high in fiber, many vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants. [source]
However, cranberry sauce can be high in sugar. I like to make mine with unrefined pure maple syrup as it has more redeeming qualities than regular white sugar.
Cranberries are tart by nature. To contrast this, sweetener is added to the sauce.
If you find it still too bitter for your tastes, try adding a tiny pinch of salt, which actually brings out the sweetness of the other ingredients.
Of course, you can always add a bit more maple syrup or sugar, as needed.
Yes! Cooking for too long could cause the sugars to burn and cause a bitter flavor. Cook it gently until most of the cranberries have burst and the sauce is starting to thicken. If you want, you can mash the berries that have yet to burst with a potato masher or wooden spoon. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
You sure can! Let the sauce cool completely before transferring it to the freezer in an air-tight container or plastic freezer bag. Stored properly, it should keep well for about 3 months.
More vegan cranberry recipes
- Cranberry Almond Muffins
- Cranberry Smoothie
- Cranberry Oatmeal
- Creamy Cranberry Salsa Dip
- Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Easy Cranberry Sauce
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries rinsed and drained (about 3.5 cups)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup or to taste
- zest of ½ navel orange
- juice of ½ navel orange (2 to 3 tablespoons) or to taste
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 pear peeled, cored and diced
- Add all ingredients, except the pear, to a 2 quart sauce pot and simmer on the stove, stirring occasionally so the sauce doesn't stick, until cranberries start to burst and the mixture gets saucy, about 15 minutes.
- Add the diced pear and continue to cook about 5 minutes more.
- Let cool before serving. Can be served room temperature or chilled.