Making your own cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly is literally as easy as boiling water.
Cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly is a relish-style condiment made out of cranberries, sweetener, and water. Variations can include orange zest and warm spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg. It is traditionally served as a Thanksgiving dinner side dish.
Each of the following tried and true recipes can be halved if you prefer a smaller batch, or doubled if you have a large family.
How to Make Your Own Cranberry Sauce
Combine two cups each of sugar and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bringing it to a rolling boil.
Add the cranberries and return to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat down to a low boil.
Cook for five minutes to make a rich, thick cranberry sauce, or continue boiling for 10 minutes, lightly mashing the berries with a potato masher as they cook if you’d prefer to make cranberry jelly.
If making jellied cranberry sauce, strain the mixture through a wire mesh sieve, pressing the cranberries to express the pulp. Otherwise, cool the sauce for ten minutes in the pan, then transfer to a serving dish. Cool completely before refrigerating.
Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe
This simple stove-top version takes less than ten minutes to prepare.
4 cups cranberries
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water, bringing it to a boil over medium heat.
Boil for 5 minutes.
Add the fresh cranberries and boil without stirring until the berries pop; (approx 5 minutes). Remove from heat, pour into a serving dish, cool and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce
1 lb cranberries
1/2 tsp orange zest grated
1/3 cup orange juice or water
pinch of cinnamon
1 cup sugar
Combine cranberries, orange zest, cinnamon, and orange juice (or water) in the instant pot, stir.
Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top of all ingredients, but do not stir.
Close the lid of the instant pot and set valve to sealing.
Set the instant pot to “Manual” at high pressure for 2 minutes, release the pressure naturally for 5 minutes.
Release remaining pressure manually in short bursts, else the sauce can splatter out along with the steam.
Open the lid of the instant pot and stir well.
If you want the sauce to be sweeter, you can add additional sugar (1 tablespoon at a time).
Transfer the sauce into a serving dish, cool completely, then refrigerate until serving time.
Appetizer idea: Place a block of cream cheese on a plate, spoon cranberry sauce liberally over the top and serve it with butter crackers, wheat thins, etc. It’s delicious!
This recipe doubles well and the cooking time does not change.
Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce
4 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated or brown sugar, or your preferred sweetener (adding more/less to taste)
optional add-ins: a splash or bourbon or red wine, orange zest, a pinch of ground ginger, a pinch of cinnamon and cloves, some chopped walnuts, or a splash of vanilla extract
Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, stirring to combine and set on high for 3 hours or on low for about 8 hours. Transfer the sauce into a serving dish, cool completely, then refrigerate until serving time.
The sauce will be quite runny while it’s still hot, it will thicken once it cools and chills.
Cranberry Sauce vs Cranberry Jelly, What’s the Difference?
Cranberry sauce is not the same thing as cranberry jelly. The sauce version in more fluid, whilst the jelly version is more solid and will retain the shape of the container it is placed in.
Cranberries contain a high amount of natural pectin. The longer the berries are cooked, the more pectin is released. Pectin polymers bind together, which create structure and firmness. Therefore, jellied cranberry sauce can be made by simply increasing the cooking time of the recipe.
One pound of fresh cranberries is equal to four cups.
How to Make Jellied Cranberry Sauce
4 cups fresh Cranberries (1 pound)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup water
In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water, bringing it to a boil over medium heat. Add the cranberries and return the mixture to a full rolling boil.
Reduce heat and continue to boil for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat, place a wire mesh strainer over a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using the back of a metal spoon, mash the cranberries, until all of the pulp has been extracted.
Stir the contents of the bowl and then transfer the hot mixture into a serving dish, cool and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.