Very Simple Cranberry Sauce

by kajohu

A simple cranberry sauce is the perfect complement to your holiday turkey dinner.

To me, a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey dinner isn't complete without cranberry sauce as a side dish. This tangy deep-red sauce cleanses the palate in between eating other richer, heavier foods, and it stimulates the appetite.

This cranberry sauce recipe is very easy to make and uses only cranberries, sugar, and water. The sauce can also be dressed up with additional ingredients such as orange juice, orange zest, apple pieces, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices, although I personally prefer to keep it very simple.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce is Simple and Tasty

In my opinion, a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey dinner isn't complete without a tangy, deep red cranberry side dish such as a sauce or relish.  It is an excellent complement to the other heavier and richer foods that are often served at our holiday dinners.

When I was growing up, our Thanksgiving meals included the canned, jellied version of cranberry sauce.  It would "shloop" out of the can, and we'd slice it and put it on a plate.  It tasted fine.  

But after I got married and started doing my own grocery shopping and cooking, I found the ubiquitous bags of fresh cranberries in the produce section during the holiday season.  I looked at the recipe for cranberry sauce that was printed on the bags, and realized that it was very simple and quick to make.  All it requires is boiling cranberries in sugar and water.   I've made it every year since then (or one of my sons would make it).

During the last few years, the bags of cranberries that I buy have a different recipe printed on them, that of a non-cook cranberry-orange relish, but I still prefer the cooked sauce.

Simple Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Simple Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Delicious and easy to make

Prep time 5 min  -  Total time 20 min
Ingredients for 12 servings
1 12 oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries (about 4 cups)  • 1 cup water  • 1 cup white suger

Rinse cranberries and pick out stems and damaged, bruised berries.

Add cranberries, sugar, and water to a medium saucepan.

Bring to boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until most of the cranberries have popped. The mixture will look frothy.

Remove from heat and transfer to serving container. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Recipe  0.0/5 Stars (0 Votes)
Cooking cranberry sauce
Cooking cranberry sauce
My own photo

Adding Other Ingredients

If you want to jazz up your cranberry sauce

The recipe above gives the most basic version of cranberry sauce.   This is still my favorite, and I don't make it any other way. I think there's something very pleasing about "keeping it simple", especially when so many other dishes that I serve at Thanksgiving take much more time to prepare and cook.

But you may prefer to dress up your cranberry sauce and make it into a fancier dish.  If that's the case, consider trying one or two of these ideas:

  • Replace 1/2 of the water with orange juice or apple juice
  • Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans or slivered almonds
  • Add 1 tbsp orange zest
  • Add 1/8 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or allspice
  • Add a chopped apple to the boiling mixture
  • Add 1/2 cup raisins

If you're concerned about the sugar content, try reducing to 2/3 cup.  Some people add a little Stevia and / or brown rice sugar to offset the white sugar.   If you add juice, apples, or raisins to your recipe, you can reduce the white sugar content even more.

A Good Palate Cleanser

One reason that I like cranberry sauce is that I love sweet and tangy foods in general.  But another reason is that it is refreshing to take a bite or two of this bright and zesty sauce after eating a few mouthfuls of other traditional Thanksgiving foods, many of which are heavy or rich or strong tasting, such as turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, or squash.  

I consider cranberry sauce to be a palate cleanser, in that it allows me to enjoy the flavors of the other dishes more fully.  It feels like it cuts through the heaviness of the other foods and wakes up my taste buds.

It's also pleasing to the eye, with it's rich, deep red color, complementing the other food colors.

Do You Like Cranberry Sauce?

You can expand on your answer in the comment section at the end

Cranberries are Strong Antioxidants

Cranberries are healthy for you

Just in case you need more reasons to eat cranberry sauce, consider that cranberries have some great health benefits.   They are rich in Vitamin C, high in fiber, and they have more antioxidant capacity than almost any other fruit or vegetable, except for blueberries, which rank higher.

Other health benefits from cranberries include:

  • Keeping the urinary tract healthy
  • Keeping the heart healthy
  • Add protection against some cancers including breast and prostate cancer
  • Reduce plaque and cavity producing bacteria in your mouth
  • Protecting eyes against cataracts and macular degeneration
Updated: 11/26/2014, kajohu
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Do You Make Your Own Cranberry Sauce?

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kajohu on 09/14/2017

I'm glad you like the recipe, kimbesa! Yes, my thoughts are starting to run more toward cool weather foods now too.

kimbesa on 09/14/2017

Getting ready for the upcoming holiday season, and cranberry is at the top of my list. I'm not sure what is driving this craving. Maybe just the days getting shorter and the weather getting cooler. I'll have some well before Thanksgiving. Thanks for the easy recipe!

kajohu on 11/29/2014

Always-Writing, it's great that your husband makes cranberry sauce! I'm glad people enjoyed it. I think in this case, simple is best :-)

Always-Writing on 11/28/2014

I do not, but my husband does! He made it for our Thanksgiving dinner that we ate yesterday, and it was a hit. Even people who usually detest canned cranberry sauce love his. All he uses, is what you have listed - cranberries, sugar, and water. How simple could a recipe be?

kajohu on 11/28/2014

Cranberry is a great addition to fruit punch -- I like it too. Cranberries are grown in North America and parts of Europe, so I'm guessing if you do find them where you live, they're rather expensive. Thanks for your comment!

WriterArtist on 11/27/2014

I love cranberry in fruit punch, it has a sharp tangy taste that is a bit lemony and sour. The sauce that you describe looks very easy to make, if only I could find cranberries here. I think the stuff what we get here is imported and cannot be produced locally.

kajohu on 11/26/2014

I just made mine today too, ologsinquito. It is very easy, isn't it ? Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

ologsinquito on 11/26/2014

I just made some cranberry sauce tonight. It's incredibly easy to make.

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