Homemade orange cranberry sauce is a must have side for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners in our house.
This is a classic recipe, with fresh cranberries cooked with orange juice, orange zest and brown sugar for a tangy, sweet and delicious accompaniment to any turkey dinner.
And the good news is that this sauce can be made ahead of time. For me this Thanksgiving sauce is best served cold.
Plus it can be made with fresh cranberries or frozen cranberries, whichever is easiest for you. You may wonder if you can substitute dried cranberries for fresh in this recipe. I do not advise this substitution. It’s best to stick with fresh or frozen berries for this recipe.
Do you like cranberry sauce? I can’t get enough of it. That’s probably because I grew up eating all kinds of savory relishes and sandwich spreads, which are very popular in Ireland.
I like to make a big batch of cranberry sauce at Christmas and Thanksgiving. That way there’s always plenty left over for turkey sandwiches and salad cold plates.
Plus cranberry sauce is perfect served with my turkey and ham rissoles, my go to recipe for using up holiday dinner leftovers.
I know that cranberries are an acquired taste for many. They’re ever so tart and need plenty of sugar to balance out their tangy acidity. Brown sugar and orange juice are my sweeteners of choice for homemade cranberry sauce.
Orange Flavored Cranberry Sauce
Homemade cranberry sauce is always better than store bought varieties. It’s not complicated at all, and only requires a few ingredients.
It really is a cinch to make. I love adding orange zest and juice to make my cranberry sauce extra special for holiday dinners.
For me it’s an essential part of all the trimmings for a turkey dinner, and belongs with all the other classic holiday side dishes we love.
If you have leftover cranberry sauce, then mix it with a little mayonnaise. It’s scrumptious when spread on turkey sandwiches.
Cranberries in Ireland
Cranberries are native to North America and have been introduced to Ireland in recent years. They have become the quintessential Christmas fruit in modern Ireland.
They thrive in boggy ground and wetlands, which are plentiful in Ireland. The peat bogs of Ireland's midlands are perfect for cranberry growing, but there are a limited number of specialist growers found in the Emerald Isle. Most of Ireland’s cranberries are imported from North America.
In years gone by onion jam or chutneys and relishes would have been served instead of cranberry sauce for Christmas dinner in Ireland.
Ever since my introduction to this taste of America in Elmira, New York way back in 1988, I have been enjoying cranberry sauce with my turkey ever since.
That year I also tasted green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and sweet potato pie for the very first time. I was introduced to pecan pie for Thanksgiving when I moved to Kentucky.
I was so relieved to learn that my newfound favorite Thanksgiving side has become ever so popular in Ireland as a side dish for Christmas dinner. You just can’t beat turkey and cranberry sauce in my book.
Here is my tried and trusted Cranberry Orange Sauce recipe which is a big hit in our house every year. I can’t call this Irish style cranberry sauce, because technically there is no such thing. Instead we’ll call it Irish American Mom style cranberry sauce.
Now, I know some of you love the cranberry jelly that comes in a can. I like cranberries so much I have been known to open a can or two of this claret red jelly in my time.
However, once you taste real cranberry sauce, that isn’t totally whizzed smooth, and retains a little texture, I don’t think you’ll ever resort to opening a can again.
For me, a Thanksgiving menu should always include some combination of the following - turkey, thyme and onion stuffing, turkey gravy made with the giblets, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cider glazed carrots, maple glazed brussels sprouts, cauliflower cheese and of course cranberry sauce.
I hope you'll like this addition to my Thanksgiving recipes.
Ingredients for Cranberry Sauce
The ingredient list is very simple. Here's what you'll need. Check out the recipe card at the end of the post for the exact US and Metric quantities required.
- brown sugar
- orange juice
- fresh or frozen cranberries
- grated zest of 1 orange
If you find that your cranberries are very tart and need extra sugar feel free to add as much as your taste buds need.
Another option for adding extra sweetness is to add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup. It compliments the brown sugar and orange flavors beautifully in this sauce.
I don’t use any cinnamon sticks in my cranberry sauce recipe. If you like that extra little spiciness, toss in a cinnamon stick as your cranberry sauce simmers.
I don’t bother seasoning my cranberry sauce with salt and pepper.
Directions for Orange Cranberry Sauce
Add the sugar and orange juice to a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until it reaches a simmering point.
This sweet sticky reduction helps decrease the bitterness of the cranberries.
Use a wooden spoon to stir in the cranberries and orange zest. Bring back to boiling point.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes.
I love to watch the berries bursting as they bubble in the pot. Do not boil the sauce vigorously. A slow simmer is all that you need.
Turn off the heat and leave to cool. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
You can mash the sauce with a potato masher if you prefer a smoother cranberry sauce.
If you like totally smooth sauce then whiz it in a blender after it has cooled.
I leave the texture as is. I simply stir it around with a wooden spoon to break down the berries slightly.
For me, textured cranberry sauce is the way to go. I serve this sauce at room temperature, but you can serve it warm if you prefer.
How to Store Cranberry Sauce
Store in an airtight mason jar in the fridge for up to one week.
You can even freeze any leftover cranberry sauce.
The important thing for storing homemade cranberry sauce is to make sure it is completely cooled first. Wrap it well in a freezer bag or an airtight freezer proof container.
Keeping it free from air in the freezer is key to it surviving there for up to three months.
Here's the printable recipe if you would like to add this cranberry sauce to your kitchen files.
Orange Cranberry Sauce
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup orange juice
- 10 ounces cranberries frozen or fresh
- 1 tablespoon orange zest zest of one large orange
- Add the sugar and orange juice to a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until it reaches simmering point.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir in the cranberries and orange zest. Bring back to boiling point.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for8 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to cool. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
Happy holiday cooking from my Irish kitchen to yours.
- Spiced Red Cabbage
- White Chocolate Peppermint Truffles
- Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Christmas Cookies
- Chocolate Dipped Holiday Strawberries
- Mixed Spice - A Traditional Festive Baking Ingredient in Ireland
- Perfect Mini Cheesecakes For Any Party
- Christmas Pinwheel Sandwiches For The Festive Season
- Christmas Chocolate Yule Log
- Homemade Mincemeat
- Cauliflower Cheese
- Cider Glazed Carrots
- How To Light A Christmas Pudding