Sink your spoon deep into this bowl of Cranberry Orange Sauce, because it’s time for some Thanksgiving straight talk life-advice.

recipe for cranberry sauce with oranges in a white bowl with spoon

I’m saying this because I care deeply about you and your holiday spread: Do not, I repeat, do not buy canned cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly. Cranberry sauce is the easiest Thanksgiving side dish to make from scratch, and the holiday meal you spend hours preparing deserves the real deal.

healthy cranberry orange sauce no sugar with orange and cinnamon in a white bowl with a spoon beside

To make today’s homemade cranberry sauce recipe, you simply dump all the ingredients into a saucepan, stir, and BOOM. Bright, blissful cranberry sauce that’s the perfect tart bite against juicy turkey, whiskey glazed sweet potatoes, and balsamic Brussels sprouts.

Cranberry Sauce with orange zest in a bowl with a spoon inside of it

Eradicating canned cranberry sauce is my meal mission this Thanksgiving. My stepdad makes the absolute best, juiciest Thanksgiving turkey. It’s a product of overnight brining, a secret rub, and what I suspect is a special turkey dance performed before the Thanksgiving gods, because how can it be this juicy?

Last year, he carved the beautiful bird…and then my family served it with canned cranberry sauce. Never again.

How to Make Cranberry Sauce from Scratch

I’m volunteering for cranberry sauce duty, and if you need something simple to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck, you should too!

Here’s what makes this easy, magical sauce so great:

  • Naturally-sweetened with honey (save the sugar for the pecan pie)
  • A touch of cinnamon and cloves for warmth
  • Orange juice and orange zest for a fresh, festive pop

I can’t wait to serve this homemade cranberry sauce with my step dad’s turkey—jeweled sauce for a golden bird.

Fresh cranberries, orange, honey, and cinnamon for making cranberry orange sauce

More Delicious Thanksgiving Recipes

Cranberry sauce with orange juice and cinnamon in a bowl with a spoon

Let this be the year of homemade cranberry sauce with honey and orange. Instead of the “plop” of the canned stuff, you’ll hear only a spoon clinking against the bottom of an empty serving bowl.

That’s beautiful Turkey Day music, my friends. I’m glad we had this talk.

Cranberry sauce with orange juice and cinnamon in a bowl with a spoon

Cranberry Orange Sauce

4.75 from 4 votes
A healthy cranberry orange sauce for Thanksgiving turkey that's naturally sweetened with honey and spiced with cinnamon. Ready in 20 minutes!

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins

Servings: 2 cups, approx.


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries thawed if frozen
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey plus 2 tablespoons (plus additional 1 to 2 tablespoons to taste)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt


  • Bring cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, water, cinnamon, cloves, and salt to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Continue cooking, stirring often, until the cranberries break down and the sauce thickens. Taste (careful, it will be hot!) and add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey as desired. If sauce becomes too thick, add a little extra water to reach the desired consistency. Let cool, then serve.


  • TO STORE: Store cranberry orange sauce in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. 
  • TO FREEZE: Homemade cranberry orange sauce may be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before serving.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm in the microwave or on the stovetop to the desired temperature. You may also serve leftover cranberry sauce at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator.


Serving: 1(of 8); about 1/4 cupCalories: 62kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gPotassium: 89mgFiber: 2gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 72IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. Hi Erin! Found your recipe via Pinterest and am going to attempt for Thanksgiving this year! I was wondering if you used whole or ground cloves? Also, would this be ok to make the day before? Thank you so much and can’t wait to try!

    1. Hi Rebekah! I’m so happy that you found this recipe and honored that it will be a part of your Thanksgiving. Use ground cloves, and you can absolutely make it the day before. Just store in the fridge. Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Erin! I made this recipe for Thanksgiving this year, and it was a hit. I had recipe requests, and family members who don’t even like cranberry sauce told me how much they enjoyed it. Thanks a million! I hope you’re having a fantastic trip in Thailand :)5 stars

  3. This recipe was great! Not going back to canned!! Highly recommend adding a little bit of sugar as mine was a little tart.4 stars

  4. This sauce couldn’t be easier to make. I don’t think I will ever go back to the slab of canned sauce everyone else sticks on the table. Tangy, tart, but semi-sweet, the citrus perks up the underlying tones of the cranberries. I fudged a little bit and used a 1/4 cup of dry red wine with the orange juice, just for the deliberate tannin addition.
    At this time of year, I stock up on bags of fresh cranberries, mix up a big batch and freeze meal-sized batches I can use throughout the year. The berries manage freezing very well if carefully packaged. The frozen bags thaw out beautifully, and add a great touch to chicken, fish, or even basic muffins/bread-type loaves. This is now my go-to for dressing up simple meals.5 stars