This homemade cranberry sauce is cooked with the fall flavors of apples, orange, and cinnamon, giving this traditional holiday classic a melody of new flavors.

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Easy cranberry orange sauce recipe

About Cranberry Sauce with Apple, Orange, and Cinnamon

Nothing quite says the holidays like cranberry sauce.

Because really, cranberry sauce is the staple fruit option to round out any respectable Thanksgiving dinner, amirite?

And maybe that’s because cranberries are one of those few flavors we reserve for the winter months, or maybe it’s because cranberries go amazingly well with all the turkey, but you know what?

Even if it wasn’t the holidays, I’d make cranberry sauce anyway simply because of the delicious sweetly tart taste.

How to make homemade citrus cranberry sauce.

What’s in this cranberry sauce?

In order to make this classic sauce for the holidays, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Cranberries – The star of the show! A holiday favorite thanks to its tart and sweet flavor. This recipe will work well with either fresh or frozen cranberries.
  • Orange juice and orange zest – For that sweet citrus flavor that balances cranberries so well.
  • Light brown sugar and maple syrup – Added sweetness to counter the tartness of the cranberries.
  • Apple – For a touch of fall flavor.
  • Cinnamon stick – Cooked in the sauce and removed before serving, this adds just the right hint of slightly-spicy cinnamon flavor.

How many oranges do you need?

This recipe calls for a half cup of orange juice and roughly three tablespoons of orange zest. While you should be able to get enough zest from one orange, each orange only yields about a quarter cup of juice – so if your goal was to only use fresh juice, you would need two oranges total to meet the requirements of this recipe.

Can you make cranberry sauce in advance?

Certainly! Cranberry sauce is great for making in advance and freeing up kitchen space for big holiday events.

For the best presentation, I recommend making this sauce no more than 24 hours in advance. It can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container until ready to serve.

How long is cranberry sauce good for?

Great news here: sauces like this do very well in the fridge.

In fact, homemade cranberry sauce can typically be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to three to four days.

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

Yes! Due to the high sugar content in cranberry sauce, it will keep it’s texture and flavor very well once frozen.

Once frozen, cranberry sauce should remain good for one to two months.

Should you serve cranberry sauce warm or cold?

In the end, this comes down to personal preference, but to give you some ideas of how to decide:

  • A warm sauce will be more liquid and may be better if you’re serving it to be eaten with other foods, like drizzling cranberry sauce over turkey.
  • A chilled cranberry sauce might work best when served as a side dish, designed to be enjoyed on its own like creamed corn or green beans.

How long can you leave out cranberry sauce?

Whenever you’ve served perishable food, you should always keep track of how long it sits at room temperature. This can be especially tricky when hosting a holiday dinner.

For most foods, the general rule of thumb is that a perishable item should not be in the “danger zone” for more than two hours. And by “danger zone”, this is usually at or just above room temperature.

If you serve this sauce warm, that should give you another 30-60 minutes before needing to keep track of the time. So, in total, this sauce can be left out for an absolute maximum of three hours, depending on the temperature of the room. However, be sure to still check the sauce every now and then and use your best judgment on its condition. Once you’re near the recommended time, you can warm it up in the microwave again. For best results, I’d recommend using a warming tray so that the cranberry sauce stays warm and above the “danger zone” temperature.

If you’re serving this sauce cold, try to keep it out for two hours or less. After that point, you can chill the sauce for another 30 minutes or so, then serve again.

More great sauce recipes

How to make homemade cranberry sauce

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – Toss the fresh cranberries, water, orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar, maple syrup, apples, and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan.

Step 2 – Stir everything well.

Step 3 – Allow sauce to simmer until cranberries begin to burst and the sauce turns a creamy dark red color.

Step 4 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Easy cranberry orange sauce recipe
4.55 from 31 votes

Cranberry Sauce with Apple, Orange, and Cinnamon

10 minutes prep + 20 minutes cook
127 kcal
Yields: 6 servings
This homemade cranberry sauce is cooked with the fall flavors of apples, orange, and cinnamon, giving this traditional holiday classic a melody of new flavors.


  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 large apple, peeled and diced to bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup water


  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, add cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar, maple syrup, apples, cinnamon stick, and water.
    12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries, 1/2 cup orange juice, 3 tablespoons orange zest, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 large apple, 1 cinnamon stick, 1/2 cup water
  • Bring sauce to a boil and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes. Sauce has finished cooking when cranberries have have burst, giving the sauce it’s trademark thick texture. Before removing from heat, taste test the sauce; if sauce is too tart, add 1 tablespoon of syrup or brown sugar until desired sweetness is reached.
  • Remove sauce from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • Serve immediately.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 127kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 95IU | Vitamin C: 19.6mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 0.3mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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Recipe Rating


    • Jean
    • 5 stars

    My husband, who is not a big foodie by any, stretch taste tested this for me. His biggest feedback for food is typically, “pretty good” which is really a non-compliment. “Pretty good” is simply acceptable, won’t offend anyone, tolerable. This cranberry sauce got a, “This is good.” Pause….and then, “This is REALLY good”. Consider that the biggest praise ever, worthy of 5 stars, winning Chopped on Food Network awesomeness.
    I thought it was pretty awesome as well but was worried the more simplistic tastebuds of hubby might think this was a bit much, but to my great pleasure it’s, “REALLY good”.
    I had doubled the recipe and did then add a 1/4 cup more of brown sugar after cooking for about 15 minutes. Also, I may have been a little shy on the amount of orange zest. I used Opal apples. And, a weird one, but when I took the cinnamon sticks out I couldn’t help licking them off and kind of treating them like a straw. Holy cow, the fresh cinnamon with the cranberries was so so delightful.

    • Sarah

    Just made this for Thanksgiving and it’s delicious!! I made it earlier today and put it into the refrigerator for tomorrow’s dinner! I cannot wait to hear my family’s reaction!!

    • Joni

    Someone else may have asked this already.

    Would it work in a slow cooker?

    • Jo-Ellen Garver
    • 5 stars

    Just the right blend of tart and sweet. Loved it!

    • Deborah
    • 5 stars

    What variety of fresh apple works best for this recipe? What have y’all used ? Anyone please feel free to chime in! Thank you!

    • Jessica

    Just curious what apple would be best for this recipe?

    • Carol M Bettencourt

    Looking for a cranberry pie recipe which was lost in the move. The recipe needed cutting the cranberries in half, sugar, and a little flour. Put it in the pieshell and bake.
    The result is a beautiful, bright red, jelled pie. I searched on line and in cook books. No sucess. Cutting the berries in half seems to be the secret of releasing the pectin and natural jelling. Please help.

    • amber
    • 5 stars

    really yummy! i didn’t have apples so i used pears instead and added nutmeg and cardamom spices along with the cinnamon. such a treat =)

      • Deborah

      Yum pears & nutmeg sound delicious!

    • Christy

    I was thinking of adding some Mandarin oranges to this… How would that pair, and when would I add them to the schedule of things?? 🙂

      • Ruth
      • 5 stars

      Oranges would compliment the sauce, so I would add them the last 5 or 10 min. You don’t want them to be too mushy.

    • Marie
    • 4 stars

    Made this for our Thanksgiving dinner, the best cranberry sauce I’ve ever had. Used more brown sugar in place of maple syrup, because I didn’t have any syrup. It was so yummy!!!

    • Krissy
    • 5 stars

    I like to make this with 1/2 cup red wine instead of water. I add blueberries too 🙂 love this recipe, people who use canned cranberry sauce (yuck) are totally missing out!

    • KC

    Why hefty bags? Can I just store it a Tupperware or Pyrex container? And can I substitute ground cinnamon instead of a cinnamon stick?