Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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This tangy, sweet homemade cranberry sauce with lemon trumps anything you can buy at the store.

Do you know how easy it is to make cranberry sauce? If you can boil water, I promise you can make cranberry sauce.

Homemade cranberry sauce in white bowl with ladle

For years, I bought cranberry sauce in a can and my husband and boys ate every last bit of it. They clearly enjoy cranberry sauce. We even bought an extra can or two every year, just for the leftovers.

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I love so many other cranberry recipes, from cranberry apple pie to Christmas cake, cranberry jalapeno dip to cranberry pancakes. But cranberry sauce? That was never my thing. It was only ever something we had for the boys in the house – until now.

Cranberry Sauce with Lemon

About a dozen years ago, that changed for me. I tried a sandwich that stacked turkey with cranberry sauce and I fell in love with the combination.

It was not a sugary sweet cranberry sauce, it was tangy and just a bit sweet at the same time. I now understand why so many people think it just isn’t Thanksgiving without the cranberry sauce.

I’ve made cranberry sauce a few different ways over the past 10 or so years, but this cranberry sauce with lemon is my favorite version. This is the easiest of the Thanksgiving side dishes to make ahead of time for the holidays too.

cranberry sauce in saucepan

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

You’ll need the following ingredients to make this recipe:

  • cranberries
  • water
  • sugar
  • salt
  • fresh lemon juice

Fresh or frozen cranberries may be used to make cranberry sauce. I typically toss the fresh cranberries in the freezer when I get home from the store

strain the cranberry sauce for a smooth result

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

When the cranberries start to pop, the sauce is done. Cool completely and then place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Most of the time, I prefer a smooth sauce, so I often press the cooked mixture through a strainer while it is still warm. It’s easy enough to do and if you’re a house divided, you can strain just half of the sauce.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce on wooden table with floral napkin

How Long Does Homemade Cranberry Sauce Last?

Cranberry sauce can be made a week in advance and then stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until it is needed. Homemade cranberry sauce will last 10-14 days in the refrigerator.

I typically make our cranberry sauce the week before Thanksgiving. The convenience and ease of prepping side dishes in advance of Thanksgiving Day can’t be overstated.

Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

Yes, you can! Homemade cranberry sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator and stir it before serving.

Want a stress-free Thanksgiving dinner? Find out what you can make-ahead and follow the timeline to get it all done on time!

Are you a list maker? Do you love having a plan for everything and then checking things off? If so, this post is for you.

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cranberry sauce in saucepan

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

5 from 3 votes
This tangy, sweet homemade cranberry sauce trumps anything you can buy at the store.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings (about 3 cups worth)


  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice about half a lemon's worth


  • Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  • When the cranberries start to pop, the sauce is done. Cool completely and then place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • For a smooth sauce, place a mesh strainer over a large bowl and press the hot cooked sauce through it. Use the back of a wooden spoon or a large spatula to do this. Scrape the underside of the strainer as you do this, there will be a lot of sauce there too.


Calories: 77kcal · Carbohydrates: 20g · Protein: 0.1g · Fat: 0.1g · Saturated Fat: 0.003g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g · Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g · Sodium: 50mg · Potassium: 24mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 18g · Vitamin A: 17IU · Vitamin C: 4mg · Calcium: 3mg · Iron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 11/18/11 – recipe notes and photos updated 11/22/23}

bright red cranberry sauce in white bowl with silver spoon

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Jenn says

    I just made homemade cranberry sauce of our company's Thanksgiving potluck. People thought I was a supper star! lol Little do they know how easy it truly is!

  2. Mallory says

    Really, there is no excuse to buy canned cranberry sauce when you can make your own in minutes. I love to add a little bit of liqueur…Grand Marnier, cognac…for more flavor. Citrus is definitely a must too!

  3. Joanne says

    I always thought I hated cranberry sauce…until I made my own and realized I just hate cranberry sauce from a can! Homemade is definitely the way to go. I always add ginger to mine…HUGE hit.

  4. Jean | Delightful Repast says

    Mary, I've been making cranberry sauce for decades, but I still remember how I amazed I was at the difference between homemade and canned. For one thing, the canned whole berry sauce is full of stems that I had to pick out one by one! Your strained sauce looks fabulous.

  5. Tricia @ saving room for dessert says

    You know I have always felt the same way as you about cranberry sauce. I've never made homemade, nor have I tried it on my turkey, etc. My husband always wants to have it with the meal. I love the idea of straining it while warm – I'm not into the chunky-ness. Did you make those rolls?

  6. Reem | Simply Reem says

    Mary i love how you post almost everyday…
    I really look up to you my dear for being so committed, you rock my friend…
    B'coz of my crazy schedule these days I sometime miss your post somedays but trust me when I come back I make sure I read every post… And I love it.
    This sauce looks so good…
    I am already into Thanksgiving anxiety mode, having almost 30 people for dinner this time.
    Im a scared…
    This looks really good…

    • Kijake says

      Costco generally has large bags of fresh cranberries available this time of year. I grabbed one as soon as they had them stocked. I freeze mine until Thanksgving.

    • Anonymous says

      I just bought a bag of fresh Ocean Spray cranberries at Walmart for right around $1.50. I've got to try this and pick up several more bags to try more things with!

  7. Becki's Whole Life says

    I am not sure why, but I have never really been a big fan of the canned cranberry sauce. My mom always made a cranberry relish that had orange peel and celery and it was delish. I love the simplicity in this sauce because it let's the cranberry flavor really come through with just a little bit of sweetness. Perfect!

  8. tonypboa says

    I made some last year, using 1/2 cup of maple syrup, and 1/2 cup of honey, instead of the sugar. Plus some orange zest. It was great!

  9. Anonymous says

    I started making cranberry sauce about 5 yrs ago. It is the best. I make mine with cinnamon and orange zest. yummmm.