Just like Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without stuffing, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without this homemade cranberry orange sauce – it’s a little bit tangy, a little bit sweet, and a lot bit delicious!

Cranberry Sauce

When I’m menu planning for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a random mid-August dinner party with a winter holiday theme, cranberry sauce is the last recipe to cross my mind. I’m usually so preoccupied with the larger tasks at hand: don’t burn the bird, casserole, stuffing, array of desserts, appetizers, theme-appropriate cocktails, something kids will eat, etc. …that the cranberry sauce is forgotten until the last minute.

If you’re like me, worry not. I’ve got your hostess-with-the-mostess hiney covered. The ingredients in this fail-proof cranberry orange sauce are probably already in your house, and this deliciousness can be prepared the night before or just 15 minutes before. It’s up to you!

In addition to this paleo cranberry sauce being lick-the-spoon tasty, it’s actually healthy too! So put that canned cranberry sauce down – food shaped like a can is scary – and let’s get going on this easy, healthy alternative! 

three oranges on a black granite countertop
an orange half in a lemon squeezer being juiced into a glass measuring cup
glass measuring cup of orange juice being poured into a black saucepan on a gas stovetop
orange zest on a wooden cutting board with a microplane hovering over it
orange juice and honey bubbling in a black saucepan on a gas stovetop

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Ingredients

Just a few really simple ingredients bring this tasty side dish together. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Orange Juice – to start, you’ll need a ½ cup of orange juice (the juice from about three medium oranges). Fresh is best, so go for fresh orange juice whenever possible!
  • Lemon Juice – in addition to the orange juice, you’ll also need the juice of 1 small lemon,…
  • Honey – …a ¼ cup of honey,…
  • Raw Cranberries – …5 cups of raw cranberries,…
  • Orange Zest – …1 tablespoon of orange zest (note that if you’re particularly sensitive to bitter flavors, you may want to leave the zest out),…
  • Salt – …a pinch of salt, and…
  • Fresh Thyme – …fresh thyme for an (optional) garnish.

How to Make Orange Cranberry Sauce

This dish is as easy as it is tasty! It can be done in just 15 minutes…here’s how you’ll do it:

  1. Add the Juice + Honey to a Pot – pour the orange juice, lemon juice, and honey into a medium saucepan or pot over medium heat, and let simmer for a few minutes.
  2. Add the Cranberries – next, add the fresh cranberries, stir, and simmer to let the cranberries burst for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the Salt – add the salt, stir again, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the Orange Zest – add the orange peel, stir, and either pour in a loaf pan to chill overnight in the refrigerator or into a bowl to serve warm.
blue measuring cup filled with cranberries being held over a grey saucepan
grey saucepan with a stainless steel heat over a gas flame
woman's hand sprinkling orange zest into a pot full of cranberry sauce
grey saucepan filled with cranberries on a stovetop with a wooden spoon in it
bubbling cranberry sauce being stirred by a wooden spoon in a grey saucepan on a stovetop
cranberry sauce in a grey saucepan on a stovetop being stirred by a wooden spoon


Though this Cranberry Orange Sauce is stunning as written, there are a few things you can do to really make it your own. Here are a few variations worth trying:

  • Add Spices – if holiday spices are your thing, simmer a cinnamon stick or add a dash of ground cinnamon and cloves to your cranberry sauce.
  • Spike It – for an adult cranberry sauce, add a few tablespoons of spiced rum, cognac, or brandy!
  • Switch Up the Sugar – if honey isn’t your thing (or you just don’t have any on hand), use a 1/4 cup sugar (brown or white granulated sugar) or maple syrup in its place.
  • Use Frozen Cherries – if you like a less-tart cranberry sauce, try substituting half the cranberries with frozen pitted cherries.

Can cranberry sauce be made in advance?

Sure! Cranberry sauce keeps for at least a week in the fridge, so feel free to check this side dish off of your holiday dinner to-do list ahead of time! 

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

You can! No more throwing away these delicious leftovers. Instead, freeze any uneaten leftovers for later use! Cranberry sauce will keep frozen for up to 3 months.

easy homemade paleo cranberry sauce

How To Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

There are SO many ways to use cranberry sauce leftovers. Here are a few of our very favorite ways to enjoy cranberry sauce after the big holiday feast: 

  • Cranberry Pork Shoulder – this recipe is simple, but the flavors are BIG. Our favorite way to enjoy this cranberry pork shoulder? On a bed of leftover mashed potatoes!
  • Cranberry Bison Meatloaf – this paleo meatloaf is the perfect healthy winter comfort food. Swap out the 4 ingredient cranberry sauce in the meatloaf recipe for your leftover cranberry orange sauce!
  • Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich – combine leftover stuffing, gravy, turkey (or ham!), and cranberry sauce between two pieces of bread for an epic sandwich.
  • Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole – this casserole is great for anyone who would prefer a fresh dish over leftovers.
  • Serve it with Pork Tenderloin – serve your leftover cranberry sauce alongside juicy, tender slices of pork tenderloin! 
  • Serve it with Breakfast – for a REALLY yummy breakfast, top a warm bowl of oatmeal or a stack of pancakes with a dollop of cranberry sauce, a sprinkle of granola, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

We hope that this easy cranberry sauce recipe makes it onto your holiday table this year and that you get creative with the leftovers afterward!

More Thanksgiving Recipes

Easy Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce

5 from 1 vote
By Cassy
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
With just a few ingredients, this easy cranberry sauce takes no time at all to make and tastes way better than the canned version!


  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 5 cups raw cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest from about 1 orange
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh thyme for garnish {optional}


  • Pour the orange juice, lemon juice, and honey into a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Let simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add the fresh cranberries, stir, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt, stir, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the orange zest, stir, and either pour in a loaf pan to cool and set in the refrigerator overnight or into a bowl to serve warm.


Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 74mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 58IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 0.2mg

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 56
Keyword: homemade cranberry sauce, paleo cranberry sauce

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About the Author

Cassy Joy Garcia, NC

Cassy Joy Garcia, a New York Times best-selling author, of Cook Once Dinner Fix, Cook Once Eat All Week, and Fed and Fit as well as the creative force behind the popular food blog Fed & Fit.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Beautiful deep red color. But, I would agree, it does require a bit more honey. Still a great recipe that is easy to adapt to your own taste buds!

  2. This turned out so tart and sour… Definitely not sweet enough. I had to add lots more honey and maple syrup to sweeten. (and my palate is used to eating less sweet things)

  3. 5 stars
    This is getting served at my Thanksgiving this year. I’m just about to throw it in the fridge now! I sliced an orange and placed the slices around the edge and added some cinnamon sticks while it cooked.

    It tastes so yummy!

    1. Hi Stephanie, we haven’t tested it out, but I don’t see why not! If you try it, let us know if it works!

  4. This looks delicious! Can I use frozen cranberries insead of the fresh ones? will it make a difference? Also can I use maple instead of honey? Thaank you.

    1. Absolutely! Both those substitutions will work. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Happy Thanksgiving!    Just wanted to tell you that I love, love, LOVE  your blog and recipes.   Such fun to read and so well explained.   Thank you, thank you!

    Enjoy your holiday!


    1. You made my day, Denise! Thank you so much for your sweet, sweet comment. Happy belated Thanksgiving 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on Real Food Pledge and commented:
    This is so lovely that I just had to share it!

    1. You are welcome? I love your recipes & your website. Yours is one of my favourite blogs!