How To Make Cranberry Sauce

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This easy homemade cranberry sauce is a must-make dish these holidays. Featuring cranberries (of course), sugar, pineapple, and walnuts, it’s the perfect balance of tart and sweet. 

Spoonful of cranberry sauce.

I love this homemade cranberry sauce recipe and it’s such a colorful addition to any Thanksgiving table. I might be biased, but I think it tastes so much better than store-bought sauce and it’s so easy to make. Trust me, you’ll whip this up quick as a flash and it’s sure to impress.

Now, most homemade cranberry sauce recipes include orange or orange juice. But my recipe includes pineapple instead. I think the sweet and juicy pineapple perfectly complements the tart cranberries to make a sauce that’s fresh, zingy, and to die for. My classic cranberry sauce also features walnuts for that extra crunch and texture.

While fresh cranberry sauce, turkey breast, and mashed potato are the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner combo, this sauce is so versatile (another reason to love it). I’ve included some suggestions below about ways to use leftover cranberry sauce, but you can go down the sweet or savory road. Serve it over pancakes the next day or alongside some baked ham

Labelled ingredients for cranberry sauce recipe.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Sugar
  • Cranberries
  • Walnuts
  • Crushed pineapple
  • Lemon juice

How to Make My Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Cranberries in large pot.

First, you need to drain the pineapple juice into a cup and add enough water to make one cup of juice.

Then place cranberries in a medium to large saucepot.

Add pineapple juice to saucepot.

Add pineapple juice/water.

Add sugar to saucepot.

Sugar is next.

Bring cranberries to a boil.

Stir that up and bring it to a boil, stirring every now and then.

Continue boiling until all of the berries are popped and the mixture is thickened.

Boiling sauce.

You may actually hear them pop, which is pretty cool and impresses kids.

Add rest of ingredients to saucepot.

Once all of the berries are popped, remove from heat and add all other ingredients (including lemon juice).

Remember, if you’d rather not add nuts that’s fine, too!

Finished sauce in saucepot.

Ooh yum!

Bowl of cranberry sauce/

Pour your homemade cranberry sauce into a bowl and allow it to cool.

You’ll know your sauce is ready to serve because the mixture will thicken and resemble store-bought cranberry cause in texture. However, it will obviously be much more impressive in taste because YOU made it!


  • Your sauce leftovers will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, so you can enjoy them again and again!
  • You can also freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • The walnuts are optional. Feel free to substitute pecans or pine nuts, or leave the nuts out altogether if you like.
  • Now, you could use fresh-cut pineapple if you can find it and it’s stored with the juices or you surely can buy a pineapple and juice some of it to use in this recipe. If you have those means, do whatever cranks your trailer. 
  • Here are some other additions you can add at the end of the recipe alongside the pineapple and walnuts: lemon zest or orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, or a dash of cinnamon.
  • For a spiced cranberry sauce, add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and allspice, and then 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger and clove.
  • If you want to make a sugar-free cranberry sauce, you can substitute the sugar for Splenda or another alternative.
  • I used fresh cranberries in my sauce, but you can also use the same amount of frozen cranberries.

Bowl of cranberry sauce.

Recipe FAQs

Can I make this cranberry sauce recipe in advance?

Absolutely, that’s one of the best parts! This sauce will last in the fridge for up to 3 weeks and tastes best when it’s had time to cool and thicken. So I recommend making it at least the night before, if not earlier.

What can I do with leftover cranberry sauce?

The options are basically endless when it comes to leftover cranberry sauce. First, spread it on sandwiches with leftover baked ham or turkey breast. Alternatively, make the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich with the sauce, turkey, and brie.

Otherwise, use it like jam and spread it on scones or French toast. You could also drizzle it over ice cream, pound cake, or pancakes. I told you the options are endless!

What’s the difference between cranberry sauce and cranberry relish?

People often ask how cranberry sauce is different from cranberry relish.  The fact of the matter is the sauce tends to be sweeter because it’s cooked, while cranberry relish is still tasty, just not quite as sweet and it also is not cooked.

You may also like these other cranberry recipes:

Cranberry Orange Meatballs Appetizer Anytime

Cranberry Crunch

Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Bread

Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

Sugared Cranberries (3 Ingredients Only)

Cranberry Pecan Lace Cookies

Bowl of cranberry sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This homemade cranberry sauce is so easy and fun to make. With pineapple as the sweet compliment to the tart cranberries, this holiday side aims to impress.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry, sauce
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 95kcal


  • 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup canned or fresh pineapple (reserve juice and use remaining pineapple later) If using fresh you will need to juice some
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup walnuts Nuts are optional
  • 1 tsp lemon juice


  • Drain pineapple juices into a measuring cup. Add water to make one cup of liquid
    1 cup canned or fresh pineapple (reserve juice and use remaining pineapple later)
  • Place cranberries, the cup of liquid (this is just the pineapple juice and the water, you will use the pineapple later), and sugar into a medium sauce pot. Stir.
    12 oz bag of fresh cranberries, 1 cup canned or fresh pineapple (reserve juice and use remaining pineapple later), 1/2 cup sugar
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat until all cranberries have popped and the mixture is thickened, stirring every now and then.
  • Once all the cranberries are popped, remove the sauce pot from the heat and add the nuts (optional), lemon juice and pineapple. Mix and pour into a bowl and let cool. Once cool, the cranberry sauce mixture will be jelled and ready to serve.
    1/2 cup walnuts, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 cup canned or fresh pineapple (reserve juice and use remaining pineapple later)


Calories: 95kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


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  1. I’m a die hard canned fan! My nanny always sliced it up and put it on a pretty dish. Now I do the same at Thanksgiving on one of her small relish dishes. 🙂

    I’m always tempted to try making my own because it’s so pretty, but my hubby won’t touch the whole berry kind in a can so I’m not sure if he’ll go for this one. Maybe I’ll just splurge and have both. Can’t have too much food on Thanksgiving, right?

  2. I think I am the only one in the whole wide world who makes cranberry relish from uncooked cranberries. I have never, ever seen the recipe any where, but it is the BEST! Basically process your cranberries, a peeled, skinned orange, sugar and walnuts in a food processor and allow to sit for 24 hours so the flavors come together. It is YUMMY!

    Not that I would refuse this version because this is almost exactly as my mother in law makes it. But I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year so I can have my cranberry relish the way I like it!

    1. Hi Heather. You are not alone. My mother made a relish much the same way, but I don’t remember the nuts, and as I recall, her relish had some peel in it. Thanks for reminding me. =-)

    2. I also make this uncooked cranberry relish–actually I make both kinds so there is a choice. I LOVE the uncooked kind. I make it with black walnuts (which I buy in the South when I go home and bring back with me to NY–I am a displaced Southerner).

    3. I place a bag of cranberries, a quartered navel orange (with skin) & 1/2 cup white sugar into the food processor. I “pulse” till chopped. Then add walnuts………chill & it is yummy. No need to cook.
      The navel orange skin is NOT bitter but gives a deeper orange taste. For those who want it sweeter, add more sugar!!

    4. Heather, try this one. 1 cup cranberries (food processed), 1 orange, peeled, sectioned and processed, 1 apple, cored, cut up and processed. 1/2 cup sugar. mix together and leave overnight. old family recipe of ours. kids don’t like it, but I sure do. Christy, love your website. It is wonderfully set-up and the step by step is so helpful. Thank you so much and your family for giving up their time with you so you can help all of us.

  3. Oh my gosh, this sounds SOOO good! I am trying to wean my ‘Bama boy off “the stuff with rings”! Oh, it is okay in a pinch, but this sounds so good (he loves pineapple) that we may just have a winner here! Thanks Christy!!!!

  4. I wonder if you could use brown sugar with this recipe?

    As a rule, I’m the one who likes the real cranberry
    sauce – that is, the kind that slides out of a can (lol), but this
    recipe looks easy enough that even I couldn’t mess it up!

    Thanks, again, Christy, for taking the mystery out of cooking!

    Being able to see all the ingredients, and then the step-by-step
    photos has made dinnertime planning much less burdensome for me!

    Thanks for all you do! It’s a simple thing, but it means more
    than you know!

    1. Now Carla, you are asking a brown sugar L-O-V-E-R so YES, I’d definitely put brown sugar in if if you are inclined to. I’m actually kicking myself for not having done that now that you mention it!

      You are so very sweet, thank you for your kindness! I have to admit its comments like this that keep me going! ll
      Love and Gratitude,

  5. Christy, this recipe looks and sounds delicious, but I have to confess that I still love canned cranberry sauce. My mother always sliced it and put in in a special Christmas dish also. I do the same.

      1. I like mine mushed up in dressing on top of turkey in between a buttery, flakey croissant for the day after sammich! :o)

      2. I do the same thing…lol…

        As a child, we always had the canned cranberry sauce….and I love it 🙂
        But your relish sounds so good. Thank you Christy!

      3. Hey Christy! I love your website! I also love the canned cranberry sauce. I don’t honestly believe I have ever had anything else! We eat it year around and anytime you eat at my granny’s house you will have it! My husband ( I refer to him as a city boy!) thinks that cranberry sauce is only to be served at holidays! Bless his heart!

        P.S.-I like to eat mine with my mashed taters!!!

      4. I like my canned cranberry sauce mushed into my dressing too. I also like it sliced on pumpernickel or marble rye bread with cream cheese.

    1. I have an Aunt Charlie too and she’s a great cook! Hi to yours!
      I might use this recipe this year. I have a great one but it’s much more complicated and being that this is my first year hosting (rather than just bringing the cranberries) something simpler might be in order.

    2. OH Dear Christy

      I got in to big a hurry, the phone rang right in the middle of me making this and I ended up using the ENTIRE can of pineapple. UGH!

      I sure hope it turns out okay! 🙂

      1. Mix a large box of raspberry jello in one and a half cups of boiling water and mix well. Allow to cool and add to the above recipe for a quick fix. I fix cranberry relish with fresh, chopped in food processor berries, one whole orange, 3/4 C. sugar and raspberry jello mixed with 2 cups of boiling water. Allow to cool and add to mixture. Is terrific. Can add crushed pineapple and nuts.

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