How To Make Cranberry Sauce

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. Christy, why not serve all 3. The “solid” cranberry sauce in the can, the cranberry sauce with whole berries in the can and the “really good stuff” made with cranberries and oranges done in your food processer. All you have to do is toss the berries, the orange that has been cut into chunks and just a bit of sugar to taste. I always make mine about a week prior to serving so it can meld in the fridge. It is “really good stuff, Maynard”. (it is also good served with pork). Try it, you just might like it.

  2. Ooh, my oldest daughter and I love cranberry orange relish too. She will be missing it this year and it will make me sad as she is living overseas, My grandmother always made it when I was growing up and she always brought it in a beautiful green glass dish. She gave me the dish when I got married 31 years ago so I could use it in my owm home.

  3. In response to Heather @ Not a DIY Life about making cranberry relish with uncooked cranberries, well I do just that EXCEPT being from the South, I naturally use Jell-O and make it congealed!!! And here it is!! Now Heather, I’m not implying that you aren’t from the South, but I just don’t know where you are from. So I’m not being mean or anything!!! LOL! And I LOVE the way you say you fix your cranberry relish. I’ll have to try it.

    Claudine from Texas

    Claudine’s Cranberry Holiday Salad

    2 cups raw cranberries — washed and coarsely ground*
    2 cups Mandarin oranges — drained and cut up
    1 (8 oz)can crushed pineapple — drained
    1 cup sugar
    1 (6 oz) package Black Cherry Jell-O
    2 cups boiling water
    4 stalks celery — chopped
    3/4 cup walnuts — (OR pecans) chopped

    *CLAUDINE’S NOTES: The cranberries grind better if they are frozen.

    Wash and sort cranberries; grind coarsely and add the sugar.
    Mix well and set aside.
    Dissolve Jello in the boiling water and let cool.
    Add cranberries and sugar mixture, Mandarin oranges, pineapple, celery and walnuts.
    Mix well.
    Pour into a 2 quart mold or dish and chill until firmly set.
    Unmold onto a plate and pipe a design around edges and top with cream cheese if desired.

    When I first developed this recipe, Jell-O did not have the Cranberry flavor. You might want to try the Cranberry flavor instead of the Black Cherry flavor. You could use Strawberry flavor, also.

  4. A note to Heather… You are not the only one who makes cranberry relish from uncooked cranberries. I do a very similar recipe, but I grind the cranberries, a whole orange (including rind) that has been seeded and cut into wedges and pecans. I then add about 1/2 cup of sugar. Sometimes I make a small box of rasberry jello using only the 1cups of hot water, then pour that into the cranberry mixture and chill.
    My mama also adds chopped celery and chopped apples.

    But I too like the sauce from the can. It has it’s own special place!

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