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. Morning Christy,
    We always had canned as a kid too…all sliced so pretty on that cut glass plate. But now that I live close to where I can get the cranberries fresh, it’s homemade relish for us as well. It’s so easy, not alot of mess or time involved, but boy does everyone think it’s the best thing goin’. Thank you for your recipe, may have to change mine up a bit this year.

    Oh, and AngelMass, you are my new hero…a friend, years ago, brought your recipe to our Thanksgiving, did he bring the recipe…nope…but I’m sure yours is it…it was heavenly!

    Thanks all!

  2. Hey Christy,
    My mama served canned cranberry sauce in a glass dish and I have a glass dish like it that I serve on too! I’m sure your mama’s is wonderful. Paula Deen slices her canned c. sauce and puts a mixture of mayo., cream cheese and pecans between two slices. Haven’t tried it tho.
    By the way, do you have a day off in a couple of weeks to go with me to lunch? I know you’re a busy woman, I was thinking it would be nice to go out during this time of year with all the decorations up and everything. If not, we can always wait until after the holidays. Love ya!

  3. This reminds me of the one I make every year…but mine has a little twist. There is never a bite left in the bowl. EVER. AND they beg me to make it throughout the year as well. Here is my version! It’s beautiful in a clear or clear pink bowl…I use one of my grandma’s depression glass bowls.

    2 (3 ounce) packages cherry flavored
    gelatin mix
    1 (16 ounce) can whole cranberry sauce
    1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with

    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
    1 cup chopped pecans
    1 tablespoon mayonnaise
    1. Drain crushed pineapple and save 1/4 cup of the juice. Dissolve gelatin in 2 cups of hot water. Stir in cranberries and crushed pineapple. Pour 1/2 of the mixture in a bowl and leave at room temperature, set the other 1/2 in the refrigerator until firm.
    2. In a separate bowl mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, reserved pineapple juice and chopped pecans. Spread mixture over chilled gelatin. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Pour the room temperature gelatin over the top of the cream cheese layer and refrigerate until set.

  4. If you want a really Wonderful taste. Try putting a can of Vernor’s Ginger Ale Soda in with the cranberries. That ginger taste mixed with the tart cranberry flavor and some orange peel just has that special Holiday smell and taste to it. I always use brown sugar as well. And a pinch of salt. It is O.M.G. Good. (Oh My Goodness) Good.

    Hope Everyone one has a wonderful time with their special folks this Thanksgiving. ” Remember ” Treat every special gathering like it might be the last. For some it truely might be. With Love to all. Stephanie-SoutherngirlinOcala.

  5. Oh, MY!!! Thank you! I’m a southern gal stuck in MI and really, really wanted to make cranberry relish for my family this year (can take the girl out of the south, but not the south out of the girl). This is precisely the recipe I was looking for. I probably will add a little chopped apple (after the relish cools) for a little added crunch. So very glad to find this website!

  6. I make the cranberries that are ground raw with orange and I always grind an apple into it as it makes it sweeter and a bit milder. We always called it cranberry relish. I consider it an “essential” at the Thanksgiving feast. It freezes well too. I love the canned jellied stuff sliced thin and it on a cold turkey sandwich and adds moisture.

  7. This is great! I’d always wanted to try my hand at making a cranberry relish but hey, the stuff in a can *is* good. ^_^

    I’ll give this a go this Thanksgiving. Although, I might substitute oranges instead (my family isn’t too big on the texture of cooked pineapple for some reason).

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