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World’s Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Citrus

This is the only homemade cranberry sauce I’ll ever make for the rest of my life – yes, it’s THAT good. In my humble opinion, this recipe perfectly balances tart and sweet, with added liquor to dress it up a bit! It’s the perfect side dish for your Thanksgiving meal and also makes a great appetizer when making Cranberry Brie Cups.

Bowl of homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest and spoon.


I must tell you that I’ve never been a fan of cranberry sauce – too tart and just not good. But – THIS!! I will never miss making this homemade cranberry at Thanksgiving from here on out – it’s one of my favorite dishes, and it has become a tradition in our household.

The ingredients are straightforward – my only caution is that the recipe calls for one pound of cranberries (i.e., 16 ounces), and the prepackaged fresh cranberries usually come in 12-ounce bags (at least in my part of the world), so you’ll have to buy two packages.

So what to do with the extra cranberries? Well, you can use up the two bags by making 1.5 times the recipe (so you’ll have extra for making cranberry bites, my other all-time favorite holiday appetizer) OR use a partial amount of the second bag and have leftover cranberries for other uses like bread, muffins, or maybe drying them for salads.

Ingredients for the best ever cranberry sauce
Ingredients: Fresh cranberries (top); sugar, lemon juice (or orange juice) (center); jam, salt, Amaretto (optional), and water.

How to Make

This homemade cranberry sauce is really simple to make. Once everything is measured out, it is pretty much a snap to finish.

Whisking water and sugar to form simple syrup.

Step 1: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine sugar, salt, and water, stirring until dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, creating a simple syrup.

Adding cranberries to simple syrup.

Step 2: Add raw cranberries, ensuring they’re coated, and cook for about 5 minutes until cranberry skins burst.

Pouring orange juice into cranberry sauce.

Step 3: Remove from heat, transfer to a heatproof bowl, and let it cool briefly. Stir in orange marmalade, and lemon juice.

Pouring amaretto into cranberry sauce.

Step 4: Add Amaretto, thoroughly mixing. Allow the cranberry sauce to cool to room temperature, and it will naturally thicken.

Once cooled, transfer your Amaretto cranberry sauce to a serving dish. Refrigerate until serving to enhance flavors.

Leftover Cranberry Sauce?

Leftover cranberry sauce can be repurposed in various delicious ways, so you don’t let it go to waste. Here are some ideas for using up leftover cranberry sauce:

  1. Spread it on Toast or Sandwiches:
    Cranberry sauce can be used as a flavorful spread on toast, bagels, or sandwiches. It adds a sweet and tart element to your morning or lunchtime meals. Try making a Wawa Gobbler!
  2. Mix it into Yogurt:
    Stir leftover cranberry sauce into plain or vanilla yogurt for a fruity and tangy twist. Top it with granola or nuts for extra texture.
  3. Bake it into Muffins or Bread:
    Incorporate leftover cranberry sauce into muffin or quick bread batter for a fruity and moist treat. Cranberry orange muffins or cranberry walnut bread are popular options.
  4. Mix it into Oatmeal:
    Stir cranberry sauce into your morning oatmeal or porridge for added sweetness and tartness. Top with nuts or seeds for extra crunch.
  5. Create a Salad Dressing:
    Blend cranberry sauce with olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and seasonings to make a unique and tangy salad dressing.
  6. Serve it with Cheese:
    Pair leftover cranberry sauce with a cheese platter, particularly soft or creamy cheeses like Brie or cream cheese. It adds a delightful contrast to the richness of the cheese.

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📖 Recipe

Bowl of homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest and spoon.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Citrus

Makes about 5 cups of the best homemade cranberry sauce you will ever have. It's SO good.
5 from 1 vote
Author: Marie
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 20 servings (1/4 cup each)
Calories 115 kcal


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups raw cranberries 1 full pound, picked over and washed
  • 1/3 cup orange marmalade
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/3 cup Amaretto
  • orange zest for garnish optional


  • Combine the sugar, salt, and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for approximately 5 minutes. This will create a simple syrup.
  • Add the raw cranberries to the simmering syrup. Stir to coat the cranberries with the syrup.
  • Continue to cook the cranberries for about 5 minutes or until most cranberry skins burst.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully transfer the cranberry mixture to a heatproof bowl. Let it cool for a few minutes.
  • Stir in the orange marmalade, lemon juice, and Amaretto. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.
  • Allow the cranberry sauce to cool to room temperature. As it cools, it will thicken naturally.
  • Transfer the Amaretto cranberry sauce to a serving dish once cooled. You can refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve. The flavors will meld together and intensify as it chills.
  • Keeps 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 2 to 3 months in the freezer.


Calories: 115kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 0.2gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.02gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 19mgPotassium: 34mgFiber: 1gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 18IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 0.1mg
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