Quick Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce

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Servings : Prep Time : Cook Time : Ready In : Fresh cranberries flavored with orange and cinnamon this recipe for quick fresh cranberry orange sauce is a great addition to roasted poultry or try it with a pork tenderloin.

Close-up of bowl of easy Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce

There are many fine cranberry sauces out there, but I think the balanced sweet/tart flavors of my Quick Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce makes it the best for your holiday meal, or any day meal.

Quick Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce


  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 2 (about 1 inch wide 3 inch long) strips orange zest
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated orange zest


Step 1

Bring the orange juice, water, sugar, orange strips, and cinnamon stick to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the cranberries, lower heat to a simmer and cook until the cranberries most burst, some whole ones are fine - about 10 - 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 15 - 20 minutes, then remove the strips of orange and cinnamon stick. Stir in the freshly grated orange zest. Transfer to a covered bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, overnight is best.


{The making of Quick Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce}

Festive bowl of Easy Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce


A day late. A dollar short.

The story of my life – as I once again post a recipe after the fact. The fact is, Thanksgiving is over. And most of you have already finished off your left-over turkey and dressing, and all the fixings.

But wait! I also know for a fact that many people make a turkey at Christmas too. So perhaps I’m not a day late, but 25 days early? Yes, that’s it. I’m 25 days early.

My Progression into Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce was not my fav as a child. At the time, about all you could find in a grocery store was jellied cranberry sauce. And I didn’t enjoy the texture of flavorless jellied cranberry sauce. Once they came out with whole berry canned cranberry sauce, I thought “this is better”, but it was still one dimensional in flavor.

Too much sugar.

Too sweet.

When stores finally began to carry fresh cranberries, I was in “let’s make it better” heaven. Fresh cranberries take hardly any work or time to cook.

Absolutely no reason to open a can again.

My first experiments into making fresh cranberry sauce tended towards the savory side. Cranberries with port wine and thyme. How about ginger and star anise? Finely diced shallot? All of these preparations were good, but a little heavy for them to be a proper compliment to turkey, gravy, stuffing, and the other fixings.

I started experimenting with orange flavors. There are a lot of recipes out there that used orange zest. Some used orange juice. A few used both. I tried almost all of the variations before I hit on what I consider to be a perfect cranberry sauce,  my recipe for Quick Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce.


shot from above a bowl of Easy Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce


Why is this the BEST Cranberry Sauce?

Because my sister said so. Well, she did, and she’s a great cook. But here’s the real reason I think this gets high marks as the best cranberry sauce – a perfect balance of sweet, sour, acid, and texture – it compliments the turkey and rich gravy it’s served beside. It cuts the fat and adds a fresh note to the meal. That’s what I think a proper cranberry sauce should do.

Balance the meal with its own unique flavor.

What the Cranberry?

Cranberries are native to North America and raised in sandy bogs. With only 25 calories per half cup, they are considered a powerhouse food. Cranberries are a good source of vitamins C and K and are high in anti-toxins.  Cranberry juice and cranberries themselves have many health benefits and are known to help with urinary tract health.

There are about 40,000 acres of cranberry farms across the United States and Canada. Most of the crop goes into juice or dried cranberry. But at Thanksgiving and Christmas bags and bags of fresh cranberries can be found in supermarkets everywhere. Buy extra when available – they freeze well and can be used in cookies, scones, or just make some sauce and serve it with a roasted pork tenderloin or my Perfect Roasted Chicken.

Or perhaps, if you are brave, you could grow your own.

How is my Quick Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce different?

I’m glad you asked. It’s different because most recipes that use zest cook it into the cranberries. I use zest in two ways. First, as long strips, I cook in the sauce. This I remove after allowing the sauce to cool slightly, then I add the freshly grated orange zest to the sauce. Uncooked the zest gives a fresh pop of flavor.

I also add a half stick of cinnamon to the cooking sauce, again this is removed after allowing the flavors to meld for about 15 minutes on the stovetop. Just a hint of cinnamon.

A bit of fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup to 3/4 cup of water, gives another layer of flavor – without overpowering the cranberries.

And finally, sugar. I use less sugar than most recipes which keeps the sweetness down and gives the sauce a great balance of flavor, sweetness, and tartness, which, as I stated before, is the perfect way to balance the heavy flavors usually associated with a holiday meal.

But of course, if you like it sweeter, or tarter, adjust your sugar accordingly.


an antique bowl filled with Easy Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce


I know there are a lot of recipes out there for cranberry sauce, but I hope you will give my Quick Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce a try. Once you do, I think you will agree, it’s the BEST!

Holiday Cheers!

This Quick Cranberry Orange Sauce is also perfect with my recipe for Perfect Simple Roast Chicken – no holiday needed.


Quick Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce

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Recipe Comments

  1. posted by Judy Goar on December 25, 2017

    I add some Grand Marnier to my homemade sauce after it has cooled – yummy!!!

    • posted by LindySez on December 25, 2017

      That would certainly add to the “orange” flavors in a delightful way! Cheers ~ Lindy

  2. posted by Roslia Santamaria on May 22, 2019

    This looks super tasty!! I can’t wait to give it a try! It’s all delicious ingredients 🙂


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