This Cranberry Sauce with Orange is one of my most beloved Thanksgiving recipes here on Healthy Seasonal Recipes. It’s an annual tradition! It’s made with whole fresh cranberries, apples, orange segments, orange juice and allspice, and cooked into a chunky, sweet and tart sauce. It’s made with about half the sugar, but it’s full of natural sweetness and spice for a unique and gourmet cranberry sauce that’ll become a tradition for you too. 

Cranberry Sauce with Orange on a white tablescape with sedum and red wine

I originally shared this post on November 15th, 2013. This post contains affiliate links.

As the page on the calendar turns from October to November, the Halloween candy is pulled out of the “seasonal” sections to make room for red and green everything, and the Thanksgiving end caps are placed at the end of each grocery store isle, I can feel the buzzing excitement of Thanksgiving start to build here in the Healthy Seasonal Food Nerd Studio. We (Stephanie and I) have been whipping up a Thanksgiving holiday storm for you all and I am so excited to share so many recipes with you this month. From Herb Roasted Turkey to the trimmings! 

I decided to start off by refreshing this easy recipe for Cranberry Sauce with Orange, because it is a favorite (of you dear readers and me too!) The photos were dated, and I wanted to update the text filling you in on more tasty tidbits about the best way to make cranberry sauce, and show you just how easy it is to make in a video too! 

overhead view of cranberry sauce with apple and orange with sedum and a spoon

What is Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

Whole berry cranberry sauce is probably the easiest type of cranberry sauce to make. That’s opposed to jellied cranberry sauce which is usually strained and has the addition of gelatin or there is also cranberry relish which involves chopping the berries finely to create a rustic relish texture.

To make whole berry cranberry sauce, simply combine cranberries, sweetener (usually sugar) and some sort of liquid. Cook the mixtures in a saucepan until the cranberries burst (this takes 5 minutes.) Then as the mixture cools, the natural pectin in the cranberries will thicken the sauce and make it thick. It is that easy! 

In the case of this cranberry sauce with orange I used about half the sugar as traditional cranberry sauce (more on that below) and orange juice for the liquid. The resulting sauce is a sweet, tart and unique taste. {I love it so much I spoon it over Greek yogurt for breakfast.}


How To Make Cranberry Sauce with Orange

Shopping For Cranberries

  1. Types of Cranberries You Can Buy: You can buy cranberries fresh, frozen or dried. For making this recipe, you can use either fresh or frozen. Dried cranberries are delish and go great in Kale Salad with Delicata Squash or Vegetarian Thanksgiving Pilaf etc, though are not juicy enough to make into a sauce.
  2. Where In Grocery Store: At the market, especially in natural food stores or Whole Foods, you can find fresh cranberries in bulk in the produce department, often times in water with a scoop. I love buying them this way, and I try to find local Vermont cranberries whenever they’re in season. 
  3. Bagged Cranberries: Other times, and most commonly, you’ll find cranberries sold in 12-ounce bags in the produce department. That’s what I used for this recipe today- a whole 12-ounce bag.
  4. Frozen Cranberries: Also sometimes you can find frozen cranberries in bags. Since I adore cranberries, I often buy extra and throw a couple bags into my freezer so I can make Cranberry Crumb Bars or Cranberry Bread whenever the mood strikes! 
  5. Don’t Buy Cranberries That Are Going Bad: Avoid cranberries that are wrinkled or look like they are softening. These are not good, and should get composted. If you’re purchasing bulk cranberries, just avoid the ones that don’t look fresh, the others should be fine. 
  6. Once you get them home, make sure they are dry and store them in the refrigerator. 

Pick Over The Cranberries

  • Cranberries are grown on low trailing vines, and when they become ripe, the cranberry bogs are literally flooded. Cranberries are somewhat hollow inside, so they actually float and the farmers can scoop them up. There are small amounts of dry harvest cranberries, but this is a fraction of cranberry production. Because of this methodology, we we have to pick through our cranberries before they can be cooked. 
  • Sometimes along with the cranberry you’ll a fine and hard thread-like stem attached to the berry. This is harmless, but not a great addition to cranberry sauce because while my dog would think adding sticks to cranberry sauce would be an improvement, most humans don’t agree! 
  • To sort the berries, pour them onto one side of a sheet pan. Push some of the berries across the sheet pan as you visually scan for stems or berries that have become wrinkled or are not fully red yet. This is the same method I use to sort beans, and it makes it so much easier to see the foreign objects. 

Lower Sugar Cranberry Sauce

Add Fresh Fruit For Natural Sweetness: In order to reduce the amount of sugar added to the cranberry sauce, I used fresh chopped apples to “cut” the tartness of the cranberries. When they cook together with the berries, the apple chunks become soft and blend right in, making the sauce naturally sweeter. That way I only had to use 1/2 cup of added brown sugar to sweeten the sauce.

What Variety of Apples To Use: I like to use Cortland apples for this sauce because they don’t break down too much, but they do soften enough in the 5 mintes of cooking time. Golden apples would also be a good choice for this recipe. 

Sub in Unrefined Sweetener: I used brown sugar in this recipe, but if you prefer to use an unrefined sugar, I recommend using pure maple syrup (preferably dark. robust.) I love the way the maple tastes in pretty much everything, and cranberry sauce is no exception. Another option would be to use honey instead of brown sugar. I love the way honey and orange go together, so that would be a really lovely combination. Either choice would be great- you’ll want to sub in 1:1 for the brown sugar- just 1/2 cup. 

Cook the Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice

  • Using water for cranberry sauce is a missed opportunity for flavor in my opinion. In this sauce I opted for orange juice (1/2 cup) to simmer the cranberries and apples, and it makes the sauce taste more sweet and fruity. Other juices that you can use instead of water are cranberry juice, cherry juice or apple cider. You can also use alcohol (in small amounts, such as port like Marcy does here in her cranberry sauce with port and pear, or hard cider or red wine cranberry sauce like EatingWell made!  
  • The purpose of the juice is to give the cranberries something to simmer in, so they can cook and break down. Otherwise they would burn! 
  • I recommend using a good quality heavy bottom saucepan to make this sauce to prevent the brown sugar and juice from scorching. 
  • Stir the brown sugar (or maple syrup or honey) the juice, some allspice (for a unique cranberry sauce flavor) and the berries in a saucepan, and then set them over medium heat. You’ll want to stir the mixture as it warms up so the brown sugar can dissolve. Pretty much as soon as the mixture starts to simmer, the berries will start to pop and burst. You’ll hear it! Keep cooking it until about half the berries are popped. Then remove it from the heat. 

a side view of cranberry sauce in a white farmhouse pottery bowl

Add Orange Zest and Orange Segments To The Cooked Cranberry Sauce 

After the cranberry sauce is cooked and you take it off the heat, add in fresh orange zest. Watch my video to see how to do so. I recommend a microplane zester to make fine and fluffy orange zest. Do this part first, as you can’t easily zest an orange after it’s been cut.

You’ll also want to wait until the cranberry sauce is cooked before you add in the fresh orange segments. This is also known as how to supreme an orange. I put together this quick video to show you how I supreme an orange. 


How to supreme an orange for Cranberry Sauce
  1. After zesting the orange, cut the ends of the orange off. Cut the peel off.
  2. Cut in between the sections with a sharp knife. I like to use my tomato knife for this, but a regular paring knife works well too. 
  3. Working over a bowl, cut between the segments, leaving the membrane behind and catch the segments in the bowl. Once you remove all of the segments, squeeze the juice from the membrane into the bowl.
  4. If you like to be frugal, you can cut down on one side, then turn your knife and pry the segments off the membrane on the other side to make less waste. 

Notes For Making Cranberry Sauce Ahead

This cranberry sauce can be made five days in advance. The oranges will be stained red by the cranberries but the flavor and texture will be great.  

More Cranberry Recipes To Make This Holiday Season


Thanks so much for reading. If you make this recipe, please come back and let me know by leaving a star rating and review. It helps so much! 

Happy Cooking!


clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Cranberry Sauce overhead and close up with oranges

Cranberry Sauce with Oranges


Here is a gourmet way to make homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange. Cook the whole fresh cranberries with apples, orange juice, allspice and less sugar than traditional sauces. Then add in fresh orange zest and orange segments at the end for a fresh and unique cranberry sauce to share on Thanksgiving.


  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, picked and rinsed
2 apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch salt
  • 1 orange


  1. Stir together cranberries, apples, brown sugar, orange juice, allspice and salt in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Continue cooking, stirring often until the cranberries have popped and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, zest orange. To supreme the orange: Cut skin and white pith off the orange. Cut between membranes to remove individual segments, working all the way around the orange. Gently stir the zest and orange segments into the compote. Discard orange membrane and peel. Cool compote completely, about 2 hours.


You can use frozen cranberries instead of fresh, simply cook a little longer in step one, until the cranberries thaw and then start to pop and burst.

This cranberry sauce can be frozen, though the apples will lose some of their texture and become a little mushy as a result.

This can be made up to 5 days ahead. Store in a resealable container in the refrigerator.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup
  • Calories: 53 cal
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13 g
  • Fiber: 1 g

Keywords: cranberry sauce with orange,unique cranberry sauce,gourmet cranberry sauce,lower sugar cranberry sauce

cranberry sauce with orange segments

A bowl of food on a table, with Cranberry