Zesty Cranberry Sauce

Did you know cranberry sauce can be made days ahead of time!? So make it this weekend and it’s one less thing to worry about come Thanksgiving day!

Zesty Cranberry Sauce from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Here’s the deal, I love taking a shortcut from the store but I draw the line at cranberry sauce. It’s embarrassingly easy to make. So let’s get it out of the way this weekend and then keep it refrigerated until the big day on Thursday. According to Thomas, cranberry is the most important part of the side dish game on Thanksgiving. (I’m partial to gravy) but hey, to each their own! This recipe is literally 5 ingredients and takes almost no time to whip up.

PS – are you thinking of putting this on your Thanksgiving menu? Check out the full What’s Gaby Cooking menu here along with the master prep schedule to keep things organized and on track!
Zesty Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 7 minutes

Total Time: 9 minutes

Yield: Serves 6-8

Zesty Cranberry Sauce


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. In a large pot combine the equal parts water and sugar and bring to a boil until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the fresh cranberries, turn heat to medium low, and let simmer until the cranberries start to gently pop, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add the orange zest and nutmeg. Transfer to a serving bowl and let cool. The cranberry sauce will thicken as it continues to cool.

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  1. I just love fresh cranberry sauce & could eat it all year long. Love the idea of adding it to muffin batter 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving! xo

  2. Wow, what a sauce! Unfortunately, I was a kid who loved the canned junk, but I’m starting to “class up” my taste for cranberry sauce as an adult, haha! This looks beautiful and full of flavor, Gaby. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  3. Gaby – could this recipe be made a day or two ahead of time or would you recommend making it the day of? Thanks!!

    1. you can totally make it ahead of time and take it out the day of Thanksgiving! That’s what I always do 🙂

  4. Should this sauce be thick? I’ve had it in the fridge for 24 hours and it didn’t thicken up that much.

    1. ya it should be thick – you could cook it down for 15-20 minutes to thicken it up if needed and then pop it back in the fridge!

  5. Thanks for this great make ahead recipe! I just finished mine today and excited to serve on Thanksgiving.

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