Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce

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Looking for a fun and easy way to jazz up your holiday table? This zesty cranberry sauce is the perfect solution! It's simple to make and bursting with delicious flavor. Plus, it's the perfect addition to any cocktail party. So why not give it a try? Your guests will love it!

Also, did you know cranberry sauce can be made days ahead of time!? So make it this weekend so you can focus on the turkey come Thanksgiving day!

A table full of thanksgiving dishes such as cranberry sauce, gravy, squash, salad, and glasses of wine.


 

Why I Love This Recipe

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. Some key things to keep in mind...

Ingredients & Substitutions

mise-en-place with all the ingredients required to make cranberry sauce.
  • brown sugar
  • water
  • fresh cranberries
  • orange zest
  • nutmeg

*For a full list of ingredients and instructions please see recipe card below

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

White medium saucepan with water and sugar.

Step 1: In a large pot combine the equal parts water and sugar and bring to a boil until the sugar has dissolved.

White medium saucepan with water, sugar and cranberries

Step 2: Add the fresh cranberries, turn heat to medium low, and let simmer until the cranberries start to gently pop, about 10-15 minutes.

White medium saucepan with cooked cranberries in water and sugar topped with nutmeg and orange zest.

Step 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.

How to Store Cranberry Sauce

You can store this in a container in the fridge for 10-14 days! I don't heat it up before serving, just let it come to room temperature.

How to Freeze Cranberry Sauce

For freezing, use a container or a freezer bag. It stays for months in the freezer. I recommend creating smaller chunks, so you can thaw just however much you need. I will let it completely thaw and let it come to room temperature.

Tips & Tricks

Make this recipe a week before to check one thing off your Thanksgiving menu and avoid buying the canned stuff!!

FAQs

What does cranberry sauce go with?

Depends who you ask but for our family, it's mostly eaten on Thanksgiving with the Turkey!

Can cranberry sauce be frozen?

Sure can! I've stored it for a few months in the freezer no problem.

How long does cranberry sauce keep?

10-14 days in the fridge! Months in the freezer.

How far in advance can cranberry sauce be made?

I make it about a week before. This weekend leading up to Thanksgiving is a great time to prep the cranberry sauce. It'll only take you a few minutes and it's one less thing to worry about day of!

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!

And if you need more Thanksgiving Ideas check out this roundup of 80+ Thanksgiving Recipes and Ideas.

Pairs Well With

If you tried this recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting today!

Zesty Cranberry Sauce

Author: Gaby Dalkin
5 from 8 votes
Looking for a fun and easy way to jazz up your holiday table? This zesty cranberry sauce is the perfect solution! It’s simple to make and bursting with delicious flavor. Plus, it’s the perfect addition to any cocktail party.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 9 minutes
Course Side Dish, sauce
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot combine the equal parts water and sugar and bring to a boil until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the fresh cranberries, turn heat to medium low, and let simmer until the cranberries start to gently pop, about 10-15 minutes.
  • 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.

Notes

Can cranberry sauce be frozen?

Sure can! I’ve stored it for a few months in the freezer no problem.

Do you heat up cranberry sauce?

I don’t heat it up before serving, but if it has been previously frozen, I will completely thaw it out and let it come to room temperature. Same thing if you made it and refrigerated it for a few days… let it come to room temperature before serving.

How long does cranberry sauce keep?

10-14 days in the fridge! Months in the freezer

Nutrition Information

Calories: 129kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 78mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 32IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @WhatsGabyCookin or tag #whatsgabycooking!

Photo by Matt Armendariz / Food Styling by Adam Pearson / Recipe by What’s Gaby Cooking

48 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    All I can say is yum yum yum!! How can you eat the canned stuff after trying this. Sooo easy and so good. I used the dark brown sugar and I love it. Gabby to the rescue (again)!!!

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