Making Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

I guess you could say this post is a bit early, but actually, it isn’t for me.

No, I’m not an overzealous feast planner that feels the need to make cranberry sauce three weeks before the actual meal. Trust me, I know that’d be a little much and if you know me, I’m quite the opposite of that person.

You see, this year my family and I are having an early Thanksgiving. We’re getting together to celebrate and feast THIS Sunday, so you might even say we’re a little bit behind. Naturally, there’s a reason for this (other than spontaneity) but perhaps I’ll get into that at a later date.

On to the cranberry sauce, which just so happens to be my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal.

There is something about cranberry sauce. Whether it be the canned jellied kind, or the homemade whole berry, it’s not Thanksgiving without it. Some think it’s too sweet, but I think it the perfect complement to a plate full of turkey, squash, sweet potatoes, stuffing or what have you. Not only does it taste delicious with every other part of the meal, but for that same exact reason it becomes the unifier of the plate of food an entire country looks forward to eating at the same time of year.

That’s some powerful stuff. When else does every family (give or take) in the continent of North America eat the same thing for dinner? Even though Canadians celebrate in October, and Americans feast in November, that’s a whole lot of cranberries sold in just two fall months. I should be investing in Ocean Spray stock right around now and sell my shares come December.

Maybe you disagree and I’m not here to talk you out of your own opinion, so suffice it to say that cranberries, in whatever form, are important to have at the Thanksgiving table.

And making your own cranberry sauce is much easier than you’d ever imagine. I used to think my mom slaved in the kitchen all day when she made it. That is, until I made it with her last night. We used the Traditional Cranberry Sauce recipe (without the cinnamon sticks) and after putting your ingredients in the pot, the cranberries pretty much do the work for you.

Simple yet so delicious.

Traditional Cranberry Sauce

Please note that you can always use a sugar substitute in place of the sugar for a lower-calorie sauce.


24 oz. fresh or frozen whole cranberries, washed (2 pkg. Ocean Spray cranberries)
2 C. sugar or sugar substitute
2 C. water
2 whole cinnamon sticks


Mix sugar and water in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve sugar and add cinnamon sticks. Bring to boil, add cranberries, return to boil, reduce heat. Gently stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the berries begin to pop. Remove from heat. Cool completely at room temperature and refrigerate.

So, I poured the sugar into the water.

I stirred, stirred, and stirred until the liquid became a clear sugar water.

We added the cranberries and stirred a whole lot more until…

The liquid began to soak up the color from the cranberries:

Eventually we closed the pot to let it simmer:

And then we came out with glorious concoction:

So simple and so delicious.

-Hillary, encouraging everyone to submit their Thanksgiving recipes to the contest!
Editor, Recipe4Living

Tags: , , ,

  • Kelly

    Food & Wine has a fantastic cranberry sauce recipe (with port and orange juice) — I made it for the first time last year and it became an instant “regular” to our long-standing traditional T’giving menu.

  • Kelly
  • Hillary

    Thanks for the link Kelly! Sounds delicious!! I actually do love orange flavors in my cranberry sauce as well.

  • Sue

    I have been making cranberries this way since I used to make them with my grandmother 40 years ago! I always make a lot and freeze them for year round use. I love Thanksgiving!!

  • Hillary

    Sue – :). That sounds like a good idea. I love Thanksgiving too! It’s definitely up there as a favorite.

  • JEP

    It’s amazing the # of diifferent cranberry sauce recipes out there! I’ve made a few variations but can always count on most of my guests enjoying the Ocean Spray recipe on the back of the package.

  • Pingback: Chew On That » Blog Archive » Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

  • Lydia

    I always make cranberry sauce this way, but I usually add some orange zest to it. Gives a nice balance of flavor and aroma. Enjoy your early Thanksgiving.

  • Judy

    I always make my cranberry sauce by the Ocean Spray recipe, but I am going to try it with the orange zest in it this year. That sounded good.

  • sandra

    sound delicious hillary!!!

  • Fredrick Koester

    If you add the zest of one whole orange, reduce the water by 1/2 cup, and add the juice from the orange, you will have a fabulous orange flavored cranberry cauce

  • http://Recipe4Living Gail

    I have found my family likes oceanspray cranberrys made into a molded salad with fruit.

  • tigerfish

    This actually reminded me of Thai dessert called Rubi.

    With this sauce, I need to find a turkey next.

  • Hillary

    JEP, The Ocean Spray recipe is pretty convenient since it’s right there while you cook no matter what!

    Lydia – The orange zest is a great flavor for cranberry sauce and with all of these comments, I’m regretting that we didn’t add some more and more. It still turned out delicious though!

    Judy – Definitely go for it! I have had cranberry sauce with orange zest before even though we didn’t use it this year, and it’s delicious!

    Sandra – Thank you Sandra! And thanks for commenting!

    Frederick – Thanks for the suggestion. Now I’m REALLY using orange next time!

    Gail – Molded salad, eh? I’m not sure what you mean. But since it involves cranberries, I’m all for it!

    Tigerfish – Oh? I’ve never heard of this Thai dessert. Thanks for sharing. The cranberries actually reminded me of rubies while they were cooking. They had such a pretty color!

  • melissa

    I think I’m going to use this for my first all homemade goodness thanksgiving. thanks hillary!

  • Pingback: Chew On That » Blog Archive » Early Thanksgiving

  • Pingback: Chew On That » Blog Archive » Early Thanksgiving Pt. 2: A closer look at the food

  • Pat Adams

    I used a simple recipe for cauliflower and my large family cannot get enough, I have been known to cook 14 heads of fresh cauliflower at a time! This is a big tradition for Thanksgiving dinner and one the children fight over. The first pot lid to come off for a peek is the cauliflower! Even before cake inspection! In fact some of the kids will pass up pie or cake to come back for the last of the pot of cauliflower! My family includes 7 children, their spouses, 20 grandchildren, and 12 & 1/2 great-grands (at least I think that’s all right now! HA!)

  • Terri

    Dear Pat Adams: You wrote about a cauliflower dish that everyone fights over….I’m looking for a delicious simple cauliflower recipe, would you mind sharing your recipe please? Thanks!


  • Geri Kozinko

    I would like to have the cauliflower recipe also. and I will be trying the whole cranberry recipe instead of canned jellied this year. Thanks so much!

  • Judith Stapleton

    I would love to have Pat’s cauliflower recipe. Thanks, Judith

  • Marjorie Schneider

    Homemade Cranberry Sauce

    I add diced oranges and apples to my sugar and cranberries.

    You can peel the apples, I do about half of them. It ends up being about 1/3 of each fruit. Letting it set overnight helps the flavors blend into one fantastic dish. Sometimes I just open the fridge after dinner and take a spoonful !

  • Hillary

    Melissa – Yay! I’m so excited for you. Let me know how it goes :)

    Pat – Sounds AMAZING. Please share.

    Pat fans (Terri, Geri, and Judith) – I’ve requested he come visit again and send us the recipe! Hopefully he will!

    Marjorie – Orange AND apples… my my my. Delicious!

  • Patsy Adams

    Simple Cauliflower
    1 or 2 large heads fresh cauliflower
    2 cups shredded American Cheese (Must be plain old American!!)
    1/4 cup milk
    1/2 stick margerine
    Cut cauliflower from stalk, if individual pieces are too large, cut into
    bite sized pieces. Place in large pot with lid. Need lid to hold heat after
    cooking, fill with enough water to cover flowerets. Add 1 tablespoon salt.
    Bring to boil and allow to simmer until fork tender. Do not cook until overdone!
    Drain water, leaving cauliflower in the pot, add margerine, cover with grated
    cheese. Add milk, replace lid and sit pot back on hot burner. Turn off flame and
    wait for 5 or so minutes, Open pot, stir melted cheese to get cauliflower coated.
    This makes PERFECT cheese sauce and the kids think it’s candy!! But only if you
    use American Cheese. Nothing else works! I had a hard time cutting this down so
    if you need more cheese try it or less milk, but it will not fail no mater how you try!
    Enjoy! And I’m a Patsy not a man.

  • Patsy Adams

    One other comment: My eldest son, who loves to cook tried this with frozen cauliflower and it was horrible! Please use fresh heads and pare away! Just remember the cook gets the stalk (and that’s the best part)

  • Patsy Adams

    Did I do this right? I haven’t seen a comment on it yet!

  • Hillary

    Pat – Yes you did it right! :) Thank you for posting it! The people who requested it will see it eventually, if they haven’t already.

  • Patsy Adams

    Hillary, one other recipe that my family loves at Thanksgiving is Pineapple Salad, Since my family is so large we can’t serve individual salads on plates, so I use one large bowl and make a salad you can spoon on youe plate along with Turkey and dressing,
    Pineapple Salad
    2 large cans pineapple chunks or use tidbits if you prefer
    2 cups finely grated American cheese
    1 cup Helmans Mayo
    Drain Pineapple, grate cheese on smallest size grater, throw into bowl with mayo and stir! That’s all folks! And it’s guaranteed to have requests for the recipe! I refridgerate mine for a day before serving, so prep doesn’t run into Turkey time! Much better taste too. Be sure you buy the large American Cheese so you have plenty for this recipe and the cauliflower! No other cheese will do!

  • Pingback: Alpinestars M4 Gloves

  • Animal

    Could someone tell me how to use a recipe like these (whole cranberries, orange peel, and I’m thinking …raspberries?) in a mold? My Grannies old Better Homes and Gardens cook book suggests that you can do it with out gelatin or extra cran juice. I could use some help, dont want a messy pile. Thanks.

  • Margaret Slaney

    I saw a recipe on your show last week and I can”t fine it on your web. You Had Whole cranberry and apple, dry cranberry, with tapioca with a topping oatmel and flour and what ?

    your fan ,,,,,

LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs