Cranberry Sauce

(Last Updated On: 25 January 2021)

This five-ingredient cranberry sauce is sticky and sweet, with a hint of bitterness. It captures EVERYTHING a stress-free, festive homemade cranberry sauce should. It’s simple, tasty and moreish. It’s the perfect partner in crime for either your turkey, homemade seitan log or Christmas nut roast.

I think it’s fair to say it’s taken me years to perfect this cranberry sauce recipe. Up until now, they were either too bitter or too sweet. I’ve tried adding wine, port and brandy, maybe I was going TOO BIG, but it’s Christmas, the holiday season, nothing is ever TOO BIG. I was wrong. This simple recipe needs just five ingredients. 

Vibrant Red cranberry sauce on a teaspoon

Christmas Preparations

This year has absolutely flown for a year that’s been so, well, 2020. I’ve completed all my recipe development for this year. That means my cooking for The Accidental Chef has finished for 2020, and an inaugural year. That’s not to say we’re out of recipes, this week is going to be a bumper week for recipes over here on The Accidental Chef. 

We’re already got some of the Christmas Dinner side dishes up on the blog. The Christmas Red Cabbage recipe ties in nicely with the simple cranberry sauce we’re making today, those orange notes carry gorgeously through both dishes. Is Cranberry sauce a dish? Probably not, it should be, but still no. 

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have your entire Christmas menu planned out already. If your holiday plan doesn’t include honey roast carrots and cauliflower and broccoli cheese, then you should revisit that plan ASAP. 

If you’re having a little bit of a different Christmas this year, like many, many will be, consider reading this awesome blog post about how to have a stress free Christmas dinner.


As I said early this recipe requires just 5 ingredients, you’ll need:

  • 200g of fresh cranberries
  • 1 big orange – you need the zest of half of it, and the juice of the whole thing
  • 3 sage leaves – finely chop these dudes.
  • 4 tablespoons of light brown sugar
  • 100ml cold water

That is it, that’s all you NEED. Having said that, there is an optional extra. You COULD add 50ml of Port, for example, that’d be a lovely boozy bonus. If you wanted to amp up the sweetness, you could replace the 100ml of cold water with 100ml of cranberry juice.

ingredients for cranberry sauce
Bowl of cranberries

How to make Cranberry Sauce? 

This recipe couldn’t be any simpler. Start by adding the water, sugar and juice of the orange into a saucepan and warm the contents over medium heat. As soon as the sugar has fully dissolved add the remaining ingredients to the pan, and season.

The cranberries will begin to pop and burst open – it’s the most exciting part.

Allow everything to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, and then remove from the heat. This simple cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. Speaking of which, you should allow the sauce to cool slightly and then check the taste. If you find that the cranberry sauce is a little too bitter for your liking, add additional sugar or salt (or both) until you’ve reached your desired taste profile.

MAKE SURE; you check the cranberry sauce whilst it’s still warm otherwise the additional sugar may not dissolve and you won’t have fixed the issue.

Allow to cool completely, before transferring to a container to keep in the fridge.

Ramekin containing recipe on a cream linen, next to some sage leaves and fresh cranberries

How long does homemade cranberry last?

Ideally, you’ll keep this fresh, popping sauce for no longer than 7 days, but you could almost definitely keep it in a sealed container, in the fridge, for up to 2 weeks, no bother.

White ramekin containing recipe, in front are whole berries

What to do with left over cranberry sauce?

Well, I’m glad you asked, I’ve got TWO cracking recipes that contain leftover cranberry sauce, surely that’s enough, right? How much cranberry sauce are you making?

The first are these Spicy Brussel Sprouts, they were dubbed Gochujang x Cranberry Sprouts in the notes app, but I don’t think that would have been very search engine efficient. They are sweet, smokey and intensely savoury thanks to the Korean spice paste, gochujang.

The second is Boxing Day buffet-worthy pork, black pudding and cranberry sausage rolls. These are a TREAT, smother them in mustard or pile high alongside all that leftover cheeseboard stilton, yessum, please!

Ok fine – here’s a bonus 12 ways to use leftover cranberry sauce courtesy of Cook The Story.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into the world of simple, festive condiments. If you’ve really enjoyed your stay then perhaps you’ll consider subscribing to my newsletter? My newsletter hasn’t been sent particularly frequently this year, so I can absolutely guarantee that you won’t be spammed my little old me. Top of my 2021 list is CONNECT WITH Y’ALL.

You can connect with me in all the usual places too – Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

However you are spending Christmas this year, be safe, healthy and please don’t feel pressured to go anywhere if you don’t want to. Be kind to yourself, and cherish the moments we are getting to spend with loved ones in this wild, wild year.

Catch you next time.

Cranberry Sauce

Christmas in a pan! This Cranberry Sauce recipe is spiked with orange and sage, and that's about it. A super simple, quick and tasty recipe.
Servings 3 x 110 gram servings
Prep Time 1 min
Cook Time 25 mins


  • 200 g cranberries
  • 1 orange Juice of whole orange, zest of half
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 4 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 100 ml cold water
  • salt + pepper


  • Gently heat water, orange juice and brown together over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the washed cranberries, finely chopped sage leaves and zest of half the orange. The cranberries will pop and burst open as they heat, allow the whole mix to come to a simmer.
  • Simmer the mixture for 15 – 20 minutes until it has thickened, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Allow to cool completely being decanting into a cotainer until ready to serve.


Want something a bit more adult? Add 50ml of Port along with the water and orange juice at the beginning. 
If you REALLY love cranberries try replacing the water with cranberry juice.
If you find your sauce is too bitter add extra light brown sugar or salt whilst the mixture is still warm until you reach your desired flavour profile. 
Calories: 112kcal
Course: Sauce/ Condiment
Cuisine: Christmas Recipes, Sauce/ Condiment
Keyword: Christmas, gluten free, One-pot Cooking, vegan
In Season: December


Serving: 110g | Calories: 112kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 395mg | Potassium: 157mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 138IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg

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