Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe for Canning or Freezing

Reader Contribution by Carole Cancler
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Prepare your cranberry relish chunky or blend for a smooth sauce and add spicy accents as desired. My favorite preparation is to cook cranberries simply with fresh orange juice, orange zest, and sugar. If you like more complex flavors, try one of the variations suggested at the end of the recipe: cranberry-walnut relish, spiced cranberry sauce, or cranberry sauce with chipotle.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe


• 2 cups fresh cranberries
• 1/4 cup water or orange juice
• 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest (optional)
• 1 cup sugar, or to taste


1. Wash cranberries in a basin of water; lift them out of the water and place in a colander to drain. Repeat washing process two or three times, or until no more debris is left behind in the wash basin.

2. In a large saucepan, add cranberries and water or orange juice. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until skins split.

3. Leave berries whole, or purée to desired consistency using a food processor or blender. If very smooth sauce is desired, press through a food mill or wire mesh strainer.

4. Return sauce to the pan, add sugar, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 3 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved.

5. Cool, cover, and refrigerate up to 7 days. For longer storage, can or freeze the sauce.

Makes about 1 pint. Recipe may be multiplied.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe Variations

For cranberry-walnut relish: To the cranberries and orange juice, add 1/2 unpeeled, seeded, and finely chopped orange and 2 tablespoons raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries. Cook for 15 minutes, or until orange peels are tender and sauce has thickened. Add sugar and 2 tablespoons chopped, roasted walnuts. Boil for 3 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. This recipe may be canned.

For cranberry sauce with chipotle: Add to the basic recipe 1/4 cup minced shallot, 2 finely chopped canned chipotle in adobo sauce, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin; cook these ingredients with the cranberries. Then add sugar and boil until sugar is dissolved. This variation contains low acid ingredients and has not been tested for canning; however cranberry-chipotle sauce freezes very successfully.

For spiced cranberry sauce: To the basic recipe or any variation, add 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice; or use 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1⁄8 teaspoon ground allspice (or any combination of these spices).

How To Can Cranberry Sauce

1. After boiling sauce to dissolve sugar completely, reduce heat to medium, or as needed to prevent sauce from sticking. Keep sauce hot while filling canning jars. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace to 1/4 inch. Clean the rim and secure the lid with a screw band. Place filled jars in a water bath canner. Be sure jars are covered with hot water by at least one inch.

2. Cover the canner and bring water to a full rolling boil over high heat and process half-pints or pints for 15 minutes (at 0 to 1,000 feet). After processing time has ended, turn off heat, remove canner lid and cool 5 minutes.

3. After cooling period, place jars at least one-inch apart on a dry towel or wood surface away from drafts. Cool the jars naturally for 12 to 24 hours.

4. Remove the screw band, hold the jar steady and try to lift the lid off using your fingertips. If you cannot lift the lid off by pulling on the lid, the seal is good. If jars do not have a good seal, refrigerate and use the product within 7 days.

5. If the jar is sealed, wipe with a clean damp cloth, including the bottom, sides, threads, and lid. If there is a lot of sticky deposit, it is sometimes easier to rinse the jar under warm running water. Dry the jar. Label each jar with the product and date (for example, “Cran Sauce 2015”). Store jars in a cool dry place (50 degrees FAhrenheit to 70 degrees). Best used within one year.

How To Freeze Cranberry Sauce

Chill sauce thoroughly in the refrigerator. Package cranberry sauce into freezer-safe containers (rigid freezer-safe plastic containers, canning or tempered glass jars with straight necks that won’t crack in the freezer, or thick zipper-style freezer plastic bags). Freeze cranberry sauce up to 12 months.

Carole Cancler is the author of The Home Preserving Bible. She has traveled to more than 20 countries on four continents to attend cooking schools and explore food markets. She studies the anthropology of food with a focus on how indigenous foods have traveled and been integrated into world cuisine. Read all of Carole’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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