Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This tangy, sweet homemade cranberry sauce with lemon trumps anything you can buy at the store.

Do you know how easy it is to make cranberry sauce? If you can boil water, I promise you can make cranberry sauce.

Homemade cranberry sauce in white bowl with ladle

For years, I bought cranberry sauce in a can and my husband and boys ate every last bit of it. They clearly enjoy cranberry sauce. We even bought an extra can or two every year, just for the leftovers.

I love so many other cranberry recipes, from cranberry apple pie to Christmas cake, cranberry jalapeno dip to cranberry pancakes. But cranberry sauce? That was never my thing. It was only ever something we had for the boys in the house – until now.

Cranberry Sauce with Lemon

About a dozen years ago, that changed for me. I tried a sandwich that stacked turkey with cranberry sauce and I fell in love with the combination.

It was not a sugary sweet cranberry sauce, it was tangy and just a bit sweet at the same time. I now understand why so many people think it just isn’t Thanksgiving without the cranberry sauce.

I’ve made cranberry sauce a few different ways over the past 10 or so years, but this cranberry sauce with lemon is my favorite version. This is the easiest of the Thanksgiving side dishes to make ahead of time for the holidays too.

cranberry sauce in saucepan

How to Make Cranberry Sauce

You’ll need the following ingredients to make this recipe:

  • cranberries
  • water
  • sugar
  • salt
  • fresh lemon juice

Fresh or frozen cranberries may be used to make cranberry sauce. I typically toss the fresh cranberries in the freezer when I get home from the store

strain the cranberry sauce for a smooth result

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

When the cranberries start to pop, the sauce is done. Cool completely and then place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Most of the time, I prefer a smooth sauce, so I often press the cooked mixture through a strainer while it is still warm. It’s easy enough to do and if you’re a house divided, you can strain just half of the sauce.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce on wooden table with floral napkin

How Long Does Homemade Cranberry Sauce Last?

Cranberry sauce can be made a week in advance and then stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until it is needed. Homemade cranberry sauce will last 10-14 days in the refrigerator.

I typically make our cranberry sauce the week before Thanksgiving. The convenience and ease of prepping side dishes in advance of Thanksgiving Day can’t be overstated.

Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

Yes, you can! Homemade cranberry sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator and stir it before serving.

Want a stress-free Thanksgiving dinner? Find out what you can make-ahead and follow the timeline to get it all done on time!

Are you a list maker? Do you love having a plan for everything and then checking things off? If so, this post is for you.

cranberry sauce in saucepan

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

5 from 2 votes

This tangy, sweet homemade cranberry sauce trumps anything you can buy at the store.

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Prep Time: 5 minutes mins

Cook Time: 10 minutes mins

Total Time: 15 minutes mins

Servings: 12 servings (about 3 cups worth)

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  • ▢ 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ▢ 1 cup water
  • ▢ 1 cup sugar
  • ▢ ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ▢ 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice about half a lemon's worth


  • Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

  • When the cranberries start to pop, the sauce is done. Cool completely and then place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

  • For a smooth sauce, place a mesh strainer over a large bowl and press the hot cooked sauce through it. Use the back of a wooden spoon or a large spatula to do this. Scrape the underside of the strainer as you do this, there will be a lot of sauce there too.


Calories: 77kcal · Carbohydrates: 20g · Protein: 0.1g · Fat: 0.1g · Saturated Fat: 0.003g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g · Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g · Sodium: 50mg · Potassium: 24mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 18g · Vitamin A: 17IU · Vitamin C: 4mg · Calcium: 3mg · Iron: 0.1mg

Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 11/18/11 – recipe notes and photos updated 11/22/23}

bright red cranberry sauce in white bowl with silver spoon

Hi, I’m Mohamed. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I’ve been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food on the blog because I believe in a balanced diet.

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