Make humble cranberry sauce the star of the show with this homemade spiced cranberry sauce recipe! Warm spices like cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cloves make this sauce perfect for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I know it doesn't get any easier than picking up a can of store-bought cranberry sauce. But after you make your own, I think you'll never look back!
Here's why you'll love homemade cranberry sauce:
- It's quick and easy to make with minimal effort and just a few ingredients.
- Homemade cranberry sauce is so much better than store-bought! It's fresh, and it has a balanced sweet/tart flavor profile. Also, you can customize it to suite your tastes.
- You can store it covered in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. I use it like jam throughout the holiday season!
This spiced cranberry sauce has just the right sweetness level, and the perfect amount of warm spices. We use a unique blend of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cloves, and it smells like the holidays as it's cooking. (It's a natural simmer pot, no inedible potpourri needed!)
Cranberry sauce with warm spices is a great option for your Thanksgiving spread. And it's also perfect for Christmas if you're making roast turkey, roast chicken, or Cornish hens.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce Ingredients
In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.
- Fresh cranberries - frozen cranberries will also work fine here
- Sugar - in this recipe sugar adds sweetness and also helps create the perfect jam-like texture for our cranberry sauce
- Water - feel free to use apple juice, apple cider, or orange juice instead of water here
- Cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cloves - these warm spices add a ton of festive flavor and aroma; they're what make this spiced cranberry sauce something truly special
- Salt - so our cranberry sauce isn't bland
How to Make Spiced Cranberry Sauce
- Add everything to a medium saucepan.
- Give it a quick stir.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down slightly so it doesn’t boil over. Cover the pot and simmer until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- This is how the sauce looks when it's finished. If you have any whole cranberries left, you can use a potato masher to briefly mash the sauce. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.
Orange Spiced Cranberry Sauce Variation
If you like the cranberry orange flavor combination, you won't want to miss this easy twist! Spiced cranberry sauce laced with orange is festive and absolutely delicious.
Here are the changes you need to make to the recipe below:
- Use orange juice instead of water (fresh-squeezed orange juice if possible!).
- Reduce the sugar to ¾ cup.
- Stir in 1 tablespoon of fresh orange zest as soon as you remove the sauce from the heat.
Store homemade cranberry sauce covered in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months. (I like to use glass containers for storing cranberry sauce.)
Spiced Cranberry Sauce Recipe FAQs
What Spices Go Well with Cranberries?
- Cinnamon - the classic warm spice
- Allspice - this spice isn't a spice blend; allspice is its own thing, but it tastes like a combination of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon
- Cloves - cloves are a strong, pungent spice with an astringent quality, so a little bit goes a long way; I always think of cloves as the "Christmas spice", and they definitely lend a festive flavor and aroma to this spiced cranberry sauce recipe (heads-up, this cranberry sauce is as perfect for Christmas as it is for Thanksgiving!)
- Ginger - the spicy, peppery, somewhat citrusy flavor of ginger pairs perfectly with tart cranberries
- Cayenne pepper - we don't add cayenne pepper to this recipe, but if you want cranberry sauce with a touch of spicy heat (similar to the flavor profile of pepper jelly), feel free to add up to ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
How Do You Firm Up Cranberry Sauce?
First let me say, you don't need to add anything to cranberry sauce to make it firm up. (There's no need for cornstarch slurry, gelatin, or added pectin! Cranberries are naturally high in pectin, which helps cranberry sauce gel, along with the correct amount of sugar.)
To get cranberry sauce to set with a jammy texture, all you need to do is let it cook on the stovetop. If you like your cranberry sauce on the runny side, 10 minutes is perfect. For a really thick sauce, go with 20 minutes. And for somewhere in between, 15 minutes is the magic number.
Also, remember that cranberry sauce will thicken more as it cools!
Recipes That Use Cranberry Sauce
Spiced Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, turn the heat down slightly so it doesn’t boil over. Cover the pot and simmer until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes. (The sauce will thicken more as it cools.)
- Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 2 cups of cranberry sauce, or 8 (¼-cup) servings.
- Storage: Store homemade cranberry sauce covered in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months. (I like to use glass containers for storing cranberry sauce.)