First off, I’d just like to say that there is nothing wrong with canned cranberry sauce. But there is also nothing quite like homemade, whole berry cranberry sauce.
Canned vs homemade
Tons of people prefer canned cranberry sauce to homemade, especially those who grew up with it. And I respect that. I once read an entertaining tongue-in-cheek article in New York Magazine’s “The Cut” that was preaching the joys of canned, jellied cranberry sauce and saying that only fools waste time on making homemade cranberry sauce. I found it pretty funny And jokes aside, I definitely appreciate the charm of tipping that cylinder of jelly out of the tin. It holds its shape in a way that is so perfect and classic.
As someone who grew up with homemade fresh cranberry sauce (I’ve never made frozen either), I guess I’m biased, but I think homemade, whole berry cranberry sauce is the clear winner. It’s delicious and tangy and super easy to make, and I love the satisfying popping process that happens as the cranberries cook. And you don’t need to look too hard to find the best fresh cranberry sauce recipe, because it’s written right on the back of the bag.
Simple is best
In this video, I’ve taken the recipe straight from the instructions on the bag and added orange juice and zest, but you can definitely leave those out if you prefer. Over the years I’ve cranked out plenty of different spins on the back-of-bag cranberry sauce. I’ve made chutneys, relishes, and compotes… I’ve added spices, onions, and other things. But in the end, the straight-up fresh cranberry sauce, (or cranberry sauce with orange juice) is all I really want. I think adding too many other ingredients just kinda messes with it. It’s the perfectly sweet, sour tang that wakes up everything else on your turkey dinner table.
Make it well in advance
The sauce will look really very runny and liquidy when it’s hot. The pectin in the cranberries only really sets up after some time in the fridge. So, make your cranberry sauce in advance, pour it into whatever dishes you’re going to serve it in, and stick it in the fridge for up to a week or more.
Raw cranberry sauce?
In the video above, I mention another method for fresh cranberry sauce that I’ve seen around the internet (but never made) which is a raw cranberry sauce. In this method, as shown in this article from The Spruce Eats, you put sugar, cranberries, and a whole orange (peel and all) into a food processor and pulse it until it reaches a coarse, chopped texture. As I said, I’ve never made it, because to do so would mean I wouldn’t get to do the popping part, which is my favourite part. But If you’ve done the fresh, raw cranberry sauce method and you think I’m totally missing out, please do let me know and I’ll give it a try!
Whole berry cranberry sauce for the win
So if you’re ok with leaving the jellied stuff on the shelf this year, and you aren’t into the idea of the raw stuff, and you want fresh cranberry sauce for your turkey dinner, this is the easiest way to make it. In my opinion, It’s one of the most important things at any holiday dinner table.
If you’re into sweet, tangy condiments to pair with your savoury feasts, you’ll probably love my simplified chutney recipe. It shows you how to make chutney out of pretty much any fruit or vegetable!
Love turkey dinner but only feeding one or two people? I’ve got a video for that here.
- 340 grams fresh cranberries (1 bag)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water (or orange juice)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- Bring the cranberries, sugar, water/orange juice, to a boil in a pot over high heat.
- Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until most of the cranberries have popped.
- Add the orange zest (if using), remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before serving.