Making Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce for the Holidays


I roast turkeys all year, but there’s nothing like the Thanksgiving turkey and the Norman Rockwell moment when the huge steaming platter of turkey is placed on the table. Of course, you need some cranberry sauce, and once you’ve had home-canned cranberry sauce, you’ll never go back to cranberry sauce from the store. Why, if you make your own cranberry sauce, you can add new twists, try exciting variations. It’s fun—and delicious! And just right for the holidays.

Start with a basic whole berry sauce, and check out the ideas below for making it your own.

New to canning? Check out How to Can: Hot Water Bath Method.

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How to make Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce:

7 cups of cranberries
1 (heaping) cup seeded, chopped orange pulp
4 cups sugar
4 cups water

Wash and drain cranberries. Prepare orange pulp. In a large pot, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and orange pulp. Keep the pot at a boil. Do not stir. When the cranberry skins begin to break open, the mixture is ready.
Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust lids and bands. Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

For me, this makes 5 gorgeous pints.
This is a perfect gift during the holidays, by the way. Who doesn’t want you to show up at their house on Thanksgiving or Christmas with a homemade jar of cranberry sauce???

And it is so easy! I mean, the stuff in the cans– Don’t go there again this year. Save yourself!

Note: You can also freeze the sauce. (If you don’t want to can it.)

Updated to add: Here are some ideas from your comments! Add raspberries, strawberries, apples, or any other fruit. Spice it up with cinnamon and cloves or grated ginger. Put in a little port or whiskey or rum or brandy. Grate orange (or even lemon) peel for more intense citrus flavor. Add some raisins. Go really different with some sprigs of rosemary. It’s your cranberry sauce!

P.S. Don’t forget the Old-Fashioned Cornbread Dressing.

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

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  1. Melinda in Washington State says:

    Love cranberries. Your sauce is so pretty in the jars. It will taste so good during the holidays or any time of year, for that matter. Sometimes I’ve use orange juice in making whole cranberry sauce. Will try your recipe using the pulp. Cranberries freeze well too. My husband is a retired cranberry grower. Glad you posted this.

  2. Sheila Z says:

    I second that cranberries freeze well. Just throw them in the freezer in the bag they came in and you are good to go. My favorite is cranberry orange quick bread. Hmmmm, there are about 40 quarts of frozen raspberries (it was a good year for berries here) in my freezer, I bet homemade cranberry/raspberry sauce would be good too. I have a freezer full of homegrown 30 lb turkeys. I cooked one fresh back in September. The meat was delicious. The rest of them went to freezer camp. Time to thaw a turkey soon and get cranberry sauce going here too. Homemade cranberry sauce with homegrown turkey will be wonderful..

  3. JOJO says:

    I will make this recipe for Thanksgiving. I use canberry sauce quite a bit. We like it with pork and chicken and of course as a spread on left over turkey subs.

  4. Johanna says:

    Mmmm! One of my favorite Thanksgiving sides! I spice mine up with cinnamon and cloves. The orange sounds like a nice addition, too. Have you tried Susan Stamberg’s cranberry relish with horseradish? That’s delish, too! NPR posts the recipe every year. As a vegetarian, I love Thanksgiving more than any other holiday feast!

  5. CindyP says:

    I cook cranberry sauce every year for Thanksgiving, but I never ever thought about canning it! I would use it as a glaze for chicken if I was to have it on hand! I WILL NOT buy the canned stuff, I did try it one year, was not impressed, so it has been homemade ever since!

  6. ChrisUK says:

    Try a little Port in the Cranberry Sauce,or come to that a lot according to taste.I will substitute port for water.Yummy.

  7. Julie Harward says:

    Oh this looks so wonderful…you are one awesome lady! I used to do all that when I had kids at much so that I kind of got burned out. All my kids and spouses and grands (40) are coming for Thanksgiving…I’ll do good to make home made rolls!
    Hey, I’m having a GIVE A WAY…drawing to be Mon. morning…come say hi 😀

  8. Karen Su says:

    How about Cranberry juice?? anyone done that?? I canned grape juice this fall, but wondered if there was a cranberrry juice recipe that was cheaper than store-bought and just as tasty…

  9. Berta says:

    Good Morning, all! Beautiful sunrise here in Michigan, with blueberry muffins,too. This is my first post to my new favorite site. Thank you, Suzanne!
    Cranberry recipe is just about how I make it.You can grate the orange peel and add for more intense flavor. Whenever using oranges I save the peels by grating them off the pith and then drying them. They are handy for flavoring breads, cookies, muffins,even meat dishes. It’s a “waste not,want not” win-win. Dried peel is expensive to buy but saving it up is so easy.(hope this is posted in the proper place).
    “Louis,I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…” Thanks to all!

  10. Michelle says:

    I had never made homemade cranberry sauce until last Thanksgiving … uh where had I been for 42 plus years? LOL I am SO NOT ever buying the can again. Never thought to can it. Again, never canned until last year too, so I am in good shape now. Thanks. How’s the job thing going?

  11. mamawolf says:

    Try adding a couple of sticks of cinnamon and sprigs of fresh rosemary. Even better. The orange pulp really makes the cranberries zing.

  12. flutterby says:

    I use orange juice instead of water plus julienned orange rind (instead of orange pulp) and fresh ginger also julienned (sp?).

  13. Nancy says:

    Good luck with the video!

    When you freeze the cranberries in their bag, how do you wash them before you use them? Or do you wash them and then freeze them?



  14. Val says:

    Girl, you read my mind!! Last night I was googling recipes for canning cranberry sauce! Doesn’t it look gorgeous in the jars? So pretty on a shelf. So yummy in a tummy. I never canned til this year, you were my inspiration. Thanks so much!

  15. Suzette says:

    I love homemade cranberry sauce – but for some reason, never thought about canning my own…even though I can lots of OTHER things! You betcha I’ll be putting some away THIS year! Thanks for the thought!

  16. Terry says:

    Very nice recipe, Suzanne. My poor son in law has to have the canned jelly type cranberry sauce, and it has to be the brand that has the ridges on the can, lol. One year my daughter and I just put the unopened can in a pretty dish, and decorated it all up and put it in front of his plate. He was a good sport about it and we cracked the can for use in sandwiches and on biscuits. I am going to try your recipe but will scale it back some. I don’t have any jars for canning. Would you be able to freeze the finished sauce?

  17. Angela says:

    Hey Suzanne!

    I have been making my own cranberry sauce for a couple of years now. I also use a orange in mine too!

    The thought never even crossed my mind to can it! Thanks so much for that idea! Now it won’t take me as long to get things ready for my Thanksgiving and Christmas meals as it usually does! :snoopy:

    Angela :wave:

  18. shastas3 says:

    Try substituting 1c of water with triple-sec! Mmmmmmmmm I’m telling you it will make you want to slap your mama!!! Just sayin 🙂

  19. Mariah says:

    My mother made cranberry jelly every year when I was growing up and now I make it too. The cranberries have enough natural pectin that it gels without any help. Not sure how that would work with whole cranberries, though. Just thought I’d throw in that little piece of info! I think I’ll try whole berries this year, just for fun.

  20. Sandra says:

    I like to make a cranberry relish that is put through a food chopper, using cranberries, oranges and sugar. It is not cooked. Can that be canned as well?

    • Suzanne says:

      I don’t see why not! You’d have to heat it up, though, because it has to go into the jars hot before it’s put in the canner.

    • Patty Hager says:

      Oh I loved that recipe for cranberry relish Sandra. It just evokes memories of being at my Grandma’s in Colfax, WV and sitting around the table at Thanksgiving time. She made that every holiday and we all loved it. In fact I am making the relish for my dinner this year. Patty in Hurricane, WV

  21. Angie says:

    Two more ways to use cranberries that I LOVE! —

    1 bag cranberries
    1 cup sugar
    10 oz. Crushed pineapple, drained of all but 2 Tbs juice
    1 can apple pie filling
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    1 ½ Tbs tapioca
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/3 cup pecans, crushed
    ¼ cup flour
    3 Tbs. margarine, softened
    ½ cup quick oats

    Place cranberries, sugar and pineapple into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and heat on high a few minutes until berries become soft and begin to burst. Cut up the apples from the pie filling and then add entire contents of can to cranberry mixture. Add cinnamon and tapioca. Stir well. Pour into a greased 2 qt baking dish. In separate bowl, combine topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over top of cranberry-apple mixture. Bake at 325 for 35 minutes or until bubbly and crumbs are golden brown.


    2 cups washed raw cranberries
    2 skinned and cored apples
    1 large, whole (peel ON) seedless orange, cut into sections
    2 cups granulated sugar

    1.Set up the grinder with a medium-sized blade on the edge of a table with a large roasting pan or bowl to catch the mix as it grinds. These old fashioned grinders tend to leak some of the juice down the grinder base, so you may want to set up an additional pan on the floor under the grinder to catch the drips. If you don’t have an old-fashioned grinder you can use a grinder attachment on a KitchenAid mixer, you can chop by hand (though that will take a lot of work), or you can chop in a food processor (be very careful not to over-pulse, or you’ll end up with mush).
    2.Run fruit through a grinder. Use the entire (seedless) orange, peels, pith and all.
    3.Mix in the sugar. Let sit at room temperature until sugar dissolves, about 45 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.
    Makes about 3 cups.

    • B. Ruth says:

      This is the relish we made growing up…..I was in charge of the hand-cranked old timey grinder….Good berries would pop as you ground them!..The old time version of bubble wrap pop addiction!LOL
      Always at Thanksgiving…we would have tea, water, etc. but also the little 1950’s ice box cold Coca Cola’s for guests…You may think this is weird but I would put the relish in a glass..pour a ice cold little Coke over it….watch it fizz and enjoy the heck out of drinking it and then eat the rest with a spoon..Strange I know, but not many kids will eat cranberries that young…either!
      Mom would sometimes add a few chopped fresh pecans to the relish..

  22. Gini says:

    I make a variation of this by using blood orange juice in place of half of the water. Best cranberry sauce I’ve ever had!

  23. joeltheurbangardener says:

    Hmmm, yum -cranberry sauce. Thanks for the recipe. Yours looks great. I’ll have to pass it on to my family for thanksgiving. Glad to have found through a fellow blogger ob Blotanical.

  24. Donna says:

    I LOVE MY CANNED cranberry sauce…yes, the JELLED kind. I have had homemade and I still prefer my jellied cranberry sauce!!! LOL Sorry!!

  25. another Suzanne says:

    I like to add some fresh grated ginger – wow! is it good!!

  26. B. Ruth says:

    I make my cranberry sauce every year….never canned it though…
    My daughter-in-law has to have her canned cranberry sauce…she eats it all year with any chicken dish..likes it ice cold.

    I chill the canned real well, open both ends of the can…slide that lump out…slice it thru the rings..(LOL) lay down the slices..use my turkey cookie cutter and make little cranberry sauce rosy red turkeys…lay them around in a ring and garnish with a little celery greenery…kids love them….take the leftover pieces and put in a small serving bowl for the table..
    Personally these little turkeys work best with the canned as my homemade has the fresh cranberries and it is easier to cut the jelled canned for the turkeys….B.Ruth

  27. Darlene says:

    Now if anyone has a recipe for cranberry JELLY Sauce (yes, like the stuff in the can!) I’d love to try it.

    I think it’s all in what you’re used to eating growing up. We always had the jelly sauce, not the whole berry sauce. Whole berries are ok (yes, I’ve had homemade with orange juice and peel in it), but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the jelly sauce. It’s part of the written in GRANITE Thanksgiving and Christmas feast requirements. The menu is NEVER to vary! lol It consists of Baked turkey, fresh mashed potatoes (not the boxed stuff) and gibblet gravy, bread stuffing with sausage, onion, celery and poultry seasoning(NOT dressing!), cranberry sauce (jellied), fresh green beans with a pat of butter (not bacon or bacon grease – that’s for other days! lol) olives -bother green and black, and 3 types of pie – pumpkin pie, chocolate pecan pie and a Hershey’s bar pie. On occasion, we make homemade rolls and fresh corn on the cob. Oh, and at my parents, they make candied yams – about 3 cooked, sliced sweet potatoes/yams, a stick of butter cut into pats and an entire 1lb box of dark brown sugar, but it’s too much sugar for me – and my kids don’t like them.

    Yes, this is the menu EVERY YEAR! And sometimes for Easter too!
    The rest of the year, we have variety, but on the holidays it’s tradition all the way. If my kids go to their dad’s, when they get back, I have to fix this dinner or they haven’t had their holiday feast. lol (Their rules, not mine!)

  28. Melinda in Washington State says:

    A recipe for Jellied Cranberry Sauce from Better Homes and Gardens Five Seasons Cranberry Book.

    8 cups of fresh cranberries
    4 cups water
    4 cups sugar

    Cook cranberries in water till skins pop, about 5 minutes. Put through sieve or food mill. Stir in sugar. Boil rapidly 10 to 15 minutes or till drop jells on chilled plate(I don’t think it takes that long for it to jell. It been awhile since I made this). Skim off foam. Pour into 1 1/2-quart mold; chill till firm, about 5 hours.

    I have made this a couple of time but I don’t like to. It’s alot of extra work running the berries through the sieve. I my family love the whole sauce.

    Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving

  29. Gretchen says:

    I just canned 24 jars of cranberry sauce on Friday for gifts and for myself because we will be away from home and I cannot stand the idea of not having homemade cranberry sauce 🙂 I used frozen orange juice concentrate and added cinnamon, cloves, and smushed up crystallized ginger, yum!

  30. Linda Shupe says:

    I hate to sound negative, but this has been the most horrible day that I have had in a long time. You know the kind everything you touch or try to do falls apart. Well I opened my email and all of a sudden my world was transformed to a happy, wonderful day with memories and love of the country flooding back. Thank you so much for being in my email and making a rotten day turn glorious.

  31. Jill from Spencer WV says:

    i am headed into town to buy cranberries so i can make some to give away! thank you!

  32. jojo says:

    I made your canned cranberry sauce recipe tonight. I must admit to being a little nervous. Not having ever done this before, I followed your instructions to the tee and dumped in the craneberries and orange chunks. I did not mix or stir them per your instructions. They look so pretty in the jars. I wish I could try them as I’m nervous about serving them to family without knowing if I did it correctly. The tops sealed, but there appears to be more chunks of orange in two of the jars than the rest. Should I have stirred the mixture before putting in the jars? Thanks for the recipe. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it comes out well and tasty.

  33. JOJO says:

    I made this last year and it is the best EVER!! This year I have loaded up on cranberries to make extra, this is a have to have condiment for your left over sandwitches–I LOVE THIS STUFF!!

  34. Sheila says:

    I’m making this right now for thanksgiving , I don’t normally care for cranberry sauce , but right now the kitchen smells so good I may just try some of this and see if that changes my opinion :).

  35. Sheila says:

    I really liked your cranberry sauce though I still gotta admit I’m still not a fan of it , but it did make my kitchen smell delicious :).(btw aside from my neighbor I’m the only one who ate it).

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