The Best Crockpot Cranberry Sauce Recipe

If you’re looking for the best cranberry sauce recipe, then try this homemade crockpot cranberry sauce! It’s made with fresh cranberries and features orange juice, cinnamon, and sugars for delicious flavors. This sauce is holiday-ready and will make your house smell amazing!

crockpot cranberry sauce in white bowl with spoon

Cranberry sauce is a classic around the holidays, but if you’re used to store-bought versions or recipes that just didn’t turn out right, then give this recipe a shot. It’s not only incredibly easy to make in a crockpot but tastes absolutely delicious. Plus, it looks beautiful!

And if you love the flavor of cranberries as much as we do, then you’ll fall in love with my cranberry nut bread. It’s dense, rich, and perfectly tart! Also, check out my cranberry bars and cranberry tea recipes. Trust me, you’ll love them, and they’ll make your house smell like Christmas!

Why I Love This Recipe

  • Easy to make: This slow cooker cranberry sauce recipe is incredibly straightforward. Simply combine your ingredients, stir, and let your crockpot do the rest. It is an easy, hands-off approach that lets you focus on other Thanksgiving recipes.
  • Quick prep time: With just a few minutes of prep time required, this recipe is a time-saver. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, and water, add the fresh cranberries, and you’re done. It is a quick solution for a delicious side dish.
  • Family-favorite: The blend of flavors from fresh cranberries, orange juice, and a hint of cinnamon makes this recipe a hit with the whole family. The sweetness of the sugars perfectly balances the tart cranberries.
  • Versatile: What’s more is that this recipe is versatile. Feel free to add in extras like orange zest, a splash of red wine, or even some ginger for an extra spice kick. This means you can tailor this cranberry sauce to your family’s preferences.
  • Crowd pleaser: This cranberry sauce is not only delicious, but it also fills your home with a wonderful aroma as it simmers in the crockpot. It is a surefire way to impress your guests and get them excited for the meal to come.

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Key Ingredients

  • Light Brown Sugar: This ingredient will add a rich, deep sweetness to the cranberry sauce. The molasses in brown sugar also adds a hint of caramel flavor.
  • Granulated White Sugar: It will sweeten the sauce without altering the flavor. It perfectly balances the tartness of the fresh cranberries.
  • Ground Cinnamon: This spice will add a hint of warmth and depth to your cranberry sauce. It pairs beautifully with the tartness of the cranberries and the sweetness of the sugars.
  • Orange Juice: This will add a bright, citrusy flavor to the sauce. It also helps to break down the cranberries as they cook, releasing their natural pectin and enhancing their flavor.
  • Water: It helps to create the right consistency for your sauce and allows the flavors to meld together as they simmer.
  • Fresh Cranberries: The star of the show! Fresh cranberries have a vibrant, tart flavor that is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the sugars. Making the sauce with fresh cranberries will fill your house with an amazing aroma.

Equipment

  • Crockpot – The heart of this recipe, a good crockpot is essential for slow cooking the cranberries to perfection. It allows the ingredients to combine and cook evenly, bringing out the depth of flavor in the cranberries and the sweetness of the sugars.
  • Potato Masher – After the cranberries have cooked on high for three hours, you’ll need a potato masher to crush the cranberries. This helps release their flavor and creates the desired texture for your sauce.

How to Make Crockpot Cranberry Sauce

Preparation

Before you start, gather all the ingredients needed for this slow cooker cranberry sauce recipe. Make sure you have a crock pot ready as well. This will make the prep time even quicker and more efficient.

brown sugar, sugar and orange juice being poured in crockpot for cranberry sauce

Step 1 – Combine Ingredients

In your crock pot, combine all the ingredients except for the cranberries. This includes the brown sugar, orange juice, maple syrup, salt, and orange zest. Give it a good stir to make sure that all the ingredients are well mixed.

fresh cranberries being washed with water

Step 2 – Add Cranberries

Next, add the fresh cranberries to the mixture. Make sure they’re evenly coated with the sweet and tangy mixture. This will help to infuse the cranberries with plenty of flavor.

fresh cranberries being stirred with sauce in slow cooker

Step 3 – Cook in Crockpot

Turn on your crock pot to a high setting and let it cook for three hours. Remember to stir the cranberries every hour to distribute the heat and flavors evenly.

spoon with cooked cranberry sauce in crockpot

Step 4 – Mash and Continue Cooking

After three hours on high, mash the cranberries using a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Continue to heat on high with the lid off for an additional forty-five minutes. This will help to thicken the sauce and intensify its flavors.

Step 5 – Cool and Serve

Finally, let your cranberry sauce cool before transferring it to a serving dish. This delicious side dish is the perfect accompaniment holiday table. Enjoy!

cranberry sauce in white bowl with spoon

Expert Tips

  • Prepare in advance: Make this cranberry sauce the day before your holiday feast whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. Not only will your house smell amazing, but you’ll also have one less dish to worry about on the big day.

Recipe Variations

  • Add a Fall Twist: Give your cranberry sauce a delicious fall twist by incorporating apples into the mix. Simply dice one fresh apple and add it to the crockpot along with the cranberries. The apple will add a sweet and tangy flavor that pairs beautifully with the tartness of the cranberries.
  • Sweeten it with Honey: If you’d prefer to avoid refined sugar, replace the brown and granulated sugar with half a cup of honey. This will not only add natural sweetness to your cranberry sauce but also a subtle floral note that enhances the overall taste
  • Spice it up: For those who love a bit of heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the mixture. The spice will balance out the sweetness and give your cranberry sauce a surprising kick.
  • Infuse with Vanilla: For a hint of smooth, sweet flavor, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the recipe. The vanilla will mingle with the cranberries and sugars, creating a sauce that’s not just tangy and sweet, but also deeply aromatic.

What to Serve With

  • This cranberry sauce is a great side dish for your Thanksgiving turkey. Its tangy flavor and sweetness complement the savory taste of the turkey, making the entire meal taste even better.
  • Looking for a way to revamp your turkey sandwich? Add a generous dollop of this cranberry sauce for a sweet and tangy twist that will make your leftover turkey taste like it is Thanksgiving all over again.
  • If you love cheese, then try pairing this cranberry sauce with a sharp cheddar or creamy brie. The sweetness of the cranberry sauce balances the strong flavors of the cheese, making it a delightful snack or appetizer.
  • If you’re a fan of mashed potatoes, try adding a spoonful of this cranberry sauce on top. The sweet and tangy sauce cuts through the creaminess of the potatoes, making it a delicious and unique side dish.

Recipe FAQs

Can you make cranberry sauce ahead of time?

Absolutely! This cranberry sauce can be made the day before and served on your holiday table. There is such a significant difference between homemade cranberry sauce and the canned stuff. Give it a try; you won’t regret it.

What can I do if my sauce is too tart?

If your sauce is too tart, feel free to add a bit more brown sugar or honey to the mixture. Stir well and taste until you reach the desired level of sweetness.

What can I use the leftover cranberry sauce for?

It can be used in a variety of ways! You can use it as a spread for sandwiches, mix it into your morning yogurt, or even use it as a topping for vanilla ice cream.

Can I use this cranberry sauce as a side dish for other meals?

Yes, of course! This slow-cooker cranberry sauce recipe makes an excellent side dish for turkey, mashed potatoes, or any other Thanksgiving recipe. It adds a sweet and tangy flavor that compliments many dishes well.

Storing and Reheating

  • Refrigerate: Store any leftover cranberry sauce in an airtight container with a lid. It will keep well in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  • Reheat Instructions: When you’re ready for a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce or a side dish with a twist, reheat the sauce on medium heat on the stovetop. Stir it occasionally to prevent sticking until it is warm enough to your taste.
  • Freezing: You can even freeze this delicious holiday sauce. Simply store it in a freezer-safe container and pop it in the freezer for up to three months. 
  • Thawing: Allow the sauce to thaw overnight in the fridge.

Serving Size

What to Expect: This slow cooker cranberry sauce recipe makes enough for about seven servings. 

How to Scale: If you’re expecting more guests for Thanksgiving, you can easily double the recipe. Just make sure your crock pot is large enough to accommodate the increased quantity of ingredients. If it’s not, you can cook in two batches to get the same results.

cranberry sauce in white bowl with spoon
Created by: Lynette Rice

Crockpot Cranberry Sauce


Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 7
7
Homemade crockpot cranberry sauce combining orange juice, fresh cranberries, sugars and cinnamon.

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients except the cranberries in the crockpot. Stir well.
  • Add cranberries and evenly coat.
  • Turn on the crockpot to high for 3 hours, stirring the cranberries every hour.
  • After three hours on high, mash the cranberries. Continue to heat on high with the lid off, for 45 minutes.
  • Let cool and transfer to serving dish.

Notes

Expert Tip: Make in Advance. Make this cranberry sauce the day before your holiday feast whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. Not only will your house smell amazing, but you’ll also have one less dish to worry about on the big day.
Refrigerate: Store any leftover cranberry sauce in an airtight container with a lid. It will keep well in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Reheat Instructions: When you’re ready for a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce or a side dish with a twist, reheat the sauce on medium heat on the stove top. Stir it occasionally to prevent sticking until it is warm enough to your taste.
Freezing: You can even freeze this delicious holiday sauce. Simply store it in a freezer-safe container and pop it in the freezer for up to three months. 
Thawing: Allow the sauce to thaw overnight in the fridge.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 96mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 65IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.3mg

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Recipe Rating




71 Comments

  1. Can u make this in a small crockpot?

    1. Lynette Rice says:

      Yes! As long as the ingredients fit when adding them, a smaller crockpot will work.

  2. 5 stars
    We have been making this same recipe for years and we love it!! We always make extra to put over vanilla ice cream!!

    1. Lynette Rice says:

      Oh, great idea! This would be delicious over vanilla ice cream!

  3. Deborah Wood says:

    It would be nice to know the yield of some of the recipes. How can one plan for a crowd without knowing how much it makes once cooked down?

    1. The recipe states it serves 7.

  4. Yes. I have made it the last several years. It is super easy, makes the house smell amazing, and fool proof. Highly recommend 🙂

  5. Kristina Curry says:

    Has anyone tried to can this recipe?

    1. Yes. I have made it the last several years. It is super easy, makes the house smell amazing, and fool proof. Highly recommend 🙂