This four ingredient cranberry sauce is fresh and flavorful, thanks to the orange zest! And it can be made ahead, saving you precious time.
You’ve had cran-apple juice, so how about a cran-apple sauce? This Apple Cranberry Sauce is the perfect mixture of sweet and tart, accented with orange zest for another burst of flavor.
This is a seriously thick, sticks-to-the-spoon sauce. Best of all, it’s just 4 ingredients!
People around the Thanksgiving table can be categorized one of two ways: team canned cranberry sauce and team fresh cranberry sauce. I fall resolutely into the latter. In my opinion, fresh cranberry sauce has so much more flavor, and it’s much more vibrant and fresh (duh) tasting.
- Fresh cranberries are the star of this recipe; you can also use frozen cranberries.
- A single apple (I used Honeycrisp) adds sweetness and a nice texture.
- Granulated sugar is a must for sweetening up the sauce.
- Orange zest makes the cranberry flavor really pop.
How to make apple cranberry sauce from scratch
1. Start with a whole apple, and grate it using a box grater. I used Honeycrisp, but any sweet apple will do. Pink Lady would be delicious, too! Apples and cranberries are a natural pair.
2. Place the grated apple into a saucepan with a package of fresh cranberries, the zest of one orange, and ⅔ cup of granulated sugar.
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the sauce is thick, about 8–10 minutes.
That’s it! The result is the perfect combination of fresh, sweet, tart, and bright. Allow the sauce to cool and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve it.
How to make cranberry sauce ahead
Follow the instructions for making cranberry sauce, and then allow the sauce to cool. Transfer it to a storage container, place the lid on, and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.
It can be made up to 3 days ahead so you don’t have to worry about it on Thanksgiving Day. I’d recommend letting it come to room temperature before serving.
You can also freeze the sauce for up to 2 months in a freezer-safe airtight container.
What to serve with cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce is perfect for enjoying with turkey, stuffing, and mashed sweet potatoes. Here’s a look at an easy Thanksgiving menu:
A salad would be a great addition to this menu. My mom makes this Church Lady Salad every year and it’s a hit.
Apple Cranberry Sauce
- 1 (12 oz) package cranberries
- 1 large honeycrisp apple, peeled and grated on a box grater
- Zest of one orange
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the sauce is thick, about 8–10 minutes.
- Let cool and refrigerate before serving. Can be make up to 3 days ahead.