This classic cranberry sauce recipe is probably the one your grandma used to make

Easy to make, a sure-fire crowd-pleaser, and a nod to grandma’s cooking? Sign us up for this cranberry sauce recipe!

Cranberry sauce
(Image credit: Unsplash)

Looking for a classic cranberry sauce recipe to elevate your Thanksgiving table? While a can of the jellied stuff usually does the trick in a pinch, serving your own homemade cranberry sauce is one of the easiest ways to zhuzh up your holiday Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas Dinner spread without having to put in even more effort in the kitchen than you already are.

While cranberry sauce does get a polarizing reputation, our bet is that those who skip over it just haven’t had the real thing yet. Yes, the jellied variety may have become a classic in some households for its sugary sweet flavor profile and fail-safe preparation, but it simply doesn’t hold a candle to the real cranberry sauce recipe…. which also happens to be super simple.

Our favorite? The Ocean Spray cranberry sauce recipe. It's a true classic since it's on the back of the cranberry packaging—so we bet it'll evoke memories of sitting around your grandma’s table during the holidays. Like the rest of her cooking, grandma’s go-to cranberry sauce is both timeless and tasty; a crowd-pleaser that, while simple, is homemade with love rather than scooped out of a can.

Simple but everything you’d want from a cranberry sauce, the classic recipe is just the right consistency and level of sweetness—striking the perfect balance between sweet and tangy while letting the natural cranberry flavor do all the heavy lifting.

The super-easy recipe is also a convenient way to involve that home cook (or those little ones) who insist on helping in the kitchen… maybe you even had a hand in making the recipe with grandma all those years ago?

“My mom has been making this recipe for years and I am 56,” shares Arizona-based Stacey Salisbury on the Ocean Spray recipe review page. “Not everyone likes cranberry sauce because they have only had the ‘can’ sauce. I convince them to try her recipe and they like it!”

Whether you’re looking for a recipe to draw out childhood nostalgia in time for the holidays or you’re just hoping to add a dash of sophistication to your holiday table without getting your hands dirty, this classic recipe will quickly become your new little secret in the kitchen.

Here, we’ve listed out exactly how to make the classic Ocean Spray cranberry sauce recipe—while there may be one or two more steps involved than simply opening a can of the jellied stuff, this deliciously retro recipe stands the test of time—and is well worth the added prep time.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce Recipe

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes plus cooling
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Servings: 2 1/4 cups
  • Specialty: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Lactose-free, Kosher


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 12-ounce package Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries


  • Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan.
  • Bring to boil; add cranberries, return to boil.
  • Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Cover and cool completely at room temperature.
  • Refrigerate until serving time.

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