Not Your Momma’s Cranberry Sauce 

I am not your momma. Therefore, I will not try to outdo her on the ever-so-important Thanksgiving meal. We all have our favorite dishes we bring to the table every year, and I would not dream of asking you to break that winning streak! Except: I am confident my cranberry sauce recipe is worth trying with your special feast next week. 

You’re either a fan of canned cranberry sauce or you’re not. You know the kind—the metallic diva of convenience that slithers out of its tin with that disturbing, but humorous “schlop!” sound only if you talk nice to it. Wobbly, unnerving, and just a tad too perfect, I say. It’s subtle in tartness and comes off as a handshake rather than the whole-berry hug that I prefer. I need more when it comes to cranberry sauce! I’m talking about bold bursts of flavor and texture in each bite. 

In my recipe for homemade cranberry sauce, some berries are left whole while others take part in a symphony of “pop” as it simmers. Adding a little orange zest and cinnamon takes it to a whole new level of brilliance. You’ll love it so much that you’ll find yourself making a lot to portion out and freeze. It’s great on Christmas hors d’oeuvres, your morning toast, added to your favorite festive holiday drink, or mixed into overnight oats. 

So let your cranberries roam free this holiday season. Set aside that gelatinous, sliceable cranberry cylinder—no one wants to eat food that jiggles—and embrace the chunky, tangy rebellion of homemade, whole-berry sauce. Your taste buds will thank you for it! 

3 cups granulated sugar 
1 ½ cups orange juice 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
½ teaspoon ground ginger 
¼ teaspoon ground cloves 
2 (12-ounce) packages fresh cranberries 
1 tablespoon orange zest 
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract 

Combine all ingredients into a large pot and simmer on low for 20 minutes, or until the cranberries pop. Let cool to room temperature before pouring into a container to chill in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 to 3 cups

Note: Use a large pot and simmer on low so the sauce will not boil over onto your stovetop.


  • Ruthie Martinez

    Ruthie owns Black Fig Food catering and is proprietor of the online cooking platform Elevated Plant Plate. Learn more at and

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