Making your own Smooth Cranberry Sauce is incredibly simple – it takes less than 15 minutes and can be made with fresh or frozen cranberries. Forget Ocean Spray, this is the cranberry sauce you’ll want on your table from now on!
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I always thought that making my own smooth cranberry sauce would be a pain in the bottom. I have always just bought a jar. After all, its pretty cheap right?
But I bought some fresh cranberries for another project a couple of days before I cooked a big roast dinner. I saw them and thought…meh, I’ll give it a go and see how easy it is.
It took me about 5 minutes to make a chunky whole cranberry sauce. And another 5 to blitz it and sieve it to make it smooth. Lets just say I won’t be buying it again! I highly recommend giving it a go so you can at least make your own mind up.
Why Make Smooth Cranberry Sauce?
Many of us prefer smooth style sauces. More often than not I’ll buy the jelly version or smooth version of something if its available. It’s why I developed a recipe for Smooth Strawberry Jam. In this case, I will also be publishing the recipe for a chunkier version too.
Is smooth Cranberry Sauce the same as Cranberry Jelly?
No. So the difference is that this smooth sauce uses the whole fruit. All that gets sieved out are some rogue bits of skin or any hard bits of berry that don’t get cooked down.
A cranberry jelly is made from just cranberry juice. A jelly will be more transparent than a smooth sauce so please don’t be concerned if this sauce is looks more than a fruit curd than what you might be expecting.
Saying that, when set, it doesn’t look a world different. Especially in these photos where I’ve allowed it to set in a jelly mould.
How to Serve Smooth Cranberry Sauce
I generally keep my cranberry sauce in the fridge but allow it to come to room temperature before eating.
Please don’t limit yourself to just using it as a sauce on the side of a chicken dinner. Cranberry sauce is a great addition to Sausage Rolls or as an accompaniment to a cheese board.
I use it on my Leftover Roast Dinner Pizza and in the Cranberry Dumpling Dipping Sauce which I serve with my Turkey Steamed Chinese Dumplings. I’m not saying you should never serve it with turkey or chicken but thinking outside the box with it is fun.
Let me know in the comments if you have any unusual ways of using your cranberry sauce.
Presenting Cranberry Sauce in a mould
I thought it would be quite fun to see if this sauce would set in a small jelly mould / jello mold so that it could be presented nicely on the table. I was not disappointed.
Simply grease the mould with a neutral oil then put the sauce in while still hot. Allow the sauce to cool at room temperature then place in the fridge for at least 12 hours (overnight is best) to allow it to set. Cover the mould if it doesn’t have a lid.
To release the jelly I turned it out onto a plate. If it doesn’t come straight out, you can use a small blowtorch to warm the tin. You will hear when it releases.
If your mould is not metal, hold the mould (right way up) in a bowl of hot water for 20 seconds. If that doesn’t work, go back for another 20 seconds until it releases.
Make Cranberry Sauce into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
No matter how many other ways that we do use cranberry sauce, I’ll bet my bottom dollar that you’re here because you’re thinking about making some for with a Sunday roast, Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas lunch.
As for the rest of the feast, I’m all about mixing and matching some of my classic roast dinner recipes:
- Pigs in Blankets (Bacon Wrapped Sausages)
- The Best Roast Parsnips
- Roast Potatoes
- Homemade Bread Sauce
- Roast Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Rosemary Potato Cubes
- Vichy Carrots with Thyme
- Lemon & Garlic Green Beans
- Proper Yorkshire Puddings
- Homemade Sage & Onion Paxo Stuffing
- Get Ahead Gravy From Scratch
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Smooth Cranberry Sauce
I’ve used fresh cranberries for this recipe. They are only really easy to buy in the run up to Christmas in the UK. And I imagine they’re easy to buy in the US in the run up to Thanksgiving too. The main harvesting season is from around mid September to mid November.
If you can get fresh cranberries – please do. They’re really great and full of flavour. You can use frozen cranberries the rest of the year – all the major supermarkets etc stock them.
Give the cranberries a quick wash and pluck out any that look a bit dodgy before starting the sauce.
Cranberries are very tart. And even with the amount of sugar in this recipe, the sauce is still on the tart side. So please don’t be tempted to reduce the sugar content.
You need to use a white sugar here – it doesn’t matter if it is caster/superfine or granulated/regular sugar. But please don’t use brown sugar as the taste will not work.
Please also don’t be tempted to use an artificial sweetener. The sugar forms part of the body of the sauce.
I’ve kept this recipe purposefully plain. This allows the flavour of the cranberry to really shine.
Cranberry and port sauce is a very popular option. To make this replace up to half the water in the recipe with port and carry on as normal.
You can make something akin to Nigella’s Redder than Red Cranberry Sauce by adding in some cherry brandy. Or indeed another booze of your choice.
Cranberry sauce with orange is also quite common. To make this version, replace up to half the water with orange juice. And stir through a tablespoon of orange zest after it has been sieved. This will obviously make it a not truly smooth sauce, so skip this step if you don’t want “bits”.
You could also add some fresh chilli or dried chilli flakes to make a Spicy Cranberry Sauce.
Or create a Spiced Cranberry Sauce by adding a little mixed spice (sub pumpkin spice if not in the UK). Go easy with any spices, you don’t want to mask the cranberry flavour.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
This cranberry sauce recipe is naturally vegan and therefore suitable for both vegans and vegetarians as written.
Make it Allergy Friendly
This recipe is free from egg, dairy, gluten and nuts.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Set Cranberry Sauce
I do love my stick blender because it is really easy to clean up and I find that I have minimal waste. So I do recommend popping one on your next birthday or Christmas list.
I actually have two. One with a plastic bottom for using in non-stick pans and a metal bottomed one for the rest of the time.
The other essential item you will need is a simple sieve. You could in theory not sieve the blitzed sauce but the texture will be much better if you can push it through one. A fine mesh sieve is best here.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
You really want to make this sauce at least 12 hours before you want to eat it. You could eat it warm but it is better set.
To get further ahead is easy and recommended. I make a few jars each year and they see me through to the following Christmas at least. You will need to make sure you use sterilised jars and keep any open jars in the fridge.
Leftover Cranberry Sauce
I don’t really think there is such a thing as leftover cranberry sauce. It will merrily sit in the fridge until your next roast dinner or sandwich or sausage roll making session.
Smooth Cranberry Sauce Tips
You don’t need to boil the heck out of the sauce – it isn’t actually a jam. And the cranberries seem to set with ridiculous ease anyway. Over boiling it will make the sauce gummy which isn’t ideal.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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Homemade Smooth Cranberry Sauce
- 300 g Fresh Cranberries
- 200 g Sugar
- 150 ml Water
- ¼ tsp Sea Salt Flakes
- Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan.
- Turn up the heat and keep stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Turn down the heat and allow the sauce to simmer. You don’t need to stir continuously but it will only take a couple of minutes for all the cranberries to burst and the sauce to come together.
- It will be really obvious when it is ready – it will look like cranberry sauce.
- Carefully (because it is molten sugar) tip the sauce into a jug or blender jug.
- Blitz until the sauce is smooth.
- Push the smooth sauce through a sieve. I tend to do this back into the cooking saucepan so that I don’t create more washing up.
- Pour the smooth sauce into an airtight container or jam jars. Its ready to eat as soon as its cold.