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Easy Cranberry Sauce – A Small Batch Recipe For 2-4 Servings

I have been making this Easy Cranberry Sauce recipe ever since I began hosting my own Thanksgiving dinner at my house.

However, this isn’t a recipe that was passed down for generations in my family. That is because, unfortunately in my mind, my family Thanksgiving feast always included canned cranberry sauce.

You know the kind. The same sauce that slides out of the just opened can and once removed continues to hold the shape of the cylinder, including every ridge.

Like many children, I couldn’t even bear the thought of that gel like substance touching my plate, let alone my lips. However, when I was an adult and I began having Thanksgiving dinner celebrations outside my immediate family my eyes were pleasantly opened.

cranberry sauce for two
Homemade cranberry sauce is much better tasting than the cranberry jelly that is found at many Thanksgiving celebrations. Plus it takes only minutes to prepare!

That was the first time that I had ‘real’ cranberries. Of course, I didn’t eat the cranberries straight from the bag. And I highly recommend that you don’t either!

Cranberries are very tart in nature. And I don’t know anyone that would enjoy snacking on them raw. However, boil them down with a little sweetness and citrus, and you will have the most amazing cranberry sauce that you have ever tried!

Small Batch Recipe

However, a typical bag of cranberries that you can purchase near Thanksgiving produces way too much sauce for many families.

This includes when you are making this sauce to go along with your Crock Pot Turkey and Dressing for Two. However it also includes larger family gatherings where you can guarantee that not everyone will place a scoop of cranberry sauce on their plate.

Therefore, I have reduced the ingredients to make this a small batch recipe that makes the perfect amount for just about everyone!

whole cranberries
Although it is difficult to purchase whole cranberries in bulk, you can freeze the cranberries that you don’t use from the plastic package for other recipes.

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe


Fresh Cranberries
Granulated Sugar
Orange Zest, finely diced
Orange Juice, no sugar added*
Ground Cinnamon

Just a quick note about the orange juice. As always it is best to use fresh squeezed juice. However, most of us will be measuring the juice from a store-bought container.

However, be sure to use all-natural orange juice that is not made from concentrate and has no added sugar. If the juice you are using contains added sugars, eliminate or significantly decrease the amount of granulated sugar in the recipe.

And as a side note, I prefer pulp-free juice for this recipe so you don’t have to worry about the added texture of the pulp completing with the cranberries and orange zest.

How To Make Easy Cranberry Sauce

Start by zesting an orange. I recommend using a citrus zester to easily remove the orange peel. However be sure not to go too deep into the skin.

You want to avoid getting the white pith that is underneath the peel as this surface produces a bitter taste. Once the zest has been removed, use a sharp knife and chop it into fine pieces.

Although you want the flavor and texture of the zest, large pieces scattered throughout your sauce can be annoying.

Once you have your zest ready, add it to a sauce pan. Then add the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, and salt.

Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes.

How To Know When The Cranberry Sauce Is Done

You will know if the cranberry sauce is done when the cranberries have burst and the sauce has thickened. However, please note that the sauce will continue to thicken significantly when it cools.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the contents in a heat resistant serving dish. Let the mixture cool completely and then cover and place in the refrigerator.

You can make this easy cranberry sauce up to 3 days before serving. This is a great way to help you save time on the holiday to prepare other recipes that can’t be made in advance.

Before serving, remove the cover and stir. It is best to allow the cranberry sauce to come to room temperature for ease of serving, although this is not required.

Store any leftovers in a covered container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

boiling berries
As the cranberries begin to heat up in the boiling mixture, they will burst. Continue to stir until thickened, knowing that the cranberry sauce will thicken significantly once cooled.

If you want to make Cranberry Sauce in your Instant Pot you can certainly do that by following the recipe here: Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce.

You can decrease the ingredients to make a smaller batch with the same cook instructions, including the cook time.

Enjoy! Mary

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cranberry sauce for two

Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe For Two

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

An easy, yet delicious cranberry sauce recipe that is perfect for a small Thanksgiving dinner celebration.


  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, no sugar added
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large saucepan, add the cranberries, sugar, zest, orange juice, cinnamon, and salt. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until cranberries have burst and sauce has thickened.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and place the contents in a serving dish. Cool and refrigerate. Stir before serving.
  4. Store up to 1 week in the refrigerator.


This recipe can be made 3 days in advance before serving.

Use no-sugar added and not from concentrate orange juice.

Recipe provided by

Nutrition Information
Yield 4
Amount Per Serving Calories 129Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 65mgCarbohydrates 33gFiber 1gSugar 30gProtein 0g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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