Cranberries divide Thanksgiving dinner guests into two camps: Those who prefer chunky compote and those who like a jiggly, jello-like condiment with their holiday meal (store-bought or otherwise). This cranberry-orange sauce recipe is for the first group. Bright citrus and warming cinnamon are the complements cranberries look for this time of the year, and navel oranges conveniently come into season just in time for the holiday. (If you prefer cranberry relish or a cranberry sauce recipe with a bit of orange zest that’s so simple it doesn’t even require a recipe, we also have you covered).
This easy recipe is minimal, but specific. To extract the best orange flavor, don’t skip blanching the citrus in boiling water, which removes bitterness from the orange peel and pith. Once you’ve added the fresh cranberries (though frozen cranberries also work), don’t stray far from the stovetop. Along with the granulated sugar, they scorch easily and thicken quickly because they contain a lot of natural pectin, a key ingredient in jam-making. Start at high heat until you reach a boil, then lower it to medium heat to prevent the sauce from burning.
This fresh cranberry sauce can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, leaving more prep time for other staples of your Thanksgiving table like roast turkey, and side dishes like sweet potatoes, green beans, and mashed potatoes. While you won’t need to reheat it, do let it come to room temperature before serving. Use leftover orange cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, breakfast steel-cut oats, or whatever else could use a zhuzh of yummy, sweet-and-tangy cranberries.