Food & Nutrition

Cranberry Sauce with Apples & Orange

cranberry sauce with orange with text
cranberry sauce with orange with text
cranberry sauce overhead
A bowl of food on a table, with Cranberry

This Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Orange is one of my most beloved Thanksgiving recipes here on Healthy Seasonal Recipes. It’s an annual tradition! It’s made with whole fresh cranberries, apples, orange segments, orange juice and allspice, and cooked into a chunky, sweet and tart sauce. It’s made with about half the sugar, but it’s full of natural sweetness and spice for a unique and gourmet cranberry sauce that’ll become a tradition for you too. 

Cranberry Sauce with Orange on a white tablescape with sedum and red wine

I originally shared this post on November 15th, 2013. This post contains affiliate links.

Table of contents

Why You’ll Love This Cranberry Sauce With Orange

We’re getting ready for Thanksgiving and making all of our lists. From Herb Roasted Turkey to all the trimmings! Not to be forgotten is a delicious homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe. While I love my Mom’s Cranberry Relish made with raw cranberries, I am a big fan of this whole-berry cranberry sauce. It has fresh apple and orange in it to help naturally sweeten the sauce. (I think I may make both this year!)

Whole berry cranberry sauce is probably the easiest type of cranberry sauce to make. Simply combine cranberries, sweetener (usually sugar) and some sort of liquid. Cook the mixtures in a saucepan until the cranberries burst (this takes 5 minutes.) Then as the mixture cools, the natural pectin in the cranberries will thicken the sauce and make it thick. It is that easy! 

In the case of this cranberry sauce with apples and orange I used about half the sugar as traditional cranberry sauce and orange juice for the liquid. The resulting sauce is a sweet, tart and unique taste. {I love it so much I spoon it over Greek yogurt for breakfast.}

overhead view of cranberry sauce with apple and orange with sedum and a spoon

Ingredient Notes

Apples and Oranges

You’ll need a whole orange to zest and segment. When using the zest in a recipe I opt for organic citrus.

In addition to the zest you’ll also need to “supreme” the oranges. I have included instructions and a video to show you how to cut the orange away from the pith below. Supreming the orange helps it blend into the sauce and makes the final texture of the cranberry sauce nicer.

I like to use Cortland or golden apples for this sauce because they don’t break down too much, but they do soften enough in the 5 mintes of cooking time. Read more about which apples are best to use in cooking in my guide to apples.

Brown Sugar or Another Sweetener

I used brown sugar in this recipe, but if you prefer to use an unrefined sugar, I recommend using pure maple syrup or honey. 

Orange Juice

The purpose of the juice is to give the cranberries something to simmer in, so they can cook and break down. Otherwise, they would burn! Many recipes just use water which is a missed opportunity for flavor. Here the orange juice makes the sauce taste more sweet and fruity.


For making this recipe, you can use either fresh or frozen cranberries. Buy them in bulk or bagged. Avoid cranberries that are wrinkled or look like they are softening. Once you get them home, make sure they are dry and store them in the refrigerator. 

TIP: Pick Over The Cranberries 

Sometimes along with the cranberries, you’ll a fine and hard thread-like stem attached to the berry. To sort the berries, pour them onto one side of a sheet pan. Push some of the berries across the sheet pan as you visually scan for stems or berries that have become wrinkled or are not ripe. This is the same method I use to sort dried beans for bean soup, and it makes it so much easier to see foreign objects. 

How To Make Cranberry Sauce with Apple and Orange

I recommend using a good quality heavy bottom saucepan to make this sauce to prevent the brown sugar and juice from scorching. 

Step 1: Cook Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice

Stir together cranberries, apples, brown sugar, orange juice, allspice and salt in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Continue cooking, stirring often until the cranberries have popped and the mixture thickens (about 5 minutes.) Remove from heat.

Step 2: Add Orange and Zest To The Cooked Cranberry Sauce 

While the sauce cooks, zest orange. Then supreme it by doing the following:

  1. Cut skin and white pith off the orange.
  2. Cut between membranes to remove individual segments, working all the way around the orange.

Finally, gently stir the zest and orange segments into the cranberry compote. Discard the orange membrane and peel. Cool the cranberry sauce compote completely (about 2 hours.)

a side view of cranberry sauce in a white farmhouse pottery bowl

Make Ahead Tips

This cranberry sauce can be made five days in advance. The oranges will be stained red by the cranberries but the flavor and texture will be great.  

You can also freeze this sauce up to 3 weeks. Thaw for 48 hours before stirring well and serving.

More Cranberry Recipes To Make This Holiday Season

Thanks so much for reading. If you make this recipe, please come back and let me know by leaving a star rating and review. It helps so much! 

Happy Cooking!



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Here is a gourmet way to make homemade Cranberry Sauce with Apple and Orange. Cook the whole fresh cranberries with apples, orange juice, allspice and less sugar than traditional sauces. Then add in fresh orange zest and orange segments at the end for a fresh and unique cranberry sauce to share on Thanksgiving.

  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, picked and rinsed
  • 2 apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • pinch salt
  • 1 orange

  1. Stir together cranberries, apples, brown sugar, orange juice, allspice and salt in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Continue cooking, stirring often until the cranberries have popped and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, zest orange. To supreme the orange: Cut skin and white pith off the orange. Cut between membranes to remove individual segments, working all the way around the orange. Gently stir the zest and orange segments into the compote. Discard orange membrane and peel. Cool compote completely, about 2 hours.


You can use frozen cranberries instead of fresh, simply cook a little longer in step one, until the cranberries thaw and then start to pop and burst.

This cranberry sauce can be frozen, though the apples will lose some of their texture and become a little mushy as a result.

This can be made up to 5 days ahead. Store in a resealable container in the refrigerator.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup
  • Calories: 53 cal
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13 g
  • Fiber: 1 g

Keywords: cranberry sauce with orange,unique cranberry sauce,gourmet cranberry sauce,lower sugar cranberry sauce,cranberry sauce with apple and orange

About the Author

Katie Webster

Katie Webster studied art and photography at Skidmore College and is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute. She has been a professional recipe developer since 2001 when she first started working in the test kitchen at EatingWell magazine. Her recipes have been featured in numerous magazines including Shape, Fitness, Parents and several Edible Communities publications among others. Her cookbook, Maple {Quirk Books} was published in 2015. She launched Healthy Seasonal Recipes in 2009. She lives in Vermont with her husband, two teenage daughters and two yellow labs. In her free time, you can find her at the gym, cooking, stacking firewood, making maple syrup, and tending to her overgrown perennial garden.