Homemade cranberry sauce (2024)

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Cranberries and have traditionally been one of those holiday dishes that I would pass on. Growing up I thought they were much too tart. They always seemed to get in the way of the delicious, savory foods like stuffing and gravy and mashed potatoes. Oh and of course, turkey.

Maybe it’s because so often at one grandma’s house for holidays, the cranberry sauce came from a can…and would still be slightly shaped like a can? Or, maybe it’s because at the other grandma’s house the fresh, homemade cranberry sauce would be used in conjunction with some ingredient I found odd?

Nevertheless, cranberries – whether homemade cranberry sauce or the can-shaped kind, were not on my childhood menu.

However, as I’ve aged, I’ve come to appreciate cranberries. Just like so many other flavors and textures, cranberries and cranberry sauce has grown on me and I’ve come to appreciate their tart flavor profile. I find that when cranberry sauce is combined with the savory food staples, they bring a beautiful balance to the meal.

With that in mind, a few years ago I set out to create a simple, homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. I wanted it to be something that would compliment the turkey, but also be something you could eat without feeling overwhelmed by the tartness. This is it. This is the simple, homemade cranberry sauce that will perfectly compliment those holiday meals.

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Cranberry History

But before we dive in…a little history on cranberry sauce and Thanksgiving because I actually find it fascinating. Did you know cranberries are actually considered a fruit of the United States? Along with concord grapes and blueberries they are one of the only commercially grown fruits that are native to the United States.

Native Americans were known to eat cranberries on a regular basis, as well as use them as a natural dye. (I’m going to have to give them a go next Easter with our natural egg dye.) But reports of the first cranberry sauce, made with cranberries, sugar and water go as far back as the mid-17th century. And by the 18th century, cranberries were a known side dish to any kind of game meat like quail, pheasant and turkey.

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Growing cranberries

Contrary to popular belief, cranberries don’t grow in water. They are actually a low-lying shrub (similar to a blueberry bush) or vine that grow in bogs with soil made of clay, sand, peat moss or gravel. It makes me think I should try growing some in our wetlands? With the sandy/clay soil here, they might love it.(Side note: Blueberry bushes also like sandy soil, which is why they grow so well by the lake in Michigan and Lavender actually grows best in sand, clay and gravel too.)

So what’s with the water you see on cranberry juice commercials? The water is used to harvest the cranberries. In fact, cranberry farmers flood the bogs with water when the cranberries are ripe. They are “beaten” off the vines if they haven’t fallen off and the ripe berries will float. After that, they are then sucked into a machine for harvesting.

You can see some of that process in the video below.

My homemade cranberry sauce

This homemade cranberry sauce recipe is perfect for winter gatherings like Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other winter holiday. However, this recipe is also really easy to make on a regular basis if you’re a cranberry lover.

With just three ingredients, it’s probably the easiest recipe I’ve ever made and pairs wonderfully with my favorite sour cream mashed potatoes. It’s a staple for us during the holidays and this year as we celebrate our first Thanksgiving dinner at the farm (we aren’t going back to Chicago due to Covid), it’s on the menu for the day.

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Shop our kitchen

I’ve found a new favorite set of pots and pans to cook in and I’m slowly changing out all the pots and pans in the house and the barn. I actually bought these pans for the barn originally and loved them so much I decided to switch everything over from our old (very old) set.

You can find my favorite sauce pan {HERE}.

My favorite wooden spoon set {HERE}.

And my favorite spatula {HERE}.

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You can find the full recipe for my homemade cranberry sauce below. If you’re looking for other delicious, Thanksgiving ideas you can find our Bacon and Brie Popovers {HERE} and Whipped Cranberry Butter {HERE}. Our Caramelized Onion & Ricotta Dip {HERE} also makes an excellent appetizer.

Thank you so much for stopping by today, friends! I hope that you will come back again to see what else we’re up to at Sugar Maple Farmhouse. OH! And we have a huge surprise happening in the next month that I can’t wait to show you! Stay tuned!

Homemade cranberry sauce (5)

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This homemade cranberry sauce is simple and delicious. It pairs perfectly with your Thanksgiving turkey!

5 from 11 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: Side Dish

Cuisine: American

Keyword: cranberries, cranberry sauce, homemade cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving side dish

Prep Time: 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes minutes

Servings: 4

Author: Rachel

Ingredients

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries (Usually 1 bag)
  • 1/4 cup natural, real honey
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (chopped or crushed)

Instructions

  • Add honey and cranberries to a sauce pan and heat on medium.

  • When it starts to bubble add the rosemary.

  • Let the mixture simmer for 10 -20 minutes stirring frequently.

  • Serve warm with additional rosemary as desired.

Homemade cranberry sauce (2024)

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