Apple Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
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Sweet, tart, homemade Apple Cranberry Sauce is the vibrant side dish your holiday table needs! With fresh cranberries, sweet Fuji apples, orange juice, sugar, and cinnamon, it’s a beautiful and wholesome recipe that’s super easy to make.

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Apples

With all of the rich dishes people typically serve at the holidays, it’s great to have something really fresh and zingy on the table. You’ve got turkey, or maybe ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, possibly stuffing and gravy, casseroles, pies… and somewhere in all that goodness, lurks a bowl (or plate, if you go with the jellied version) of cranberry sauce. It’s sharp, tart, and even a little bitter. The bold color and taste cut through all of that luxury and make it that much better!

But if you’ve been buying cranberry sauce at the store, you’re missing out! Yes, the pre-made kind is good… but homemade is even better, and guess what? It’s super easy. Probably the easiest holiday dish you can make!

In this version, cranberries aren’t the only star; I add sweet apples and a touch of orange juice. The three fruit flavors blend perfectly. You’ll never get store-bought again, if you try this one out!

If you are looking for a homemade cranberry sauce with just cranberries, no apples, make sure and check out my Cranberry Orange Relish recipe as well! It’s a little different than this version, but just as delicious with lots of orange zest!

How do you get the bitterness out of cranberry sauce?

You might be thinking that cranberry sauce is too strong and bitter for your taste, but I really encourage you to try this recipe. It might just change your mind! Using sweeter apples counters the tartness of the cranberries, and by adjusting the sugar level to suit your palate, you can make this easy side dish a welcome addition to your table!

Clockwise from top: fresh cranberries, Fuji apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, orange juice.

What You’ll Need

Even a “fancier” cranberry sauce like this one is super-simple. All you need are five basic ingredients! (For the specific amounts, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.)

  • Cranberries: Fresh or frozen cranberries are fine. 
  • Apples: I use Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and diced. You can use any sweet apple you like, though!
  • Orange Juice: Orange juice and cranberries are a classic combination! You can use juice with pulp or no pulp, whichever you have on hand!
  • Brown Sugar: Dark brown sugar helps to combat the tartness of the cranberries. Be sure to pack it into the measuring cup as you measure it out.
  • Cinnamon: I love cinnamon in my cranberry sauce, but you can definitely leave it out if you prefer!

How to Make Apple Cranberry Sauce

Okay, so this section is going to be so short it’s almost funny! Really, all there is to making cranberry sauce is a) simmer, and b) serve. That’s it!

  1. Simmer the Cranberry Sauce Ingredients. Place the cranberries, diced apples, orange juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon into a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the berries have popped and cooked down to a jelly-like consistency. This should take about 15-20 minutes. If it boils too rapidly and looks like it might scorch, turn down the heat to low.
  2. Cool and Serve. Take the simmered sauce off of the heat and set aside to cool. Serve warm or room temperature.

Tips for Success

There are a few ways to tweak this recipe for your own family! Here are some of my favorite tips for making it your own:

  1. Swap the Orange Juice: You can use water, apple juice, or really whatever you like in place of the orange juice. Try grape!
  2. Crush the Cranberries and Apples. Gently mashing and crushing the mixture while it cooks helps you get a softer, more blended cranberry sauce instead of a chunky sauce.
  3. Make a Jellied Sauce: If you like a jellied sauce, just strain the sauce well through a sieve, mashing it with a spoon to force it through. The skins and some pulp will be left behind, and the strained sauce can be chilled in order to gel.
A plate with slices of roast turkey topped with cranberry sauce.

Serving Suggestions

Everyone’s holiday meal looks a little bit different, doesn’t it? But whatever you serve—ham or turkey, or neither; stuffing, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, none of the above—I hope you try including homemade cranberry sauce. It really is a special, and easy, taste of the season!

  • Turkey: Cranberry sauce is a perfect match for old-fashioned, whole Roast Turkey. It’s easier than you might think! This recipe delivers the juicy, crispy goods.
  • Stuffed Squash: A beautiful acorn squash, halved and stuffed with colorful rice stuffing? This easy recipe for Stuffed Acorn Squash is a must for holiday dinners.
  • Green Bean Casserole: The best veggie casserole, made 100% from scratch! Homemade Green Bean Casserole is one of our family’s absolute favorites.
A close-up shot of the cranberry sauce mixture in a serving spoon.

How to Store Leftovers

You should store leftover cranberry sauce in the refrigerator, in an airtight container to keep it as fresh as possible. It will stay good for about 3 days. Serve leftover cranberry sauce cold, or gently reheat it over low heat in a saucepan.

More Holiday Side Dishes

Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of my favorite holidays and I have shared so many of our family recipes over the years. If you are looking for some more foolproof holiday side dish recipes, check out these favorites:

Can You Freeze Apple Cranberry Sauce?

Yes, you can! Just pack the cranberry sauce into freezer bags or containers, and freeze it for up to 4 months.

A serving dish filled with homemade cranberry apple sauce, garnished with orange zest.
4.4 from 14 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 2 cups (4 – 6 servings)

Apple Cranberry Sauce

Sweet and tart, fresh homemade Apple Cranberry Sauce is the vibrant side dish your holiday table needs! It’s wholesome, beautiful, and super easy to make. You’ll love the combination of sweet Fuji apples and real cranberries.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


  • 1 bag, 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  • Add all ingredients to a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the berries have popped and cooked down to a jelly-like consistency, about 15-20 minutes.
  • You can gently mash the mixture to help break up the apples and cranberries.
  • If the mixture is bubbling too rapidly, turn down the heat and simmer until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Cool and serve.



Serving: 1, Calories: 233kcal, Carbohydrates: 58g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 12mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 51g


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Can you make this a day before?

Can you make this a day earlier?

Can honey or maple syrup be used to substitute for the sugar?

Can you use light brown sugar?

Can this done in a crockpot? If so how many hrs

Can you can this recipe ?

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For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.