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Homemade Cranberry Sauce With Dried Cranberries

Cranberry sauce is the perfect accompaniment to any roast dinner. Whether it be a Christmas dinner or a Thanksgiving meal, or even just a special Sunday, this easy recipe for delicious homemade cranberry jam with dried cranberries is simple to make with easy to find ingredients so you can make it any time of the year and not just for Cranberry season.

An overhead view of a bowl of cranberry sauce surrounded by decorative items such as red napkins, fresh oranges and cinnamon sticks.

What Makes This Recipe Great!

  • A Few Simple Ingredients – With basic ingredients that are easy to find any time of the year, you can have a lovely addition to your roast or thanksgiving dinner that tastes better than shop-bought versions.
  • Great for Storage – The great thing about is easy cranberry sauce recipe is that it stores well. You can keep it for at least a year.
  • Give It As a Gift – Fresh homemade cranberry sauce that has been canned in a decorative mason jar, makes a great edible gift to give to your friends and family alone or as part of a Christmas hamper.

About This Recipe – In More Detail

Depending on the time of year, fresh cranberries aren’t always easy to come by. Meaning, if you want to make your own cranberry sauce, you have to batch cook and plan ahead, storing cranberry sauce for the year ahead.

An great way to avoid this is to use dried cranberries, like we have here. All we have to do is rehydrate the cranberries in boiling water first and then then heat them with a mixture of fresh orange juice and sugar, to offset the tartness of the cranberries. I flavour this homemade cranberry sauce with a hint of cinnamon spice and orange zest. You then have a delicious helping of Cranberry jam that’s made with simple ingredients, and can be incorporated into your holiday meal or Sunday roast with ease.

I especially love this cranberry relish when making leftover Turkey sandwiches on Boxing day after Christmas or to accompany our Turkey en Croute with a side of Cornflour Roast Potatoes. You can even go for a vegetarian option and serve it with this Nut Roast Recipe too!

A front view of cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a spoon in it. The bowl is surrounded by decorative items.

Equipment Needed

  • Medium Saucepan: You’ll need a Medium/Large saucepan to cook the cranberries and sugar mixture. Ensure it’s big enough to accommodate all the ingredients without overflowing.
  • Heatproof Bowl: This is used for rehydrating the dried cranberries. It should be heatproof to withstand the boiling water.
  • Clingfilm: Use clingfilm to cover the heatproof bowl while rehydrating the cranberries. This traps the steam and helps plump up the cranberries.
  • Jam Thermometer: A jam thermometer is useful to check the temperature of the cranberry mixture. It ensures the jam sets properly. If you don’t have one, you can visually check for setting, but a thermometer provides precision.
  • Serving Dish: If you plan to serve the cranberry jam straight away, you’ll need a decorative serving dish or a small bowl. 
  • Sterilised Jars: You’ll need clean, sterilised jars for storing the cranberry sauce. Sterilising jars ensures the sauce remains safe for consumption over time.
  • Food Processor/Hand Blender: If you prefer a smooth sauce you can use a food processor to blend it once it has cooled a little.

Ingredients

A labelled photo of all the ingredients needed to make cranberry sauce with dried cranberries.
  • Dried Cranberries: The main ingredient, these dried berries provide the fruity and slightly tart base for the cranberry sauce.
  • Golden Caster Sugar: Used to sweeten the cranberries and create the syrup-like consistency of the sauce. You can use white sugar or brown sugar for a deeper flavour if you’d prefer.
  • Cinnamon Stick: Cinnamon sticks add a warm, fragrant, and slightly spicy flavour to the cranberry sauce.
  • Large Orange (Zest and Juice): The zest and juice of the orange contribute citrusy notes, aroma, and a fresh, bright flavour to the sauce.

To Make Cranberry Jam From Fresh Cranberries

If you are making this cranberry during the fall season or festive season for a holiday meal, fresh cranberries can be a lot easier to find in the supermarket or grocery store. You can therefore, use fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe if you wish.

All you need to do is use more cranberries! Up the amount of fresh cranberries to 300g and omit the soaking time in boiling water and don’t add in the extra cup of boiling water as the cranberries will be juicy enough. Follow these steps and you’re good to go!

You can use fresh cranberries straight from frozen too, there’s no need to defrost first.


Step-By-Step Guide – How To Make Cranberry Sauce With Dried Cranberries

Step 1: Rehydrate Cranberries

  • Begin by rehydrating the cranberries. Place them into a heatproof bowl.
  • Cover the cranberries with boiling water, then cover the bowl with clingfilm to trap the steam.
  • Leave them to stand for about 30 minutes. This will plump up the cranberries and make them ready to use.
A glass bowl filled with dried cranberries that have been covered in boiling water.
The cranberries soaking in a glass bowl that has be covered in clingfilm.

Step 2: Drain Cranberries

  • After 30 minutes, scoop away any floating or loose seeds and discard. Drain the cranberries and set them aside.
An overhead view of the cranberries still in the water but after 30 minutes of soaking time.
The rehydrated cranberries in a white bowl.

Step 3: Preparing Sugar and Orange Juice

  • In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and fresh orange juice.
  • Heat it gently until the added sugar starts to dissolve.
An overhead view of a large saucepan on a stove with orange juice and caster sugar inside.
An overhead view of a hand stirring the sugar and orange juice together inside a saucepan.

Step 4: Adding Cranberries, Cinnamon Stick, and Orange Zest

  • Add the rehydrated cranberries, the cinnamon stick, and the orange zest to the saucepan.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil. Add a cup of boiling water.
An overhead view of the saucepan containing all the ingredients needed to make the cranberry sauce.
An overhead view of a hand pouring in boiling water from a green cup into the cranberry jam in a saucepan.

Step 5: Simmering

  • Once the mixture is bubbling, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Stir occasionally to prevent the jam from sticking.

Step 6: Checking Doneness

  • To ensure the jam sets properly once cooled, you can check for doneness using a jam thermometer.
  • The mixture should reach a temperature of 105°C (220°F).
An overhead view of a hand using a sugar thermometer to check the temperature of the jam.
A hand is using a blue spatula to stir the cranberry sauce to prevent it sticking to the pan.

Step 7: Removing Cinnamon Stick and Cooling

  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and take out the cinnamon stick.
  • Place the cranberry sauce into a food processor or use a hand blender to blend the sauce until it reaches your preferred consistency.
  • Serve once the sauce cools completely. 
A hand is holding the cup of a blender that has been filled with the cooked cranberry sauce.
A bowl of the blended cranberry sauce.

Step 8: Storing

  • To store the cranberry sauce, place it into sterilized jars.

FAQ

Can I use powdered cinnamon instead of a cinnamon stick?

Yes, you can use powdered cinnamon, but adjust the amount to taste. A cinnamon stick provides a milder and more subtle flavour.

Can I substitute orange zest for lemon zest?

While lemon zest can be used, it will impart a different citrus flavour to the sauce. Orange zest provides a brighter and more complimentary taste.

How can I make the sauce less sweet?

You can adjust the sweetness by adding less sugar at the beginning or by using alternative sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup, to taste.

A front view of the cranberry sauce in a white bowl with decorative items in the background.

Pro Tips and Guidance

  • Zest First: Zest the orange before juicing it. This ensures you capture all the fragrant citrus oils from the skin.
  • Watch the Sugar: It’s important to keep a close eye on your jam and not to rush it, you don’t want the ingredients on the bottom to stick and burn, otherwise it will ruin your whole batch. I recommend using a silicone spatula to stir it as this will help to scrape the bottom of the pan fully and mix the jam up before things begin to stick.
  • Doneness Test: Be aware that cranberry sauce like other fruit jams, will thicken as it cools. You want to avoid overcooking it as you will end up with a jam that is too thick and rubbery in texture. If you want to be really precise, I recommend using a jam thermometer and allowing the mixture to reach 105°C (220°F), you can be sure it will set if this temperature is achieved. If you prefer a more runny consistency, aim for a slightly lower temperature upon completion.
  • Cool Before Serving: Allowing the sauce to cool completely before serving gives it time to thicken and intensify its flavours.

A hand is scooping some cranberry sauce out of a jar using a silver spoon.

Storage

Storage: Store the cranberry sauce in sealed and sterilised jars for up to a year. Alternatively, you can store leftover cranberry sauce in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 1-2 weeks to maintain freshness.

Freezing: Cranberry sauce can be frozen for longer storage. Transfer it to an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag, leaving some room for expansion. Label with the date, and it can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Defrosting: For thawing, move the cranberry sauce from the freezer to the fridge. Allow it to defrost slowly overnight or for at least 8 hours. Once thawed, consume within 2 weeks for the best flavour and texture.

Note: Dried cranberry sauce can be safely frozen, but it may change in texture slightly when defrosting. Stir well to regain its original consistency.


Check Out These Roast Dinner Recipes

An overhead view of the unsliced Turkey en croute on a wooden chopping board. It is surrounded by some decorative items including a pot of cranberry sauce and some plates and forks.

Turkey En Croute

A delicious and impressive centrepiece for the festive season. A puff pastry parcel filled with Turkey, streaky bacon and stuffing.

Overhead view of a white bowl filled with roast potatoes, surrounded by decorative items like berries and red napkins inside napkin rings.

Crispy Roast Potatoes with Corn Flour

In this step by step guide we walk you through making the crispiest roast potatoes with a soft, fluffy inside.

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Nut Roast with Marmite

A vegetarian alternative to serve for a roast dinner, which goes perfectly with cranberry sauce.

Download your Free Fridge/Freezer Inventory and Checklist

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Overhead view of cranberry sauce in a white bowl, surrounded by ingredients and decorative items.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce With Dried Cranberries

5 from 4 votes
A Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner isn't complete without cranberry sauce on the side. This Cranberry Sauce recipe is made using dried cranberries, so you can make it any time of the year. It's so easy to make and is full of flavour. You won't want to buy it readymade ever again.
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Course: dip, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, British
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Soaking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 151kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 225 g Dried Cranberries
  • 115 g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 Large Orange, Zest and Juice
  • 1 Cup Boiling Water

Instructions

  • Begin by rehydrating the cranberries. Place them into a heatproof bowl and cover them with boiling water.
  • Cover the bowl with clingfilm to trap the steam and leave it to stand for about 30 minutes. This will plump up the cranberries and make them ready to use.
  • Scoop out any loose and floating seeds and discard them, then drain the cranberries and set them aside.
  • In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and fresh orange juice. Heat it gently until the sugar starts to dissolve. Add in the cup of boiling water.
  • Add the rehydrated cranberries, the cinnamon stick, and the orange zest to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Once the mixture is bubbling, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the jam from sticking.
  • To ensure the jam sets properly once cooled, you can check for doneness using a jam thermometer. The mixture should reach a temperature of 105°C (220°F).
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and take out the cinnamon stick.
  • Allow the cranberry sauce to cool completely before serving.
  • To store, place the cranberry sauce into sterilised jars.

Recipe Notes

  • Zest First: Capture the full citrus aroma by zesting the orange before juicing.
  • Watch the Sugar: Avoid burning by stirring frequently; use a silicone spatula to scrape the pan.
  • Doneness Test: To achieve the right texture, cool slightly; for precision, use a jam thermometer.
  • Cool Before Serving: Letting the sauce cool enhances flavours and thickens it perfectly.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 38IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.2mg

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