Homemade Cranberry Sauce With Orange Juice & Pomegranate Seeds
Bright, sweet, tart, and irresistibly chunky, this delectable recipe for Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice and Pomegranate Seeds is a welcome addition to any holiday table. Made with just 4 ingredients in less than 25 minutes, this fresh cranberry orange sauce is the super simple side kick every turkey needs.
Why I Love This Recipe
Bursting with the sweet-tart flavor of fresh cranberries, bright oranges, and juicy pops of pomegranate arils, this cranberry sauce ain’t the jiggly jellied canned cranberry sauce I grew up eating in the 80s. (No offense, Mom! 😂) In short, it is sure to be a hit with your family and friends at your next holiday gathering.
My orange cranberry pomegranate sauce is the perfect condiment for serving with my Fig-Spiced Turkey, but you just might want to double the recipe. It’s also beautiful for spreading on your breakfast biscuits and scones or to make Thanksgiving leftover Turkey and Cranberry Croissant Sandwiches.
Luckily, making a double batch is just as easy as making a single one — all you need are 4 simple ingredients, one pot, and about 25 minutes in the kitchen. How great is that?!? This recipe for homemade cranberry sauce also happens to be naturally vegan and gluten-free, so you can share it with just about everyone.
As an added bonus, you can make this fresh cranberry sauce way in advance of your big event (it lasts in the freezer for up to a year!!), meaning you’ll have one less thing to worry about. Make it a few days, weeks, or even months before your dinner, then sprinkle with some pomegranate seeds and fresh orange zest when you’re ready to serve.
Ingredients & Substitutions
As promised, you only need 4 simple ingredients to make this cranberry pomegranate sauce with oranges. Here’s what to grab:
- Cranberries – I love stocking up on fresh cranberries while they are in season — they’re only on shelves for about 2 months out of the year, but they last for weeks in the fridge or can be frozen for several months! You’re also welcome to use frozen cranberries if you prefer.
- Navel Oranges – You’ll make this cranberry sauce with orange juice, zest, and segments for a triple whammy of bright, citrusy sunshine. Feel free to swap in your preferred variety of oranges (e.g. Cara Cara). You’re also welcome to use smaller clementines or tangerines, but use two for each orange that is called for.
- Sugar – I used plain white granulated sugar, but you’re welcome to swap in light or dark brown sugar, grated piloncillo, or coconut sugar for a more pronounced molasses flavor.
- Pomegranate Seeds – Also known as “arils,” these are the bright red jewels you get from pomegranate fruit. If you’re unfamiliar with how to handle this ruby red beauty, check out my tutorial for how to deseed your pomegranate!
How to make Orange Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce
This fresh cranberry pomegranate sauce comes together in just a few simple moves. Here’s how:
Step 1: Mix the cranberries, orange segments, orange juice, and sugar in a large saucepan.
Step 2: Cook and stir over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until berries pop and the mixture is thickened.
Step 3: Add pomegranate seeds; cook 2 minutes longer.
Step 4: Finish. Remove the orange cranberry sauce from the heat. Stir in orange zest (using a zester) and additional pomegranate seeds. Serve warm or chilled. Enjoy!
While I love this garnet-hued orange pomegranate cranberry sauce just the way it is, there is always room for you to make customizations to fit your needs and preferences. Here are a few variations to consider:
- Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce – If you need to make a diabetic-friendly version of this recipe, simply swap in your favorite cup-for-cup sugar alternative (e.g. Truvia Sweet Complete).
- Jellied Cranberry Sauce – If you prefer your cranberry sauce to be a bit smoother, feel free to blend it in a blender (or using an immersion blender) while it is still warm from the stove.
- Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce – Add some extra zippiness by grating in an inch or two of fresh ginger in step 1.
- Spicy Cranberry Sauce – If you’re someone who likes it hot, feel free to add in a finely chopped and seeded jalapeño (kinda spicy), serrano (even spicier), or habanero (super spicy). You’re also welcome to use a chipotle in adobo sauce for a jalapeño level of spice with a touch of smokiness.
This homemade cranberry sauce with orange and pomegranate seeds is delightful in many different applications. Here are a few ways I love to use it:
- Served with my other must-have dishes for Thanksgiving or on my leftover Smoked Turkey and Cranberry Croissant Sandwich.
- Spread on Cheddar and Green Chile Scones or Galletas de Suero (Buttermilk Biscuits) as a tasty side.
- Spooned over Baked Brie as an appetizer.
- Stirred into a bowl of Avena (Oatmeal) or spread on toast for breakfast.
- Served as a jam on a festive Charcuterie Board or Christmas Tree Cheese Board.
Storage & Freezing Instructions
This cranberry pomegranate sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. It can also be frozen for up to one year. (I highly recommend these plastic containers for freezing). Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- Sort your cranberries. Make sure you give the berries a good once over while you’re rinsing them and remove any mushy or molded fruit before proceeding.
- Only zest the bright parts. Once you get to the white pith, citrus skin becomes quite bitter.
- To get the most juice from your orange, give it a firm roll on the countertop for 10-15 seconds before cutting into it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since cranberries are naturally high in pectin, they’ll help to thicken the orange pomegranate sauce as it cooks. That said, the cranberry sauce will be thicker when it is cold than when it is hot. I like serving it both ways! If you want it to be very thick, I recommend refrigerating it for a minimum of 3 hours after cooking.
If the cranberry sauce tastes too tart or verging on bitter, feel free to add a few more spoonfuls of sugar while it cooks. If you are trying to sweeten it after you’re done cooking and don’t want to reheat it, opt for a liquid sweetener like maple syrup or agave to prevent it from tasting grainy.
More Recipes For Cranberry Lovers
Cranberry Sauce With Orange Juice & Pomegranate Seeds
- 1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries, rinsed
- 1 medium navel orange, peeled and sectioned
- 1 medium navel orange, zest and juice
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- In a large saucepan, combine the cranberries, orange segments, orange juice, and sugar.
- Cook and stir over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until berries pop and the mixture is thickened. Stir in pomegranate seeds; cook 2 minutes longer.
- Remove from the heat; stir in orange zest and additional pomegranate seeds. Serve warm or chilled.
- This recipe makes 2 1/2 cups cranberry sauce.
- This cranberry pomegranate sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. It can also be frozen for up to one year. (I highly recommend these plastic containers for freezing). Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Photography: Jenna Sparks
Originally published: November 2017