Simple Cranberry Sauce

This is easier than opening up a can. OK, maybe not, but it sure does taste better. And your kids can help! In 2001, I obtained 9 cups of organic cranberries, cooked them up, and canned just under 6 pints of cranberry sauce for the season. Yum! While making my own sauce isn't necessarily cheaper than buying it -- even organic -- it's fun, I know the berries are fresh, and I'll have a couple of pints left in the spring and summer when I won't be able to find sauce at the grocery store. Because this recipe calls for sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, the sauce has a truer cranberry flavor than commerical canned varieties. Enjoy!


  • by volume, two parts cranberries
  • by volume, one part water (or less)
  • by volume, one part tightly-packed brown sugar (read this first)


Rinse the berries and remove stems, but don't take too much trouble. Place them in the water, add sugar, and boil them lightly until all the berries have popped open, stirring frequently to make sure the sugar doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook and keep stirring until the sauce has thickened to your preferred consistency, on medium heat.

Get your kids involved! Place your kid on a seek-and-destroy mission to find all the unpopped berries and mash them against the side of the pan. Important: The sauce will become very hot as it cooks, so please determine whether this is an age-appropriate cooking task for your child. As the berries pop, they can spatter hot, staining juice outside the pan!

Chill overnight in the fridge and serve cold OR ladle the hot sauce into clean, hot jars and process pints in a boiling-water canner for fifteen minutes, half-pints for ten minutes.


Sauce takes about 20 minutes to prepare. It may take longer if you prefer a thicker sauce. A lovely couple in British Columbia e-mailed me in 2002 to say that their sauce was terribly watery. I'm afraid I haven't encountered that result, so I advised them to cook it down to a thickness they liked. It seems to have worked for them!

Regarding canning: Please familiarize yourself with general guidelines for home canning; unfortunately a detailed guide to canning foods is beyond the scope of this recipe index. This recipe has been tested using modern two-piece caps and rings (Kerr, Ball, Bernardin) and a water-bath canner. It has not been tested with older-style canning lids and methods (in fact, I'm extra cautious and use only lids I've purchased in the last 12 months). So if you use a different method than mine and find that your sauce hasn't sealed properly, I can't help you. Please can safely! Don't waste your time, money, or health by cutting corners! For more home canning information, please see the following websites: North Dakota State University Extension Service or Michigan State University Extension.

Also: Does anyone have a jelly recipe to share? I'd love to include instructions for a home-made sauce that slips out of a straight-sided canning jar just like the "store-boughten" kind.

Also: You can probably reduce the sugar a little and still have a safe sauce to preserve. I think the acid content, combined with a minimum 15-minute processing time for pints, will preserve the sauce safely. If you find a proven canning recipe that calls for less sugar, please share it with me! I'll be happy to credit you on this page.

The recipe will yield about two parts sauce, by volume, for three parts raw cranberries. Recipe is easily doubled.

Brown sugar adds a great flavor to this sauce. Plain table sugar works but I prefer brown sugar, even for canning this sauce.

When preparing this recipe and any other food you enjoy, please use organically-grown vegetables, fruits, grains, and flavorings. The Earth you save may be your own.