How to Cook Fresh Cranberries

Fresh Cranberries

Fresh Cranberries

Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants – five times as much a broccoli! They can help prevent urinary tract infections, boost your immune system, improve circulation, and their flavonoids can help lower bad cholesterol. And recipes don't get any easier than this. - Jenny Jones

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 1 1/2 cups

Fresh Cranberries


  • 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  1. Sort the berries and discard any that are soft or spoiled.
  2. Wash the berries.
  3. Place in a saucepan and stir in water and sugar.
  4. Bring to a boil & cook uncovered for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is foamy and popping stops. It will thicken when cooled.
  5. Cool at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.

Fresh Cranberries

30 Comments on "Fresh Cranberries"

  1. Kathleen

    I grew up in central WI where there were cranberry bogs all over the place. One reason that you want to sort out the cranberries, is because the whitetail deer like cranberries and frequent the bogs. Guess what deer do while eating? Yep. they poop. I’m not sure if this is true today, as I haven’t seen any recently, but the machines that sorted the cranberries from the ‘debris’ couldn’t tell the difference between the cranberries and the poop. (Hence, sorting the cranberries…)

  2. Zoe

    I use fresh cranberries and flavor the cranberries even more by using low calorie cranberry juice cocktail to cook the cranberries along with the sugar. I also put fresh, minced, peeled ginger (1 tablespoon) in them and 1/2 cup dried apricot halves cut into 1/4 inch strips and soaked in the cranberry juice cocktail for 10 minutes before cooking to soften. After they are cooked I add a little cinnamon. Delicious!

  3. Elliott

    Hi Jenny; I have been using a lot of your recipes. Many are like I have been doing for over sixty years since I was 13! Your Cranberry Sauce is the same as mine, except I use Orange Juice in place of Water!!! Takes it up a notch or two!!!

  4. Randi Bagley-Goodwin

    Great recipe! My first time doing anything with fresh cranberries and it was a smash! Will be making anytime I find fresh 9nes!

  5. Lynnae

    This is a wonderful a wonderful recipe! Thank you and God bless!!

  6. Sparkle

    Thank you glad I stopped by, it was a pleasant surprise to see you, used to watch your talk show all the time. Your recipe is very simple. Thank you.

  7. Mary

    Who knew it was so easy! I added a cinnamon stick when boiling, a few drops vanilla and a squeeze of a fresh picked sweet lemon. Yum

    • Lourdes

      Never thought of cinnamon, but combined with vanilla & lemon, I imagine it would be delicious! Going to try soon. Ty!

  8. John

    Thanks Jenny! As a single dad this was so easy to make and the kids loved it.

  9. Karen

    I add grated orange peel to this to give it that Cranberry Orange taste. So good! Jenny I make your wedding cookies for Christmas every year! Trust me they don’t last lol

    I used to watch your show and still love you.

    Thank you

  10. Jess

    Can this be recipe be done with other berries? Blackberries? How long is the storage time – refrigerated?

    • Jenny

      Other berries may not thicken like cranberries unless you add a thickener like pectin. And then you would essentially be making jam. The cranberries keep nicely for a week.

      • Jess

        Thanks Jenny

        • Lois B in So. California

          This is already close to whole berry cranberry sauce in the can, except the cranberries will taste more like fresh fruit. If you want the liquid part to thicken more, mix a little corn starch in a little water to make a thin paste, mix in a little of the liquid from the pan, then mix it into the berries and juice, stirring until it simmers a bit and thickens. Trial and error will tell you how much to use to get the result you want. Less is better than more at the start. If you cook it too long, however, the berries will lose their “fresh fruit” texture, and yes, that makes it jam. You might want to remove most of the juice to a separate small saucepan and thicken it separately from the berries.”

          I have done this with other berries as well, but they are much more likely to end up as jam. You will probably want much less sugar with any other berry other than cranberries. I usually cook only part of my berries to get the juices flowing, thicken the sauce, then add the rest of the berries, stir a little, and turn off the heat. The hot sauce usually cooks the berries just enough. Strawberries might need a little more simmering if they are firm, not gushy ripe.

          In this “fruit compote” (that’s what my grandmother called it in her recipe from almost 100 years ago) regardless of what kind of fruit I use, I add a very, very, tiny pinch of cinnamon, (that would be less than 1/32 of one teaspoon, if anyone had a measuring spoon that small). The cinnamon seems to intensify the flavor of the fruit without adding noticeable flavor of its own.

          Worst case scenario, if you thicken too much, and/or cook it too long, you will end up with jam. Use as topping for ice cream, milk shakes or smoothies, pancake, waffle, French toast topping, or throw it in a blender or food processor, adding a little water if needed, and turn it into syrup for pancakes.

          Or, turn the heat back on, add more corn starch mixture, cook a little more, and get really tasty thick jam for toast or really tasty peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

  11. Susanne Jones

    Can I use sweetener instead of granulated sugar? If so, how much should I use? Thanks.

    • Jenny

      I have only made this recipe with sugar so I can’t advise. It’s better if you look for a recipe that’s already proven using sweetener.

      • Cathy

        Yes you can use Splenda or any other sweetener, use it the same as you would sugar

  12. Alissa

    This is a Thanksgiving staple now; I tell everyone I know to watch this video for the healthiest, easiest cranberry side recipe that exists. Thank you once again.

  13. Sophia

    Jenny,Could I make the cranberries with frozen cranberries instead of fresh cranberries?

    • Jenny

      Yes, you can. My recipe should work but it’s best to check the cooking directions on the package.

    • Joseph Robbins

      Yes you can use frozen I just did it this morning and it turned out awesome. Same cook time as fresh.

  14. Gloria Cabeen

    Hi Jenny,

    I recently discovered Dole frozen cranberries at the grocery store. Tonight I made your fresh cranberries and they were delicious. I had some leftover turkey cutlets, so…I used the cranberries frozen, weighing out 12 oz. from a 16 oz. package. It took a little longer to come to a boil, but came out great. I’m happy to have a recipe for homemade cranberry sauce or relish without a lot of sugar, so thanks!

  15. Dorothy

    I make my cranberry sauce the same as your, but I take 1 part cranberry and 1part “no sugar” applesauce and mix together for those who aren’t crazy for cranberry sauce. Yummy!!


      Try adding some crushed pineapple to the left over cranberries,it is delicious.i use that on ham Just blend all together and spread over the ham, You dont need alot of pineapple as it goes a long way. Enjoy! Also love your site Jenny, keep up the great recipes,

  16. Lou

    Just made your recipe and it’s marvelous!

  17. Reeve

    I had just stumble your blog over net and this image looks awesome. I don’t get access to cranberries at my present location but your simple recipe pulls me out of the comfort zone to find cranberries. I guess a bit of lemon does add some great taste and is also good for health.

  18. Rhonda E.

    I’ve made this and it’s so delicious…

  19. Debbie M.

    I too never use canned cranberries. I tried your recipe as I make mine heavier on the sugar. Yours is more tart, but we like it better.

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