Homemade Cranberry Sauce Without Orange Juice Recipe

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by Maggie Turansky

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If you’re more of a fan of fresh cranberry relish rather than the jellied kind that holds the shape of the can, it can be frustrating when seemingly every recipe for the stuff calls for either orange juice, orange zest or both – especially if, for whatever reason, you would like to make cranberry sauce without orange juice.

There is no denying that cranberry and orange go very well together – the citrus flavour really cuts the bitterness of these astringent berries.

However, I have developed a fantastic cranberry sauce recipe that is absolutely delicious and complex. In fact, I think it can even turn those who are cranberry-ambivalent into cranberry enthusiasts!

Regardless of whether it’s Thanksgiving morning, the shops are all closed and you’ve forgotten to buy an orange or if you (or one of your guests) need to avoid citrus (see also my hollandaise without lemon!), then this recipe is for you! And don’t forget to pair your cranberries with some delicious chicken gravy (no pan drippings required!) or my plant-based porcini mushroom gravy!

Cranberry Sauce Without Orange Juice
Cranberry Sauce

How to Make Cranberry Sauce Without Orange Juice

This fresh cranberry sauce is super easy to make and comes together in about twenty minutes. It’s also the ultimate make-ahead dish as it will last in the fridge for at least a week (if not more).

Start by adding your fresh cranberries to a small saucepan. To the cranberries, add some white sugar and a couple of tablespoons of dark brown sugar, as well. The brown sugar adds a bit more complexity to the cranberry sauce than simply using white sugar.

Key ingredients for this cranberry sauce recipe
Key ingredients for this cranberry sauce recipe

To the pot, I also like to throw in a few whole spices in order to amp up the flavour of this sauce. I like to add a cinnamon stick, some cardamom pods and star anise. And to further add to the flavour, throw in a good-sized piece of fresh ginger, as well.

Next, pour over a bit of tawny port. This, again, adds to the flavour of the sauce and really highlights the fruitiness of the cranberries. If you don’t have port on hand, use a full-bodied red wine like a merlot or a shiraz – it won’t have the same flavour, however, it will add the same qualities.

Adding the ingredients to the pot
Adding the ingredients to the pot

If you’re looking to make cranberry sauce without alcohol, you can substitute this with 100% pomegranate juice or cherry juice – both will be delicious in this sauce.

Now, all you need to do is add a bit of water to the pot. Set it over medium heat and bring it to a simmer.

Cooking the cranberries
Cooking the cranberries

Allow the cranberry sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes, during which time you will notice the cranberries begin to burst and start to break down. Stir occasionally to ensure that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.

After another 5 or 10 minutes, the cranberries will have all burst and completely broken down. The sauce will thicken and turn to a jam-like consistency.

Cranberry sauce cooked down
Cranberry sauce cooked down

Once it reaches this stage, remove the cinnamon, cardamom, anise and ginger. Transfer the cranberries to a heatproof bowl and allow to cool completely before either serving or refrigerating.

And if you’re looking for another great side for Thanksgiving, check out my recipe for green beans & mushrooms with crispy shallots!

Cranberry Sauce Without Orange Juice

Cranberry Sauce Without Orange Juice

This flavourful cranberry sauce doesn't use oranges or any citrus products!
4.7 from 7 votes
Servings 6
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 225 g (2 ¼ cups) fresh cranberries
  • 65 g ( cup) sugar granulated or caster
  • 25 g (2 tbsp) dark brown sugar packed
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) tawny port or full-bodied red wine (see note)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-5 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cm (¾ in) piece fresh ginger


  • In a small saucepan, add cranberries, both sugars, port, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, star anise and ginger. Pour over 60ml (1/4 cup) water, stir to combine and set over medium heat.
    Adding the ingredients to the pot
  • Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and begin to break down, about ten minutes. Cook for a further five minutes to allow the excess liquid to evaporate and the sauce to thicken.
    Cooking the cranberries
  • Remove the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, anise and ginger. Transfer to a heatproof dish and allow to cool completely before serving.
    Cranberry sauce cooked down



If you don't have port, a full-bodied red wine like a shiraz or merlot will work well here. For those who don't want to use alcohol, sub this with 100% pomegranate juice or cherry juice.


Calories: 92kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 69mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 25IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

Tried this recipe or have questions?Click here to leave a comment!

You can make an incredible cranberry sauce without using any orange juice or zest. In fact, this may well be the best cranberry sauce without any citrus you can find!

Are you making homemade cranberry sauce? Have any questions about this recipe? Let me know in the comments!

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Maggie is the creator behind No Frills Kitchen. She is a world traveller, home cook and recipe developer who loves to experiment with new cuisines and techniques at every chance she gets. No stranger to improvising and making do with the equipment and ingredients she has available, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. Read More


  1. I made this for Christmas Dinner yesterday. My family loved it, and my brother said it was the first cranberry sauce he had ever liked.

  2. I am home alone for Thanksgiving and had some frozen cranberries. This recipe is delicious. I substituted European cider for the wine. I didn’t have any brown sugar yet had molasses, so I “made” the brown sugar. So scrummy. Thank you.

4.72 from 7 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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