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Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

Homemade cranberry sauce with a touch of bourbon will be your new favorite part of turkey dinner! If you love cranberry sauce, try this recipe and you will never go back to canned.

a glass bowl with homemade cranberry sauce inside and orange zest grated on top

Why We Love this Recipe

  • it takes very little effort, but has way more flavor than canned cranberry sauce
  • you can make it well ahead of time so it wont make turkey dinner more work
  • the touch of bourbon and orange has killer flavor
  • homemade is always better for you than processed

Ingredients You Need

  • cranberries – you can use fresh or frozen
  • orange juice – squeeze this yourself, its easy and fresh is always the best. Plus you get a little pulp.
  • maple syrup – we liked the flavor that a little maple syrup gave to the sauce
  • brown sugar
  • bourbon – we used a maple bourbon, but any will work
a small pot of fresh cranberries

Other Ingredients You Could Try

  • vanilla
  • white sugar
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg or other spices…
  • rum instead of bourbon
  • or you could try grand marnier or brandy

Can I Use Frozen Cranberries Instead of Fresh Cranberries?

Totally. Both will work great. If you can find fresh, use them. If not, use frozen, no big deal. If you use frozen cranberries, you don’t have to defrost them first.

a pot of fresh cranberries with orange pulp on top from fresh orange juice

How to Make this Recipe

Making cranberry sauce from scratch is so quick and easy. You add all the ingredients to a small pot, turn on the heat, bring it to a simmer and simmer gently for 10 mins. Stir it often.

And that’s it.

The last thing you do is remove the cranberries from the heat and let them cool down a bit, then add a tablespoon or two more of the bourbon.

The extra bourbon is optional, but it blends all in the sauce while it cooks and it tastes really nice so adding a touch more at the end when the sauce has cooled slightly just enhances the bourbon flavor nicely.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I make cranberry sauce without sugar?

Sure! But you will need some sweetness so you could try maple syrup or honey.

How do you make cranberry sauce less tart?

The only way to make the sauce less tart is to add a little more sweetness with sugar, maple syrup, or honey. If your sauce is too tart, add a teaspoon or two of the sweetener of your choice at a time. Then stir and taste before you add more.

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

Absolutely. Freeze any leftover or extra sauce in an airtight container. It will be good for up to 3 months or so. You could probably push it a couple more.

We recommend storing in a glass container or a silicone zip lock bag.

Can cranberry sauce be made in advance?

Yes! 100%. You can make your sauce a few days in advance of when you need it. In fact, this is what we recommend. Making it in advance of your big dinner, makes less work on your big turkey dinner day!

a small pot of homemade cranberry sauce after boiling

Ideas for Using Your Homemade Sauce

Check out these recipes where this sauce makes them even better!

Other Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

These are our favorite thanksgiving dinner recipes, we hope one of them becomes your family favorite too.

homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest grated on top

If you’ve tried this homemade cranberry sauce recipe then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let us know how it turned out in the comments below.  We love hearing from you! 

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

Homemade cranberry sauce with a touch of bourbon will be your new favorite part of turkey dinner!
4 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: cranberry sauce recipe, cranberry sauce with bourbon, homemade cranberry sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 16 2 tbsp servings or 2 cups
Calories: 75kcal
Author: Julie & Debbie


  • 12 oz fresh cranberries (or 350 grams)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice about 2 1/2 oranges
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp bourbon


  • Add all the ingredients except 1 tbsp of the bourbon to a small or medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 mins.
  • Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly. Add a little more bourbon, a teaspoon at a time, until you get the flavor that you like. This is optional too, you could just leave it the way it is.
  • When completely cool, store in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.


Serving: 2tbsp | Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g

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