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Pineapple Orange Cranberry Sauce

This easy homemade Pineapple Orange Cranberry Sauce is the perfect combination of sweet and tart with a hint of vanilla. It’s a must-have Thanksgiving side dish that is sure to be a hit!

If you’ve never made homemade cranberry sauce, you should definitely give it a try this Thanksgiving. It’s quick and easy to make, and the taste is so, so, so much better than anything you can get in a can.

Plus, you can make it advance – so one less thing to do on the big day!

I made traditional cranberry sauce for years. You’ve got to have it in on your Thanksgiving table, right? It’s a classic.

The thing was, there might be one or two people who took a spoonful (nope, I was not one of them), and that was it. The bowl would sit there lonely, full and forgotten.

But why? It was homemade, and it looked so beautiful with that deep red color and bits of cranberries.

For me, it was the super sharp tartness of the cranberries that kept me away. I figured it was probably the same for everyone else who passed it by.

Well, I wasn’t going to stop making it – I can be stubborn like that – so I decided to change it up a bit and make a cranberry sauce that everyone would want to eat!

white bowl full of fresh cranberries with cranberries scattered on the table

I started with fresh cranberries. You can usually find them in the grocery store at this time of the year, but frozen cranberries will also work if that’s all you can find.

Instead of water, I used orange juice to cook the cranberries, along with some sugar to sweeten things up. Fresh-squeezed orange juice is always best (as long as the oranges are ripe and sweet – you don’t want to add to the tartness here), but you can absolutely use bottled orange juice (I often do).

After the cranberries burst and got slightly thick, I stirred in a can of crushed pineapple (my favorite fruit) and a splash of vanilla.

And we have ourselves a winner here – a sweeter, more mellow cranberry sauce that is absolutely delicious, like I-wanna-eat-a-spoonful-just-because-it’s-so-good delicious!

This is the cranberry sauce that made me LOVE cranberry sauce, and now it disappears off my Thanksgiving table!

white bowl full of pineapple orange cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries scattered around the  bowl

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED:

  • Canned crushed pineapple
  • Fresh cranberries (you can also use frozen)
  • Orange juice (freshly squeezed or bottled)
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract

HERE’S A QUICK LOOK AT HOW TO MAKE PINEAPPLE ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE:

three images showing steps to make pineapple orange cranberry sauce
three images showing steps to make pineapple orange cranberry sauce
three images showing how to make pineapple orange cranberry sauce

Keep in mind that the cranberry sauce will thicken quite a bit more as it cools and chills, so you don’t want to cook it until it is very thick. 10 minutes should do the trick, just until the cranberries have burst and the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly.

I mash my cranberries after they cook because I prefer a less chunky sauce, but if you would rather more of a whole-cranberry cranberry sauce, go ahead and leave them as is.

This cranberry sauce definitely benefits from chilling out in the refrigerator for a while before serving. The flavors really blend and come together, everything mellows out, and it just gets better.

I recommend making it ahead of time – at least several hours, but the day before is even better (bonus: one less thing to do the day of!).

You can also make it way ahead of time and freeze it! After it cools completely, put it in a freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and then freeze up to 2 months. Just thaw it out in the refrigerator the day before Thanksgiving, and you’ll be good to go!

spoonful of pineapple orange cranberry sauce being taken out of a bowl

If you have any cranberry sauce left over, it’s great on leftover turkey sandwiches (a grilled turkey, cranberry, and brie sandwich is amazing!), or you can put it in muffins, quick breads, make cranberry oatmeal bars, add it to smoothies, or swirl it into oatmeal or yogurt. Lots of possibilities!

I hope you try this recipe for Pineapple Orange Cranberry Sauce and that you – and those gathering at your Thanksgiving table – love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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pineapple orange cranberry sauce in a white bowl garnished with orange and pineapple

Pineapple Orange Cranberry Sauce

This easy homemade Pineapple Orange Cranberry Sauce is the perfect combination of sweet and tart with a hint of vanilla. It's a must-have Thanksgiving side dish that is sure to be a hit!
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 (¼ cup each – recipe makes about 3 cups total)
Calories: 112
Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!

Ingredients

  • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, frozen cranberries can also be used
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed or bottled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Drain the pineapple; set aside. Discard the juice or save it to use in another recipe.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, and orange juice. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to a low boil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have burst and the mixture has thickened slightly. Note: The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools, so you do not need to cook it until it is very thick.
  • Remove from the heat. If you would like a less chunky sauce, mash the cranberries with a potato masher to the desired consistency.
  • Add the drained crushed pineapple and vanilla extract; stir to combine.
  • Transfer the cranberry sauce to a bowl. Cover and allow to cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

  • The flavor of this cranberry sauce improves as it sits in the refrigerator and chills. Therefore, I would recommend making it the day before (or at least several hours before) you want to serve it. You could also make it ahead of time and freeze it.
  • Store cranberry sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one to two weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months. 
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