Make Ahead Cranberry Sauce Recipe For a Crowd

This make-ahead cranberry sauce recipe combines both frozen and fresh cranberries for a perfect balance of textures and flavors. It is a holiday classic that will become a favorite at your holiday table. With simple ingredients and easy instructions, you can prepare this delicious cranberry sauce ahead of time to save you from the busy holidays.

Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce Recipe:

Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce For A Crowd

Tips and FAQs for Making the Perfect Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Main
Cuisine: Amercian
Keyword: Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce
Servings: 10 people


  • 24 oz cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp ginger


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the frozen and fresh cranberries, water, orange juice, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.
  • Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the cranberry mixture until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the orange zest, lemon zest, grated ginger, and apple chunks (if using) to the saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the cranberries have burst and the sauce has thickened.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the cranberry sauce cool to room temperature. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. This homemade cranberry sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

When you’re ready to serve your holiday meal, take the make-ahead cranberry sauce out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. You can even serve it alongside leftover turkey sandwiches or use it as a topping for vanilla ice cream.

Ina Garten’s make-ahead cranberry sauce is a beloved holiday dish, and this variation brings together classic cranberry sauce with bright citrus flavors and a hint of ginger for a delicious and refreshing flavor that will complement your holiday table. Enjoy this beautiful cranberry dish with your loved ones this holiday season!

Here is a table with the make-ahead cranberry sauce recipe scaled for 12, 20, 25, and 50 people:

People /ServingsFrozen CranberriesFresh CranberriesWaterOrange JuiceGranulated SugarBrown SugarOrange ZestLemon ZestGrated GingerOptional Apples
1218 oz18 oz1.5 cups1.5 cups1.5 cups1.5 cups1.5 oranges1.5 lemons1.5 tsp1.5 apples
2030 oz30 oz2.5 cups2.5 cups2.5 cups2.5 cups2.5 oranges2.5 lemons2.5 tsp2.5 apples
2537.5 oz37.5 oz3.125 cups3.125 cups3.125 cups3.125 cups3.125 oranges3.125 lemons3.125 tsp3.125 apples
5075 oz75 oz6.25 cups6.25 cups6.25 cups6.25 cups6.25 oranges6.25 lemons6.25 tsp6.25 apples
Make Ahead Scaled Cranberry Sauce Recipe For a Crowd of 12-50 people

Please note that these quantities are approximate and may need to be adjusted depending on the serving size preferred by your guests. Additionally, the amount of orange and lemon zest may be difficult to measure precisely, so it’s best to use your judgment and add zest according to taste.

Tips and FAQs for Making the Perfect Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce
Tips and FAQs for Making the Perfect Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce

Can I use only fresh or only frozen cranberries in the make-ahead cranberry sauce recipe?

Yes, you can use either all fresh or all frozen cranberries in the recipe. Using both provides a balance of texture and flavor, but using one or the other will still result in a delicious cranberry sauce. Keep in mind that if using all frozen cranberries, the cooking time may be slightly longer. Just make sure the cranberries have not gone bad.

Can I substitute another sweetener, like honey or maple syrup, for the sugar in the cranberry sauce?

Yes, you can substitute other sweeteners for the sugar. However, the sweetness level and flavor of the cranberry sauce will be different depending on the sweetener used. Start with a smaller amount of your chosen sweetener and adjust to taste, as some sweeteners may be sweeter than granulated sugar.

How can I make the cranberry sauce more or less sweet?

To adjust the sweetness of the cranberry sauce, simply increase or decrease the amount of sugar added to the recipe. Taste the sauce as it cooks and adjust the sweetness level to your preference.

Can I add other flavors or ingredients to the cranberry sauce?

Yes, you can customize the cranberry sauce by adding other flavors or ingredients. Some popular additions include cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, chopped nuts, or dried fruit. Experiment with different flavor combinations to create your own unique cranberry sauce.

Can I freeze the make-ahead cranberry sauce?

Yes, the cranberry sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container. To serve, thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight and then allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Note that the texture of the cranberry sauce may change slightly after freezing, but the flavor should remain delicious.

What are some optional add-ins for this cranberry sauce recipe?

Chopped walnuts or pecans can be added during the last 5 minutes of cooking for extra crunch and flavor.