Cranberry sauce in a white bowl on top of a black and white plaid dishtowel.

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Homemade cranberry sauce and canned cranberry sauce are as different as night and day. The former is practically a dessert!

Tangy cranberries mulled with apple cider and warm seasonal spices make this a delicious and easy side dish for your holiday table.

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Birds eye view: bag of Ocean Spray Cranberries, glass of white sugar, square white bowl of four spices, and measuring cup with apple cider.

Fresh Cranberries: The Ocean Spray 12-Ounce Bag says “Buy 2. Freeze 1” Not a bad idea, especially if you can get them on sale. This recipe works with fresh or frozen cranberries.

Apple Cider: The recipe card below calls for 100% apple cider. Occasionally, I modify this cranberry sauce with spiced apple cider, which gives a slightly stronger spiced flavor to the finished cranberry sauce.

Sugar: In addition to the apple cider, the recipe gets its sweetness from sugar.

Spices: Warm spices add the wonderful mulled flavor to this delicious cranberry sauce.

For my gluten-free friends, this recipe, like most cranberry sauce recipes, is naturally gluten-free. Cranberries are gluten-free. Vet your spices and apple cider to make sure no gluten ingredients have been added.

Simply Organic Mulling Spice blend is certified gluten-free. 1 ¼ teaspoons of this blend can be used in lieu of the spices in our Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Combine apple cider, sugar, and spices in a medium saucepan or large frying pan. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Bubbling, boiling, brown liquid in a frying pan, being stirred by an aqua spoon.

Add cranberries and return to a boil.

Reduce to medium heat and boil the cranberries gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Right about now, your family should start to comment that your entire house smells like Thanksgiving!

Keep an eye on the cranberry sauce. They are ready when most of the cranberries pop. I like to leave a few unpopped whole cranberries for the visual appeal.

Remove from heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature.

Refrigerate until serving time.

Make Ahead

While cranberry sauce can be made on the day it is served, it is the perfect make-ahead dish. In the busyness of holiday meal prep, cranberry sauce will be one less thing to think about on the big day. It’s a great way to free up time and precious space in your busy kitchen.

Plus, this spiced cranberry sauce only improves when you make it a day before the big feast. It gives time for all of the added spice flavor to meld.

I typically make this dish the day before, but it will last for up to 10 days in the fridge. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge once cooled, and simply take it straight from the fridge to your Thanksgiving table.

Spoon scooping cranberry sauce out of a white bowl on top of a black and white plaid dishtowel.


Don’t have an ingredient or want to mix it up? Try these other flavorful variations of this fresh cranberry sauce to dress up your holiday dinner!

  • Apple Cider → Wine or Red Grape Juice (for a mulled wine or nonalcoholic mulled wine cranberry sauce) or Apple Juice
  • White Sugar → Maple Syrup or Brown Sugar
  • Single Spices → 1 1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Related Easy Recipes

For gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner tips and recipes, read How to Simplify Your Gluten-Free Thanksgiving and download the free Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Planner.

Text: gluten-free Thanksgiving planner, logo with blue-green cloud and text: Go Gluten Freely, four orange pumpkins along the bottom of the page

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry sauce in a white bowl on top of a black and white plaid dishtowel.

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce is full of seasonal flavors and warm spices. The perfect addition to your holiday table!
5 from 7 votes
Rate this Recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Holiday Side Dish, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 300 kcal


  • 1 cup apple cider (100% juice)
  • ¾ cup 3/4 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • tsp 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • tsp 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 12 oz package of fresh (or frozen) cranberries


  • Combine cider, sugar, and spices in a medium saucepan.
  • Bring to boil.
  • Add cranberries and return mixture to boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium and boil gently for 10 minutes until most of the berries begin to pop and the sauce begins to thicken. Stir occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and cool completely.
  • Refrigerate until serving time.


Calories: 300kcal
Keyword christmas, gluten-free, Thanksgiving
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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