Making a Cranberry Sauce from Dried Cranberries is an easy way to enjoy this classic holiday dish if you don't have access to fresh cranberries. This recipe has the perfect balance of sweet and tangy and comes together with 5 basic ingredients. Naturally vegan and gluten-free!
Cranberry sauce is a holiday staple, and if you live outside the US, you know that fresh cranberries can be hard to find.
That's why I created this recipe for cranberry sauce with dried cranberries, so you can enjoy this festive condiment using pantry-friendly ingredients.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Easy recipe. It comes together in less than 30 minutes and requires minimal effort.
- Customizable. You get full control over the texture, sweetness, and tanginess of the sauce so you can make it your own.
- No need for fresh cranberries! The cranberry season is short, but with this recipe, you can make your favorite sauce any time of the year.
- Even better than the canned stuff. This recipe is so good you'll never go back to eating canned cranberry sauce.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Dried sweetened cranberries: I prefer to use sweetened cranberries because If I have leftovers I can snack on them or add them to baked goods. You can use Craisins or any other brand you like.
- Oranges: You'll need both the juice and zest to make cranberry sauce from dried cranberries. You can substitute the orange juice for another fruit juice like pineapple juice.
- Brown sugar: Feel free to use any sweetener you like such as white sugar, maple syrup, agave syrup, etc.
- Cinnamon stick: I LOVE adding a cinnamon stick to my cranberry sauce for that extra flavor and aroma. Since we're removing the stick before serving, it doesn't overpower the sauce as if you'd use ground cinnamon. However, if that's all you have, you can substitute the stick with a dash of ground cinnamon.
- Water OR unsweetened cranberry juice: Cranberry juice will add more flavor, but water can work in a pinch. Another fruit juice can be used as a substitute such as apple juice, cherry juice, or pineapple juice.
See the recipe card below for exact measurements.
How to Make Cranberry Sauce from Dried Cranberries
Add all of the ingredients to a medium saucepan - dried cranberries, orange juice and orange zest, cinnamon stick, and brown sugar.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let it cook for 20 minutes, or until the cranberries are plump and soft.
When ready, remove the cinnamon stick.
If you have an immersion blender, blend half or ¾ cups of the dried cranberries (blend more for a smooth sauce, less for a chunkier one).
If you don't have an immersion blender, transfer the desired amount to a high-speed blender alongside the remaining liquid in the saucepan. Blend on high for 1 minute, or until completely smooth.
Transfer the blended cranberry sauce back to the saucepan and stir. If the sauce is too thin for your taste, cook it for 5 more minutes, or until thickened.
However, I find it to be the perfect consistency for me.
Taste and adjust the flavor before serving, adding more orange juice for tanginess or sugar for sweetness. Serve right away!
- Use high-quality dried cranberries. On the ingredient list, look for dried cranberries and sugar only. You don't want any additives, since they can impact the taste and texture of the sauce.
- Cook the dried cranberries until they're plump. This is a really important step. If your cranberries are not soft enough, the sauce will end up being grainy. Make sure to give them a taste test before blending.
- Adjust the sweetness to taste. Since we're using sweetened cranberries to begin with, the sauce doesn't need much added sugar. I find ¼ cup to be enough, however, it's better to start with 2 tablespoon and work your way up from there. If you don't want your sauce to be as sweet, consider stopping at 2 tbsp.
- Customize the consistency. You can make it more or less chunky, depending on your taste. You can also make it thicker by cooking it for longer after blending, or more pourable by adding more cranberry juice.
Yes, dried cranberries make a delicious cranberry sauce. The secret is to boil them in cranberry juice or water until they're plum, juicy, and soft. Then, blend half of them, so you have the perfect mixture between chunky and smooth.
No, you don't need to soak dried cranberries to make cranberry sauce. Instead, boil them for 20 minutes until they're soft and tender.
Yes, but you'll need to add more brown sugar to make up for the loss of sweetness (unless you like your cranberry sauce on the tart side).
Yes, it can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating and serving. When reheating, you may need to add some liquid if the sauce has dried out.
Yes, they're the same thing. The word craisin comes from mixing the words "cranberries" and "raisin", since the process of drying cranberries is the same as drying raisins.
Here are some ways you can switch things up when making this cranberry sauce from dried cranberries.
- Ginger: You can add a teaspoon of fresh minced ginger or a dash of ground ginger for a spicy and festive kick.
- Make it crunchy: Stir ⅓ cup of chopped roasted pecans, walnuts, or your favorite nut of choice.
- Apple cider: Swap half of the liquid for apple cider to add more flavor and tanginess.
- Balsamic reduction: Add a teaspoon of balsamic reduction (aka balsamic glaze) before serving to add depth of flavor.
- Fresh herbs: Add a branch of fresh rosemary or a few mint leaves before cooking to infuse the sauce with fresh, herby flavors. Remove them before serving and enjoy!
It's also delicious in salad dressings or marinates for meat, fish, and vegetables.
Storage and Reheating
Let leftover cranberry sauce to room temperature, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It tastes best in the first 7-10 days.
To reheat, add to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring often. If it's too thick, add a splash of water or cranberry juice to loosen it up.
To reheat in a microwave, add the sauce to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring halfway through, until it has warmed through.
More Recipes For Your Holiday Table
Simple Cranberry Sauce from Dried Cranberries (Craisins)
- High-speed blender OR Immersion blender
- 1 ½ cups dried cranberries sweetened, like Craisins
- 2 cups water or substitute with cranberry juice for more flavor
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice ~½ of a large orange
- Zest from 1 orange
- ¼ cup brown sugar not packed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch optional, for chunky sauce
- ¼ tablespoon cold water optional
- Add all of the ingredients except the cornstarch to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let it cook for 20 minutes, or until the cranberries are plump and soft. When ready, take off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick.1 ½ cups dried cranberries, 2 cups water, ¼ cup fresh orange juice, Zest from 1 orange, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 cinnamon stick
Smoother sauce (preferred method)
- If you have an immersion blender, blend half or ¾ of the dried cranberries (depending on how many chunky pieces you want, I usually blend ¾.)
- If you don't have an immersion blender, transfer the desired amount to a high-speed blender alongside the remaining liquid in the saucepan. Blend on high for 1 minute, or until completely smooth.
- Transfer the blended cranberry sauce back to the saucepan and stir. If the sauce is too thin for your taste, cook it for 5 more minutes, or until thickened. However, I find it to be the perfect consistency for me at this point.
- Taste and adjust the flavor before serving, adding more orange juice for tanginess or sugar for sweetness. Serve right away!
- After removing the cinnamon stick, put it back on the stove on low heat. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with the cold water. Pour the mixture into the cranberries and mix. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.2 tablespoon cornstarch, ¼ tablespoon cold water
- Take off the heat. Taste and adjust the flavor before serving, adding more orange juice for tanginess or sugar for sweetness. Serve right away!
- Fridge: Left leftovers cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It tastes best in the first 7-10 days.
- Freezer: Transfer leftover cranberry sauce to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating and serving. When reheating, you may need to add some liquid if the sauce looks dried out.
Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with third-party calculations without including the optional ingredients.