Easy Apple Cranberry Sauce

This apple cranberry sauce calls for apples, fresh cranberries, sugar, and lemon and results in a zingy, chunky side dish that will take you all the way through the holiday season.

A pewter platter with chunky red apple cranberry sauce with a serving spoon

A bit more rustic than the traditional cranberry sauce, this quick apple cranberry sauce is sweet but retains a nice tartness. It’s also quite lovely on buttered toast the following morning.–Karen Mordechai

Easy Apple Cranberry Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 15 M
  • 30 M
  • 10 servings
4/5 - 3 reviews
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Combine the diced lemon, water, apple, cranberries, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pan. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have burst and the sauce is thickened to your desired consistency, 10 to 20 minutes. 

Let cool to room temperature before serving or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I have to admit that cranberry sauce—homemade cranberry sauce—is one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal. This apple cranberry sauce is quick to put together and results in a delightfully tangy and sweet relish or sauce.

I used an Empire apple, which is crisp and tart, in the relish. Next time I make this, I will cut the lemon even smaller. A few bites were bitter due to the peel. This recipe will probably serve 10 people if it’s used as a condiment, fewer if it’s eaten with a spoon. I chilled it overnight and found the flavor improved. A few pieces of crystallized ginger might be a nice addition to the recipe, although it’s lovely as-is.

As I’d purchased a Costco bag of cranberries and had plenty berries still left, I made the relish a second time. This time I cut the sugar in half and added 1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger. I actually liked the recipe with less sugar better. The cranberry flavor was more pronounced, and it wasn't too tart. I’ve been eating it out of the jar.

This apple cranberry sauce came together quickly with ingredients found in the pantry. The taste is lovely—a tart sweetness. A great addition to my repertoire of side dishes for pork roast!

I used a Honeycrisp apple and simmered the ingredients for 20 minutes.


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  1. 2 stars
    This recipe tasted very good, but the consistency was way off. It was a cranberry soup. I only used 1/2 cup of sugar which made it more than enough sweet, so I also think the amount of sugar specified is also overkill. I would suggest using one cup of water, and 1/2 cup sugar and leaving the rest as is. Very disappointed in this recipe.

    1. Molly, we’re sorry to hear that you were disappointed in this recipe. Reducing the amount of sugar will impact the consistency of the sauce, so yes, if you were to reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup then it would be better to use less water.

  2. I don’t know if you all have experienced this, but at our Thanksgiving dinners, cranberry sauce is always the one dish that never gets eaten. People just never seem to like it. So this year, my dear misguided partner decided to make this recipe.

    Why?” I asked. “We’ll just end up throwing it out.”

    “Maybe this recipe will be different,” he replied.

    And it was. This recipe is well balanced, the apples adding just the right sweetness and texture. If truth be told, I was the one who ate the most. We had none leftover.

    What’s that saying about old dogs and new tricks?

    1. Well, this old dog hears you, Tuck. I think this sauce is killer. We might even use it during Christmas. No one ever thinks of making cranberry sauce for Christmas.

  3. This is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made.

    I have distinct memories from my childhood summer visits to see family in New England. While taking long drives through parts of Massachusetts, the summer heat and humidity in the air was intense and miserable and unlike anything I’d ever felt in California. I’d fan myself with whatever I could find in the car in a vain attempt to cool down but would inevitably stick to the upholstery anyway. While hanging my head out the window, I’d watch the seemingly endless and beautiful sea of bright red cranberry fields. My dad would let us stop and take a break at a roadside stand, and we’d get cranberry popsicles.

    Although I’ve been around fresh cranberries all my life, I’ve never made fresh cranberry relish. It’s a shame, really, because after making this absolutely delicious and ridiculously easy apple cranberry sauce, I realize I’ve definitely missed out on a good thing. The first thing that comes to mind with this recipe is fresh. The fresh, tart taste of the whole cranberries and lemon along with the sweet of the sugar and Honeycrisp apple is unlike anything you’ll get from a can. This would also be a fun recipe to make with kids. When the cranberries burst open, they sound like popping popped corn. I wasn’t sure how to dice both the rind and flesh of the lemon without also including the bitter pith, so I grated the zest from the whole lemon, then I diced up the flesh from 1/2 the lemon.

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