How to Cook Fresh Cranberries


Cranberries are a type of small red fruit that grows in North America. They are commonly sold frozen, dried or canned, so you may not be used to the fresh variety. Fresh cranberries are much more tart and flavorful than the processed kinds. Since fresh cranberries have such a strong taste on their own, they don’t require much preparation to enhance their flavor. If you want to cook fresh cranberries, you only have to gently heat them through so they can release their juices.

How to Cook Fresh Cranberries
(Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • 1 lb. fresh cranberries
  • 1 to 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
Step 1

Place 1 lb. of fresh cranberries into a strainer. Position the strainer under your faucet and rinse the cranberries with cold water.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 2

Shake the colander gently to remove any excess water. Pat the berries with a paper towel until they are thoroughly dried.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 3

Transfer the cranberries into a large skillet on your stove top. Add 1 cup of sugar into the skillet if you want the cranberries to remain very tart; if you want a sweeter taste, add an additional 1 cup of sugar.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 4

Pour 1/2 cup of water into the skillet, then stir the ingredients gently so the sugar is evenly distributed among the cranberries. Turn your stove to medium and heat the cranberries until the mixture starts to bubble.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 5

Turn down the heat to low and heat the cranberries for about 5 minutes or until they start to slightly break down and soften. Turn off the heat and let the cranberries cool down. Serve the cranberries alongside turkey or pork for a savory meal or spoon them over desserts.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media

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Tips & Warnings

  • Make the cranberries more flavorful by adding chopped ginger, freshly squeezed citrus juice or a sprinkling of cinnamon.
  • Cook the cranberries even longer if you want them to turn into a thinner sauce.
  • Do not use high heat or the sugar may burn before the cranberries are heated through.


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