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Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce - Dinner at the Zoo

This slow cooker cranberry sauce is fresh cranberries, orange, cinnamon and vanilla cooked together in a crock pot to make a bright and flavorful condiment. A quick and easy recipe that is perfect for your holiday meal!

When the holidays roll around every year, my family always requests their favorite dishes including roasted turkey breast, golden brown Thanksgiving stuffing, and this sweet and tart slow cooker cranberry sauce.

A bowl of slow cooker cranberry sauce garnished with mint.

I love to host a big meal for my family and friends, but I always run into the issue of not having enough capacity on my stove top and in my oven for a big turkey with all the side dishes and desserts. I’ve solved this problem by using my crock pot to remove some of the burden! This slow cooker cranberry sauce literally takes minutes to put together, and has the perfect blend of flavors.

Slow cooker cranberry sauce ingredients

Bowls and jars of ingredients including cranberries, orange juice and sugar.

This is a very simple recipe with only a few ingredients required.

  • Cranberries: I prefer to use fresh cranberries, but frozen cranberries will also work just fine!
  • Orange: Cranberries and orange are the ultimate flavor combination. This recipe calls for both orange juice and a strip of orange peel. Use freshly squeezed juice if possible!
  • Sugar: I use 1 cup of sugar per bag of cranberries, which is I think is a great ratio between sweet or tart. You can also adjust this amount up or down depending on your personal tastes.
  • Water: The water in this recipe makes sure that the cranberries have enough liquid to cook in so that the sauce isn’t overly thick.
  • Vanilla: Add a little vanilla extract at the very end of the cooking time for a unique and unexpected flavor complexity.

How do you make slow cooker cranberry sauce?

Place all of your ingredients in the slow cooker, then stir to combine. Cover the crock pot, and cook for 3 hours on high, or 6 hours on low. During the last 5 minutes of the cooking time, stir in vanilla extract. Let the sauce sit uncovered for at least 15 minutes to thicken up, then serve and enjoy.

Process shots showing how to make slow cooker cranberry sauce.

Recipe FAQs

Can you overcook cranberry sauce?

It is possible to overcook cranberry sauce. If it cooks for too long, it can burn because of the sugar content. By stirring the sauce once per hour as the recipe calls for, you will prevent the possibility of it burning.

Is cranberry sauce healthy?

Cranberries are nutritional powerhouses and are loaded with vitamins and minerals, which makes them a good choice for any diet. This recipe does contain sugar which is typically not a staple of a healthy eating plan. That being said, most people eat small amounts of cranberry sauce as a condiment which balances out the effect of the sugar.

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

This sauce can be stored in the freezer in a resealable bag or airtight container for up to 2 months. Thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat it on the stove.

How long can you keep cranberry sauce in the refrigerator?

You can store your sauce in a covered container in the fridge for up to one week.

Cranberry sauce inside a crock pot.

Tips for the perfect dish

  • This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a large crowd.
  • I typically use a 4 quart slow cooker for this recipe, but if you decide to double or triple the recipe you may want to use a 6 quart crock pot instead.
  • Slow cooker cranberry sauce can be made up to 3 days before you’re ready to serve it. Simply store it in a covered container in the refrigerator.
  • The cranberry sauce may look a little thin when it comes out of the slow cooker, but will thicken considerably as it cools. If you prefer a very thick sauce, you can uncover the pot during the last 30-45 minutes of the cook time so that some of the water can evaporate.
Slow cooker cranberry sauce on a plate with ham and mashed potatoes.

Flavor Variations

While this sauce is great as-is, you can add other ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.

  • Brown Sugar Crock Pot Cranberry Sauce: Use brown sugar instead of the granulated sugar.
  • Cherry Cranberry Sauce: Add 1 cup of coarsely chopped frozen dark cherries to the slow cooker.
  • Cranberry Apple Sauce: Use apple cider instead of orange juice and water, and add 1 diced peeled apple to the pot.

Once you see how easy it is to make this cranberry sauce, you’ll find yourself adding it to every holiday meal from now on!

More great Thanksgiving recipes to try

A bowl of slow cooker cranberry sauce garnished with mint.


Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce

This slow cooker cranberry sauce is fresh cranberries, orange, cinnamon and vanilla cooked together in a crock pot to make a bright and flavorful condiment. A quick and easy recipe that is perfect for your holiday meal!

Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes


  • Place the cranberries, water, orange juice, sugar, orange peel and cinnamon in a 4 quart slow cooker. Stir to combine.

  • Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours. Stir the sauce once every hour.

  • Uncover the slow cooker and stir in the vanilla extract. Cook, uncovered for 5 more minutes.

  • Remove the orange peel and discard. Let the sauce sit for at least 15 minutes to thicken. The sauce will continue to get thicker as it cools down. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.


  1. Frozen cranberries will work fine, and they do not need to be thawed first.
  2. If you like your sauce extra thick, you can cook the sauce for the last 30-45 minutes with the top uncovered.


Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 68mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 57IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg

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