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Slow Cooker Spiced Cranberry Sauce

​​This Slow Cooker Spiced Cranberry Sauce is deliciously sweet and tangy and so easy to prepare! A simple, slightly chunky homemade cranberry sauce recipe with tart fresh cranberries, bright citrus flavors and warm fall spices. This is the perfect dressing to serve next to this year’s Thanksgiving turkey and anything else on the menu!

The Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Can you believe it’s that time of year again? It feels like we JUST bid summer goodbye, and these days I can pretty much taste the Thanksgiving turkey and all the fixings already. Bring on the festive season!

This spiced cranberry sauce recipe in particular sticks in my memory as one of my forever favorites. This is the best homemade cranberry sauce, prepared in a slow cooker with hints of orange and spice. Your house will smell incredible and using a slow cooker means your stovetop is free for any and all other dishes on your list.

On top of it all, this is perhaps one of the easiest cranberry sauce recipes you’ll ever lay your oven mitts on. Just 7 ingredients, zero prep work, and a few hours in a crock pot will deliver a flavorful and tangy cranberry sauce that can be spooned over just about everything at your Thanksgiving table.

Ingredients for slow cooker cranberry sauce: fresh cranberries, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and orange juice.

What You’ll Need

This is very much a classic cranberry sauce recipe with a few special add-ins. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fresh Cranberries: A whole bag of fresh cranberries. Most grocery stores will stock the fresh kind around Thanksgiving, otherwise frozen is the next best option.
  • Brown Sugar: Light brown sugar will cook into the sauce and cut the bitterness of the cranberries. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: I’ve always used STAR Unfiltered Organic Apple Cider Vinegar for this recipe, but any brand should do the trick!
  • Orange Juice: With or without pulp, since the sauce comes out a little on the chunky side anyway.
  • Ground Spices: I love the combination of flavors that ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves bring to this cranberry sauce. You can use fresh ground or pre-ground, or Pumpkin Pie Spice instead!
Apple cider vinegar is added into a slow cooker filled with cranberry sauce ingredients.

How to Make Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce

Prepare to be amazed at how utterly simple this spiced cranberry sauce is to make! 

Combine the Ingredients: Place all ingredients in the bowl of your slow cooker and give them a stir.

Cook: Close the lid and cook the cranberry sauce for a few hours depending on the setting you choose (longer on low and shorter on high). Keep an eye on the cooking time and you’ll know it’s ready when the cranberries have popped and the sauce is thickened and bubbling. Give it a taste and add in some extra sweetness as needed.

Serve: Transfer the sauce to a serving dish or gravy boat next to the other sides!

Can I Make This in Advance?

The joys of slow cooker cranberry sauce never cease – you can easily make this recipe a day or two in advance. If anything, the extra sitting time in the fridge helps the flavors to combine and develop even more!

Cooked cranberries being stirred with a whisk.

Tips for Success

  • Make Cranberry Sauce Less Bitter: If you find that your sauce is still a bit bitter after cooking, avoid adding raw sugar to sweeten it (unless you plan to reheat it enough that the sugar will dissolve). Instead, add a spoonful of maple syrup and another of the orange juice as needed to counteract the bitterness of the cranberries.
  • Avoid Overcooking Cranberry Sauce: Overcooking the sauce will make the sugars caramelize and burn, so it’s a good idea to check in on the pot once it’s closer to the end of the cooking time. The cranberries should be almost all popped, and the rest should burst once you give it a stir before serving.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce in a serving dish with a spoon, next to a bottle of apple cider vinegar.

Variation Ideas

Try mixing it up with other ingredients that compliment the flavors in this zesty spiced cranberry sauce:

  • Add in a dash of vanilla extract or a single split vanilla bean
  • Cook in a cup of dark cherries or cherry preserves
  • Mix in a half cup of port or sherry
  • Substitute the brown sugar with honey or maple syrup
Slow Cooker Cranberry sauce in a serving dish with a spoon.

Serving Suggestions

This glorious Spiced Cranberry Sauce can be spooned over just about anything at your Thanksgiving or Christmas feast! Eat it with everything from turkey, to savory stuffing, to mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables

There are also so many ways to use up leftover cranberry sauce. One of my very best ideas (maybe ever) was using this Spiced Cranberry Sauce as a topping for a warm and gooey Baked Brie.

Here are some other suggestions of how to serve leftovers: 

How to Store Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Leftover cranberry sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

Can I Freeze This?

To freeze this spiced cranberry sauce, wait until it’s cooled completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container. Cranberry sauce can be kept frozen for up to 2-3 months. To thaw, allow the sauce to defrost in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

More Thanksgiving Sides to Try

Complete your holiday spread this year with these other easy sides:


Spiced Cranberry Sauce is ladled from a crock pot bowl.

Slow Cooker Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Katerina | Diethood
A homemade cranberry sauce recipe made with tart fresh cranberries, bright citrus flavors and warm fall spices! This easy Spiced Cranberry Sauce is the perfect Thanksgiving side prepared in a slow cooker.
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 2 mins


  • 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
  • 1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup STAR Unfiltered Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup light orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  • Combine all ingredients in the bowl of your slow cooker and stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or on LOW for 6 to 7 hours, or until the cranberries have popped and the sauce is thickened and bubbly.
  • Taste and adjust accordingly. If needed, stir in more sugar.
  • Serve.


Calories: 336 kcal | Carbohydrates: 77 g | Protein: 3 g | Fat: 1 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 15 mg | Sodium: 72 mg | Potassium: 532 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 70 g | Vitamin A: 372 IU | Vitamin C: 93 mg | Calcium: 81 mg | Iron: 1 mg | Net Carbs: 76 g

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: crock pot recipes, homemade cranberry sauce, thanksgiving side dish
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