Homemade Cranberry Sauce in the Instant Pot

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Cranberry sauce is one of those foods that I didn’t know I liked until much later in life and I seriously regret not making an effort with sooner. It add a delicious sweetness (and extra flavor) to almost any white meat, but is especially delightful on Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner turkey. This year I decided to make my own homemade cranberry sauce in the Instant Pot – and let me tell you, it turned out great.

Now I’m going to be real with you: this cranberry sauce (or cranberry relish, depending on what you prefer to call it) is no substitute for the pureed stuff that comes out of the can in Jell-o form. That’s its own thing… I don’t even know if I’d consider the two the same food.

So, if you’re looking for a copycat gelatin recipe this aint it. Go buy a can of the good stuff. BUT if you want a delicious, chunky, savory cranberry sauce to serve on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Sunday dinner you’ve come to the right place.

Give it a try, expand your horizons… Who knows, it might just be your next favourite recipe!

Instant pot cranberry sauce being served in a silver dish

What You’ll Need to Make Cranberry Sauce in the Instant Pot:

It’s surprisingly actually how few ingredients you need to make homemade cranberry sauce. Here I thought it would be all fancy and full of additives; not the case at all. You can easily substitute some of the ingredients to make this recipe entirely without refined ingredients too.

Since you control exactly what goes in, homemade cranberry sauce is a delicious healthy topping that you won’t feel bad serving to your family. Especially if you cut back on the sugar!

Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker

I mean, this is a given here since it’s an Instant Pot recipe. I have the Instant Pot Duo, but you can make it in any Instant Pot model. Actually, you can make this cranberry sauce recipe in any pressure cooker and it will come out the same.

You’ll be using both the pressure cook function and sautée for this recipe.

Fresh or Frozen Cranberries

The star of the show! Make sure your cranberries are high quality. If using fresh, remove any that have gone bad before you start. Personally, I opted for frozen; they’re not only more convenient than fresh, but have been frozen at optimal flavour so they taste better too.

You’ll need 1 1/2 cups for of cranberries for this recipe.

Fresh Orange (Including a Zester and Juicer)

I used one medium fresh orange in my recipe for both the zest and the juice.

If you don’t have a zester (I didn’t), a fine grater also works. You’ll be cooking the zest in the instant pot so you don’t need it as fine as other recipes.

For the orange juice, I simply juiced my orange after zesting it. If you don’t have a juicer you can also use store bought 100% orange juice.

Sugar

You can use anywhere between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of white or brown sugar to sweeten your sauce. If you prefer natural or low carb friendly alternatives, any type of sweetner that gets cooked down can be used. Just keep in mind that sugar substitutes will alter the taste slightly.

Spices (Optional)

You can include any spices you want in this recipe, or none at all. I personally like 1/2 teaspoon of each cinnamon, ginger, and allspice in mine, which is what I included in this recipe. A pinch of salt also adds flavour!

Alcohol (Optional)

For a rich and unique flavor up to 1/4 cup of alcohol like bourbon, amaretto, brandy, Brennivín, Jagermeister, etc can be added to this recipe. Just make sure you adjust the cooking time accordingly if you find it becomes too runny with the extra liquid.

How to Make Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce Step by Step

Homemade cranberry sauce in the ins...
Homemade cranberry sauce in the instant pot - perfect for thanksgiving!

Time needed: 20 minutes.

  1. Add orange juice, zest, and cranberries to Instant Pot.

    Reserve up to 1/4 cup of cranberries if you like sauce with large cranberry pieces. Mix lightly.

    The orange zest, orange juice, and cranberries have been added to the Instant Pot

  2. Pressure cook for 1 minute, then let sit for a natural release for an additional 7 minutes.

    It will continue to cook a bit during the natural release so it’s important not to skip this step.

  3. Release the remaining pressure, then set the Instant Pot to sauté.

    You’ll have to press cancel first before changing the setting.

  4. While the pressure cooker heats up, press on the cranberries with a soft spatula to break them up.

    Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn too.

  5. Add remaining ingredients.

    This is where you add the sugar, remaining cranberries, salt, and any spices you want to use. Keep the sauce moving so it doesn’t burn!

  6. Cook until the sugar breaks down.

    You may need to add more sugar or liquid at this stage. This is also where you can add any alcohol.

    What the cranberry sauce will look like when it's almost done cooking

  7. Cook until it reaches your desired consistency, then cool.

    Remember, the sauce will thicken a bit when it chills. Don’t let it burn to the bottom during the cool process, keep it moving or transfer ASAP to another container. Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for later.

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce made in the Instant Pot

Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a Sunday dinner this homemade cranberry sauce recipe is easy to whip up in less than 20 minutes thanks to the Instant Pot.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries (12 oz)
  • zest of one medium orange
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp of each cinnamon, allspice, ginger
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 - 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Add orange juice and zest to Instant Pot with cranberries. Reserve up to 1/4 cup of cranberries if you like sauce with large cranberry pieces. Mix lightly.
  2. Pressure cook for 1 minute then allow to natural release for 7 minutes.
  3. Release remaining pressure, then press cancel followed by the sauté button.
  4. Sauté briefly while breaking up the cranberries with a soft spatula.
  5. Add the remaining cranberries, sugar, and spices, mixing well.
  6. Cook until sugar melts and sauce thickens.
  7. Add a pinch of salt.
  8. Add more sugar or orange juice as needed.
  9. Optional: include up to 1/4 cup of alcohol; adjust cooking time to thicken sauce to desired consistency.
  10. Cool and serve, or make ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container for later.

Notes

  • Fresh or frozen cranberries can be used in this recipe
  • If you find your sauce is too thick, add more orange juice or some water. If it's too thick, allow to cook down longer. Sauce will thicken a bit when it cools.
  • Sauce will keep in the fridge for up to a week and can be frozen.

FAQs

I don’t have an Instant Pot – how can I make this recipe?

If you don’t have an instant pot you can make the same recipe by cooking it on the stove, it will just take longer.

How much does this recipe yield?

I didn’t measure it, but it’s about 1 cup – a similar amount that you’d get from a can.

Can the recipe be doubled?

Yep, you can definitely double it.

What’s the best way to store homemade cranberry sauce?

This is a great make-ahead recipe option! You can comfortably store this in the fridge for up to a week in a airtight container. It also freezes fine for up to 3 months. Make sure you thaw it in the fridge at least 24 hours before you want to serve, though.

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