Cranberry Pear Sauce

This gorgeous, ruby red Cranberry Pear Sauce is a welcome twist on a classic cranberry sauce recipe. A little sweet and a little tart, it’s the perfect compliment to Herby Oven Roasted Turkey or Orange Glazed Ham.

Make this festive cranberry pear sauce recipe ahead of time and store it in the fridge for an easy, gluten free and vegan Thanksgiving side dish.

Make Ahead Cranberry Pear Sauce

Pear and cranberry sauce in a pottery bowl.

Tell me, when the holiday season inevitably rolls around, are you a plan ahead kind of person or a last minute kind of person?

If you’ve already finished your Christmas shopping, strung the lights around the front windows, and planned out your Thanksgiving menu, including what wine you’ll pair with your Prime Rib Roast, I’m going to go ahead and answer this one for you. You’re a planner.

Could I maybe just sleep on your pillow for a couple nights? Because I need all that proactive energy to osmosize itself right into my brain.

I happen to be of the last minute variety. Sure, I’m a great planner in my head. There, I create festive tablescapes that rival the cover of Real Simple magazine, fill my freezer with ready-to-thaw-and-serve Cream Cheese Pumpkin Rolls, and light cinnamon candles, all while soft, peaceful Christmas music floats through the house.

But real life looks more like this:

1) A last minute trip to Kroger to pick up the cornmeal I forgot for the Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing.

2) Throwing a couple branches I found in the front yard on the table and calling it “rustic,” and…

3) Greeting guests in my holiday best–sweat pants, an apron, and a hot pad on each hand.

Over the years, I’ve learned to work with my last-minute tendencies rather than against them. Along with giving myself a bit more grace and managing my expectations, I lean hard into simple, make ahead recipes like this Cranberry Pear Sauce.

This is one of our favorite Thanksgiving sides, but it has also found it’s way onto our Christmas table over the years. It’s bright color and tangy sweet flavor offer a welcome contrast to rich, carb-heavy holiday sides like cheesy potatoes, corn souffle, and butterhorn rolls.

We think you’ll find it a delightful addition to your holiday feasts as well!

Wooden spoon scooping up homemade cranberry pear sauce from a saucepan.

Why You’ll Love Cranberry Pear Sauce

  • It’s sweet AND tart. Too often, cranberry sauce skews either way too sweet or way too tart. In this recipe, we use just enough sugar to temper cranberries’ natural bitterness while still letting its bright, tart flavor shine.
  • It is darn simple to make. This cranberry pear sauce will take you about 15 minutes to make, start to finish. You can’t run to the store and pick up canned cranberry sauce that quickly!
  • It can (and should be) made in advance. This sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to FIVE days before you serve it. You can even freeze it! Planners, rejoice!
  • It’s beautiful. Unlike the gloppy canned stuff, this homemade cranberry sauce makes a beautiful jewel toned centerpiece for your holiday table.

Key Ingredients

Bowl of cranberries, sliced orange, cup of sugar, water, vanilla, and pears on a blush pink background.
  • Fresh cranberries- This recipe uses a standard 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries. No measuring needed! You can find fresh cranberries in the produce section of your local grocery store. Here in the Midwest, I usually spot them in stores in October.
  • Ripe pears- We prefer to use D’anjou or Bartlett pears for this recipe. The pears should be ripe but still quite firm. If the pears are over-ripe, they’ll get mushy in the sauce.
  • Orange juice and zest- Fresh orange juice and orange zest provide a welcome hint of citrus. We love the Microplane grater/zester.
  • Granulated sugar– As mentioned earlier, this recipe has just enough sugar to give us a sweet tangy cranberry sauce.
  • Vanilla extract- The subtle warmth of vanilla provides the finishing touch.

How to Make Cranberry Pear Sauce

  1. Boil liquids. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, orange zest, and orange juice. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add fruit and cook. Add cranberries and pears, return to a boil, then lower heat so it maintains a gentle boil. Continue to cook until cranberries pop and pears are softened, stirring occasionally, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. Chill. Allow to cool then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Make Ahead, Storage, and Leftover Instructions

  • This cranberry sauce should be made at least 4 hours in advance.
  • Store the cooked cranberry sauce in an airtight container in the fridge. For peak freshness, I recommend serving the cranberry sauce within five days, but leftover cranberry sauce should last in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.


Can you freeze homemade cranberry pear sauce?

Yes, this cranberry pear sauce can be frozen. Allow the mixture to chill completely before freezing, then place in an airtight freezer bag, squeezing around it to remove excess air.

Label the bag with the date and freeze flat for easy storage. Thaw overnight in the fridge and stir well to reincorporate. Frozen cranberry sauce should be used within 3 months for the best quality.

Can I make a double batch of this sauce?

Yes, this recipe can absolutely be doubled to feed a bigger crowd! Just be sure to use a larger saucepan so it all fits!

Can I use frozen cranberries to make cranberry sauce?

Yes, frozen cranberries work just fine, but you might need a little more time for them to cook down and burst.

How can I jazz up cranberry sauce?

Things like vanilla, citrus, and cinnamon can all be used to make different flavor variations of cranberry pear sauce. Try adding a little lime juice, a sprig of rosemary, or a cinnamon stick in with the cranberries and pears.  You can also lower the sugar and add some maple syrup for a different flavor.

Pottery bowl filled with homemade cranberry sauce and an antique spoon.

What To Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Got extras? Lucky you! This cranberry pear sauce makes an excellent sandwich spread, particularly paired with soft cheeses like cream cheese and brie. Try it on these Waffled Cranberry Cream Cheese Sandwiches.

You can also stir extra cranberry sauce into yogurt (try making a holiday-themed Breakfast Banana Split!), serve it over ricotta pancakes, or spoon it over vanilla ice cream.

Wooden spoon scooping up ruby red cranberry pear sauce from a bowl.

More Cranberry Recipes for the Holiday Season

Looking to add more festive cranberry dishes to your holiday feasts?

Serve these Bubbly Cranberry Mimosas on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning to kick off the celebration!

This Cranberry Brie Crostini is a beautiful and scrumptious holiday appetizer.

Try our Cranberry Jello Salad, a deliciously tangy sweet jello made with cranberry orange relish.

And finish the night with Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread.

Spoon scooping up homemade cranberry pear sauce out of a glazed bowl.

Cranberry Pear Sauce

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes

Sweet tart Cranberry Pear Sauce is the absolute BEST homemade cranberry sauce. This gorgeous and simple side dish is a must have for the holiday season.


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 12 oz. bag (3 cups) fresh cranberries
  • 2 ripe barlett or d'anjou pears, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Boil liquids. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, orange zest, and orange juice. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add fruit and cook. Add cranberries and pears, return to a boil, then lower heat so it maintains a gentle boil. Continue to cook until cranberries pop and pears are softened, stirring occasionally, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. Chill. Allow to cool then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, at least four hours or up to five days. Sauce will thicken as it cools.


  • Leftover cranberry sauce should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container. It will last 1-2 weeks.
  • To freeze cranberry sauce, allow it to cool, then place in a freezer safe zip lock bag, squeeze out excess air, and seal. Freeze flat. Thaw overnight in the fridge then stir well before serving.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 155Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 21mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 3gSugar: 34gProtein: 0g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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  1. I am a planner, but am a fan of those who manage to get things done without spending weeks planning. I don’t know how you do it, but kudos for this as well as a delicious recipe!

  2. Omg it’s like you described me in this post, Courtney. I’m the same way. I’m always in awe of all my friends and sister-in-law who spend months planning these fancy, swanky, elaborate parties but there’s no way in hell I’m ever that organized. I can’t wait to meet you someday. We can both wear our “holiday best sweat pants”, drink booze and feel the self-satisfaction of NOT having spent countless hours driving ourselves crazy planning a party.

      1. I saw some photos of you at the conference floating around in people’s Instagram and Facebook feeds. It looked like so much fun! I hope you had a blast. Isn’t it awesome meeting other bloggers in real life?

  3. “holiday-best sweatpants” made me laugh out loud! Because I’m totally wearing my favorite pair on Thanksgiving Day, and too bad for everyone if I look like a hot mess.
    The color on this sauce is gorgeous!

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