Homemade Cranberry BBQ Sauce (Using Fresh Cranberries)

Better than a canned version. This fresh Cranberry BBQ Sauce is sweet and tart with a hot edge, and is ready in just 25 minutes.
sliced turkey on a plate with cranberry sauce

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This Cranberry BBQ Sauce isn’t made with the stuff your grandma used out of a can. It’s made with fresh cranberries in a cast-iron skillet on your grill or smoker.

It’s super easy to throw together. You can up the hot sauce or reduce the sugar, customize to make it just the way you like it.

Whilst most BBQ sauces are on the smooth side, my preference is to keep this one chunky, as it reminds me of a traditional cranberry sauce.

Go with the usual serving suggestions of turkey, chicken, and ham, but don’t limit yourself, try it with pork, on a sandwich that contains cheese, or smoke a wheel of brie and have it with some crusty bread.

What you need to make Cranberry BBQ Sauce

How to make Cranberry BBQ Sauce

Like I mentioned before, this sauce is very easy to make. You can make this on your stove if that’s easier, but I like to do it on the smoker while I’m smoking a turkey.

Heat your smoker or grill to 350°F and place your cast iron skillet on it.

Although the sauce only takes about 20 minutes to cook, you can get a little bit of smoke flavor on it during the process. I like to use cherry wood. It works perfectly with the flavor of the cranberries. 

Any smoke wood will do though.

Next, put all the wet ingredients into a jug and make sure they are combined well. 

From there, put the cranberries, brown sugar, and the contents of the jug into the skillet and mix them together well to incorporate.

uncooked cranberries and brown sugar being stirred in skillet on BBQ
I like to mix the wet ingredients first, it just makes it a bit easier to combine when everything is in the skillet.

At 5-10 minutes in, you are going to see the cranberries starting to split. Continue stirring everything together regularly.  

Eventually, the cranberries will start to soften, and you can take a wooden spoon and start crushing them to help them break down. You will also notice that the sauce gets a nice red color as it cooks down. 

A wooden spoon with cranberry sauce on it over skillet
Cranberries retain such a great color.

Once the cranberries are broken down and the liquid in the skillet is mostly evaporated, you are all done. The texture should almost be like a loose jam or jelly. 

If you prefer to have a smooth sauce you can either, once cooled slightly, pour everything into a blender and blend until smooth or use an immersion blender which can be inserted right into the sauce while it’s still in the skillet and blend together. 

Sauce on a wooden spoon a the end of cook time, over skillet on BBQ
Once you get a jammy consistency you know you are at the end of your cook time.

You could even have a bit of both by only pureeing half the sauce and then adding it back to the chunky mixture.

It’s now ready to serve. You can have it warm, which is how I like it, or you can refrigerate and serve it cold. It will thicken upon cooling because of the pectin in the cranberries. 

More barbecue sauce ideas

sliced turkey on a plate with cranberry sauce

Cranberry BBQ Sauce

Better than a canned version. This fresh Cranberry BBQ Sauce is sweet and tart with a hot edge, and is ready in just 25 minutes.
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 89kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger


  • 12 oz bag cranberries
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp Worstershire Sauce
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 orange juice only
  • ½ cup brown sugar


  • Heat up your smoker to 350°F.
  • Place a 12" skillet on your smoker.
  • Place all ingredients, except cranberries and brown sugar, into a jug to combine.
  • Add the cranberries, brown sugar and the contents of the jug to the skillet and stir together to combine.
  • Continue stirring while cranberries start to split open.
  • As cranberries split and soften mash them down with a wooden spoon.
  • When the cranberries are broken down and the sauce thickens up you are all done.
  • You can blend everything together or serve chunky.
  • Serve warm or cold.


Calories: 89kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 180mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 98IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg
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