Add this orange cranberry jam to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner menu! Similar to cranberry sauce, this holiday classic is flavored with orange, thyme, and pecans to compliment the tart cranberries.

Orange cranberry jam in a bowl


  • Skill Level: Beginner

There are many different ways to make this twist on cranberry sauce. My orange cranberry jam is packed with interesting flavor from the tart cranberries, sweet orange juice, fresh thyme, and crunchy pecans. This is my favorite version of the most beautiful holiday side dish.

Why you need to make this orange cranberry jam

  • With only 6 ingredients, this Thanksgiving side dish is simple to make.
  • There is so much depth of flavor thanks to the combination of ingredients used. One taste of this orange cranberry jam and you’ll understand why this cranberry sauce is set apart from the rest.
  • From start to finish, this orange cranberry jam is made in only 15 minutes!
  • This recipe is a timesaver on busy holidays! Make it several days in advance and store in the refrigerator until dinner time.
Orange cranberry jam in a bowl

Ingredient Functions

  • Cranberries are the star of any cranberry sauce recipe. You can use frozen or fresh cranberries.
  • Sugar helps absorb some of the liquid when the fruit releases its juices. Once heated, sugar thickens the sauce and sweetens it, balancing out the tartness. 
  • Orange juice can be replaced with water but I enjoy the classic holiday flavor it adds to this jam. Some recipes call for a splash of lemon juice (or other citrus fruits) but I skipped it as the cranberries are already tart enough.
  • Fresh thyme is optional but adds a warm and herby flavor to this sweet jam.
  • Salt rounds out the sweetness from the sugar.
  • Pecans, while optional, add an unexpected crunch and nutty flavor to this jam. I like to toast the pecan pieces before stirring into the jam. Walnuts or pistachios would be a welcome substitution.

Flavor Variations

Traditional Cranberry Sauce: Replace the orange juice in the recipe with water and remove the thyme and pecans for a more traditional jam.

Cranberry Ginger Sauce: Add ¾-1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh ginger to the saucepan with the other ingredients.

Homemade jam is a great holiday gift! Simply fill canning jars (like half-pint jars) with jam and tie a beautiful ribbon with a cinnamon stick around it.

How to make Orange Cranberry Jam

All ingredients for orange cranberry jam laid out

The process of making orange cranberry jam is the same for other jams and sauces. Cook fruit, sugar, and other flavorings on the stovetop until the fruit is broken down and the mixture thickens.

To start the simple process, place all of the ingredients (except the pecans) into a medium saucepan on the stove. If using frozen cranberries, there is no need to thaw them first (use them right from frozen). Turn the heat to medium and give it a good stir. Stir frequently until the mixture achieves a low boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer.

Keep stirring until most of the cranberries pop and the jam thickens. If you want a saucier jam, cook for about 8 minutes. If you want a chunkier jam, cook for 10-12 minutes. I like a chunkier jam, so I cooked it for about 12 minutes.

I like to leave some of the cranberries whole for a pretty visual; however, mash the few remaining whole berries with a potato masher or wooden spoon if you prefer.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir the pecan pieces into the hot jam. Let the jam cool completely at room temperature. The jam will thicken as it cools. Once cool, move to an airtight container and place in the refrigerator.

Use this orange cranberry jam in place of the cranberry relish in my brie cranberry tart and as the filling in my no-bake mini cranberry cream cheese tarts.


What is the difference between cranberry sauce and cranberry jam?

Cranberry sauce and cranberry jam are essentially the same thing. They are both made with sugar and cranberries, although jams sometimes have added spices and flavorings.

Cranberry orange marmalade is also very similar but includes using the orange peel.

How do you make cranberry sauce thicker?

Cranberry sauce will thicken the longer it cooks. If you prefer a thinner, saucier jam, cook it for about 8 minutes. For a thicker jam, cook it longer. Keep in mind that the jam will also thicken as it cools.

What to serve with orange cranberry jam?

This flavorful jam is the perfect side dish to your Thanksgiving meal. Paired with turkey, gravy, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, it doesn’t get any better!

For the ultimate leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, spread this orange cranberry jam onto sandwich bread. There are so many other delicious ways to serve this colorful jam!

Make-Ahead Orange Cranberry Jam

Orange cranberry jam, like other jams and fruit sauces, is commonly made in advance. The flavors really start to develop as they meld together in the refrigerator.

Refrigerator: Store the jam in an airtight container for up to 1 week before serving.

Freezer: Orange cranberry jam can be stored in the freezer for several months. Once it has completely cooled, move the jam to zipper bags, squeeze out the air, and freeze. The night before serving, move the jam to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Rewarm on the stove if serving warm.


If you enjoyed this cranberry orange jam recipe, you might like to try these holiday dinner favorites.

Orange cranberry jam in a bown
Yield: 2 ½ cups

Orange Cranberry Jam

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Add this orange cranberry jam to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner menu! Similar to cranberry sauce, this holiday classic is flavored with orange, thyme, and pecans to compliment the tart cranberries.


  • 336 grams (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • large pinch kosher salt
  • 56 grams (¼ cup, 60 milliliters) orange juice
  • 50 grams (½ cup) chopped and toasted pecans, optional



  1. If using, chop and toast the pecans, mince the fresh thyme, and set aside.
  2. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.


  1. Place the cranberries (336 grams/ 12 ounces), granulated sugar (200 grams/ 1 cup), minced fresh thyme (1 ½ teaspoons), salt (large pinch), and orange juice (56 grams/ ¼ cup) in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir frequently until it starts to boil and then turn the heat to low and simmer.
  3. Keep stirring until most of the cranberries pop and the jam thickens. This will take about 8-12 minutes. The longer you cook the jam, the thicker it will become. It will thicken as it cools.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and if using, stir in the chopped and toasted pecans (50 grams (½ cup).
  5. Let cool completely and then move to an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Garnish Ideas: orange zest, candied orange peels, sugared cranberries, or fresh or sugared thyme

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