Healthy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

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This healthy cranberry sauce recipe is made in 15 minutes with 7 ingredients (no refined sugar)! Using apple cider and orange juice gives it a rich & spicy yet bright and citrusy flavor. It’s even best when made ahead of time! Gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free & paleo-friendly!

Overhead view of a bowl of Healthy Cranberry Sauce


This healthy cranberry sauce is a lighter version of one of our family’s must-have holiday side dishes. I already have a homemade cranberry sauce recipe on this site, which I have made more times than I can count.

And while it’ll always have a special place in my heart, I also love this healthier version! If you have family members joining you who have special dietary needs, you can make this healthy cranberry sauce and no one will even be able to tell that it’s paleo, vegan, and lower in sugar!

Plus, you can use leftovers to make the best turkey cranberry sandwich – YUM!

side view of a bowl of Healthy Cranberry Sauce

Healthy Cranberry Sauce: Substitutions

This recipe is actually fairly versatile, especially considering that it’s made with only 7 ingredients! Here are a few possible substitutions:

  • Apple Cider: Unsweetened apple juice can be used to ensure there is no added sugar and that the recipe is paleo. I suggest adding a pinch of a few other spices if you opt not to use apple cider (nutmeg, cloves, etc). This will compensate for the absence of spices in regular apple juice.
  • Orange Juice. You can make the recipe as written or tweak the amounts of apple cider and orange juice to your liking. You can even omit the orange juice all together and just use apple cider! However, I love the bright, citrusy flavor it imparts in this recipe! Another option is to omit the apple cider and use 1 cup of orange juice. However you may need to increase the maple syrup or coconut sugar to reach your desired sweetness.
  • Maple Syrup. Honey can be used in place of maple syrup.
  • Coconut Sugar. Any granulated sugar works well in this recipe! If not coconut sugar, I recommend organic cane sugar.
Overhead view of a colander with fresh cranberries and cinnamon sticks in it in the making of Healthy Cranberry Sauce

How to make healthy cranberry sauce

This healthy cranberry sauce comes together in 15 minutes! It’s so easy to make you’ll never buy store-bought cranberry sauce again!

Cook on the stovetop. 

One of my favorite parts of making this healthy cranberry sauce is that the cranberries “talk” to you while they cook. As they warm up they start popping and snapping. Keep cooking until most of the berries have “burst!”

Texture (Chunky vs. smooth). 

We like our cranberry sauce a little on the chunky side, so we opt to mash our cranberries with a potato masher and leave some cranberry chunks in there! 

However, if you enjoy yours extra-smooth no worries! Simply toss the mixture into your blender (Vitamix) after it’s fully cooked, and blend to the consistency you like.

collage of 6 photos showing how to make Healthy Cranberry Sauce

How to make ahead

You can make this recipe up to 3 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. I always make it at least 1 day before Thanksgiving because I like to give the flavors time to blend overnight.

Store/freeze

Store this healthy cranberry sauce in an airtight container (preferably a glass container with a lid) in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

overhead view of a bowl of Healthy Cranberry Sauce

Recipe FAQs

Do you serve cranberry sauce hot or cold?

We prefer to server our cranberry sauce cold, so I recommend chilling it for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

How long does cranberry sauce last?

This recipe lasts for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, and 2 months in the freezer.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes. You can double or triple the recipe using the 2X and 3X buttons in the recipe card. I always triple this recipe to make for a large number of guests on Thanksgiving.

overhead view of a bowl of Healthy Cranberry Sauce with a spoon in it

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Healthy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Laura
This healthy cranberry sauce recipe is made in 15 minutes with 7 ingredients (no refined sugar)! Using apple cider and orange juice gives it a rich & spicy yet bright and citrusy flavor. It's even best when made ahead of time! Gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free & paleo-friendly!
4.91 from 10 votes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 109.8
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Cooling time5 minutes
Total Time15 minutes

Ingredients 
 

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries rinsed
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions 

  • In a medium sauce-pan, whisk together orange juice, apple cider, maple syrup, and coconut sugar over medium-high heat.
  • One mixture comes to a boil, whisk in the cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
  • Pour cranberries into the saucepan and reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Simmer the mixture uncovered for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries begin to pop! (You will literally hear popping noises and the berries will burst open)!
  • Using a potato masher, gently mash the cranberries to thicken the mixture. The more you mash, the less chunky the sauce will be—your choice! (if you like extra-smooth cranberry sauce, blend the mixture in your Vitamix until smooth).
  • Simmer for another 3 minutes and then turn off heat but leave the pot uncovered on top of the burner to cool and thicken for 20-30 minutes.
  • Store in refrigerator in an airtight container!

Video

Notes

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Apple Cider: Unsweetened apple juice can be used to ensure there is no added sugar and that the recipe is paleo. I suggest adding a pinch of a few other spices if you opt not to use apple cider (nutmeg, cloves, etc). This will compensate for the absence of spices in regular apple juice.
  • Orange Juice. You can make the recipe as written or tweak the amounts of apple cider and orange juice to your liking. You can even omit the orange juice all together and just use apple cider! However, I love the bright, citrusy flavor it imparts in this recipe! Another option is to omit the apple cider and use 1 cup of orange juice. However you may need to increase the maple syrup or coconut sugar to reach your desired sweetness.
  • Maple Syrup. Honey can be used in place of maple syrup.
  • Coconut Sugar. Any granulated sugar works well in this recipe! If not coconut sugar, I recommend organic cane sugar.

How to make ahead

You can make this recipe up to 3 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. I always make it at least 1 day before Thanksgiving because I like to give the flavors time to blend overnight.

Store/freeze

Store this healthy cranberry sauce in an airtight container (preferably a glass container with a lid) in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 109.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 28.2g | Protein: 0.1g | Sodium: 33.4mg | Potassium: 27.2mg | Fiber: 1.5g | Sugar: 26.5g | Vitamin C: 4.1mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Have a question? Leave a comment below!

I made this paleo cranberry sauce recipe and casually told my husband, “Hey babe, there’s homemade cranberry sauce in the fridge.” He immediately grabbed a spoon and dove right in {because it’s one of his favorites}. I silently waited for his response…which was, “Your homemade cranberry sauce is the best! It’s so good!”

Jackpot. He had no idea that I had switched up the recipe and actually made this Healthy Cranberry Sauce with orange juie! Since it passed the “Ritch test” with flying colors, I knew I had to share it with all of you!

More Delicious Thanksgiving recipes:

Obviously I recommend making this cranberry sauce stuffing recipe as part of your Thanksgiving feast! Here are some of the recipes we make on Thanksgiving:

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product through a link you clicked on here, I receive a portion of the sale. Thank you for supporting JoyFoodSunshine! 




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15 Comments

  1. The recipe I’ve been looking for! I have some cranberries in the freezer, but haven’t wanted to make an overly sugary sauce. This looks like the one!

  2. LOVE cranberry sauce! I think it is probably my favorite Thanksgiving food, yes even over pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, about the only thing that comes close is roasted veggies and sweet potatoes (not the ones swimming in sugar). I just started making them with honey and love it. I’ve never used apple cider making them though, I need to try that.

  3. I love that this is sweetened with honey rather than other traditional refined sugars! I find fresh cranberries a little too tart to enjoy on their own, so the combo of the sweet honey and orange juice sounds delicious!

  4. This looks great! I always forget how easy (and more delicious) homemade cranberry sauce is!

  5. I LOVE cranberry sauce. And once you’ve had homemade, you will never buy the canned stuff again! This looks delicious!

  6. 5 stars
    Homemade cranberry sauce truly is my favorite. It makes such a good topping for the turkey. and I love that you shared this.