Healthy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

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This healthy cranberry sauce recipe is made in 15 minutes with 7 ingredients (no refined sugar)! Apple cider and orange juice impart sweetness and flavor.

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 favorite homemade cranberry sauce recipe, 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! When I make it, no one in my family can tell that I have deviated from our normal recipe – which speaks volumes for how absolutely delicious this healthy cranberry sauce really is.

If you have family members dining with you who have unique dietary needs, you can make this healthy cranberry sauce and no one will be able to tell that it’s paleo, vegan, and lower in sugar (with no refined sugar).

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

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

Healthy Cranberry Sauce: Substitutions

This recipe is fairly versatile, especially considering that it’s made with only 7 ingredients!

overhead photo of the labeled ingredients in this Healthy Cranberry Sauce recipe
  • 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.
side view of a bowl of Healthy Cranberry Sauce

How to Make Healthy Cranberry Sauce

This healthy cranberry sauce is made in 15 minutes! It’s so easy that you’ll never buy store-bought cranberry sauce again.

Begin by whisking the orange juice, apple cider, maple syrup and coconut sugar together in a 5 quart saucepan over medium-high heat, then bring the mixture to a boil.

One mixture comes to a boil, whisk in the cinnamon and a pinch of salt, then add the cranberries the saucepan and reduce heat to a simmer.

Simmer the mixture uncovered for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to pop.

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!”

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.

Note on Texture

If you like a chunky cranberry sauce, mash with a potato masher until you reach your desired consistency.

However, if you prefer smooth (not chunky) healthy cranberry sauce, blend the mixture after it cools to room temperature in the contianer of a high-powered blender (Vitamix) until smooth.

final healthy cranberry sauce mixture in a saucepan.

To Prepare in Advance

You can make this healthy cranberry sauce 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.

Serve

Serve with your favorite nutritious Thanksgiving recipes like roast turkey, healthy sweet potato casserole and whole wheat dinner rolls.

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

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 ounces fresh cranberries (rinsed)
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup apple cider (or unsweetened apple juice)
  • ½ cup honey (or pure maple syrup)
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch fine sea salt

Instructions 

  • In a medium sauce-pan, whisk together orange juice, apple cider, maple syrup, coconut sugar, cinnamon and salt over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add the cranberries to the saucepan and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Simmer the mixture uncovered for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries begin to pop and burst open.
  • Once most of the berries have popped/burst, use a potato masher, to gently mash the cranberries to thicken the mixture. The more you mash, the less chunky the sauce will be—your choice! (if you like very 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.
To Prepare in Advance
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!

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4.91 from 10 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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15 Comments

  1. This looks so lovely! I’m excited to try it! (I can’t believe I actually used to eat the canned cranberry sauce when I was little!) 😫

  2. Just a few smart swaps but it makes so much sense! I can’t wait to test drive this at Thanksgiving. <3 I love that you used your hubby as a guinea pig lol.

  3. Ya know I haven’t made my own cranberry sauce yet! That needs to change! This looks so tasty.