November 2, 2020

Healthy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Healthy cranberry sauce made with fresh orange, maple syrup, and a touch of vanilla extract. This easy recipe comes together in minutes and is the perfect healthier version of a classic holiday side!

cranberry sauce in bowl

The Best Healthy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce! Do you hate it? Do you love it? I’ll be honest, when I was growing up I loathed the can of jellied cranberry slices that always accompanied our Thanksgiving meal. It was overly sweet while still somehow lacking in flavor and the jello like texture was…not my favorite.

Fast forward to a few years ago and I finally decided that enough was enough with the cranberry jello. I decided to make my own homemade cranberry sauce with fresh orange juice, a touch of vanilla, and sweetened with all natural maple syrup instead of corn syrup or refined white sugar. The result is a delicious, flavorful, and perfectly balanced cranberry sauce that pairs well with all of your favorite Thanksgiving sides.

While I’m not someone who tries to avoid her favorite foods for the sake of ‘health’ over the holidays, (I fully believe in enjoying all of the holiday favorites), I don’t love the idea of high fructose corn syrup in my Thanksgiving dishes. Especially when I can make a much more delicious dish with better for you ingredients instead.

Is Homemade Cranberry Sauce Healthy?

Yes! Canned cranberry sauce is usually made with high fructose corn syrup, water, and more corn syrup. While I’m not someone who tries to avoid her favorite foods for the sake of ‘health’ over the holidays, (I fully believe in enjoying all of the holiday favorites), I don’t love the idea of high fructose corn syrup in my Thanksgiving meal. Especially when I can make a much more delicious dish with better for you ingredients instead.

This homemade, and healthier version, of cranberry sauce uses maple syrup instead of corn syrup and orange juice instead of water to add additional flavor. Because it is made with simple real food ingredients, it is a healthier and better tasting version of the classic Thanksgiving dish.

cranberry sauce ingredients

Low Sugar Cranberry Sauce Recipe Ingredients

Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

Fresh or Frozen Cranberries: You can use fresh or frozen cranberries for this recipe. Either will work well, just be sure to give the fresh cranberries a rinse before using to make sure that they are clean.

Orange Juice: This gives the cranberry sauce a delicious orange flavor and works as a sweetener.

Maple Syrup: Instead of refined white sugar, this recipe uses maple syrup as an all natural sweetener.

Vanilla Extract: Adds just the right amount of flavor to the cranberry sauce.

Cinnamon: This ingredient is optional but adds such a great depth of flavor to the sauce. Feel free to leave it out if you prefer.

Kitchen Tools You’ll Need to Make This Recipe

Sauce pot

Spatula

Measuring cups

Microplane or box grater

Citrus juicer

cranberries in pot with orange juice pouring in

How to Make Healthy Cranberry Sauce

Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

Step One: First, place the cranberries, orange juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon in a small pot or saucepan over medium high heat. 

Step Two: Next, bring the cranberry mixture to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, cover and reduce the heat. Allow the sauce to cook 10-15 minutes until all of the cranberries have popped and the sauce has started to thicken. 

cranberries in pot with wooden spoon

Step Three: Remove the lid from the cranberry sauce and reduce the heat to a simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring the sauce occasionally while it cooks. The longer the sauce simmers the thicker it will become. Remember, it will also thicken as it cools so no need to thicken the sauce completely at this stage.

Step Four: Once the cranberry sauce is done cooking, transfer the sauce to a bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once the sauce is cooled, refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight and let it chill. When the sauce has chilled, it’s time to serve! I like to finish it off with a little orange zest on top before serving.

Can Cranberry Sauce Be Made In Advance?

Yes! I personally think it’s best to make your cranberry sauce at least a day in advance if you can because it will need at least two hour to chill and fully thicken in the fridge. You can make this cranberry sauce up to five days in advance if you would like.

cranberry sauce in bowl

More Healthy Holiday Sides

Honey Mustard Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Fall Harvest Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Balsamic, and Cranberries

Loaded Mashed Cauliflower

Shredded Brussels sprouts Salad

Rosemary and White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Perfectly Roasted Sweet Potatoes 

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Recipe by: Ashlea Carver / All the Healthy Things | Photography by: Casey Colodny / THE MINDFUL HAPA

Print

Healthy Cranberry Sauce

  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free
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Scale:
  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ cup maple syrup 
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

Method

  1. Place the cranberries, orange juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon in a small pot or saucepan over medium high heat. 
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat. Allow the sauce to cook 10-15 minutes until all of the cranberries have popped and the sauce has started to thicken. 
  3. Remove the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring the sauce occasionally while it cooks. The longer the sauce simmers the thicker it will become. It will also thicken as it cools. 
  4. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a bowl and allow it cool to room temperature. Once cooled, refrigerate the sauce for a few hours to chill. Serve with a little orange zest on top. 

Keywords: healthy cranberry sauce, homemade cranberry sauce, healthy homemade cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving side dishes

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    1 comment
  1. Never buying store-bought cranberry sauce again!!! This was so easy to make and came together so quickly. Delicious and absolutely serving at Thanksgiving this year!!!

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