This Healthy Cranberry Sauce with 3 simple ingredients is naturally sweetened and can be completely sugar free. Sweet, tangy and takes only 10 minutes!

Perfect addition to your Thanksgiving juicy turkey breast with healthy turkey gravy and healthy mashed potatoes.

healthy cranberry sauce in white bowl with orange peels and rosemary

There is no more easy Thanksgiving dish to make than this healthy cranberry sauce. You will be wondering why you haven’t made it until now, just like me. I have been avoiding store-bought canned jello cranberry sauce stuff but haven’t made my own for years.

Not only store-bought cranberry sauce’s ingredients are unhealthy but I am not a fan of the shimmering cylinder of gelatinous cranberry sauce on a plate looks.

Now, this homemade cranberry sauce recipe is a different story! It will become a staple in your healthy Thanksgiving recipes menu planning.

Buy and freeze fresh cranberries when in season – they last up to 18 months. Then cook sauce with frozen berries any time of the year. No need to thaw.frozen cranberries in a bowl

Why This Healthy Recipe is Good?

  • Low sugar: Made with maple syrup or natural sugar-free alternatives.
  • Easy: Only 3 ingredients and a total of 10 minutes prep.
  • Delicious: Sweet and tangy, with real pieces of cranberries, it’s the way fresh cranberry sauce should taste! 
  • Pretty: Its ruby-red vibrant color adds a burst to otherwise beige looking meal.
closeup of healthy cranberry sauce with ladle

Ingredients for Sugar Free Cranberry Sauce

Turkey and cranberries are a match made in heaven. Just like chicken and lemon. This homemade low sugar sauce is basically a jam.

  • Cranberries: 12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries.
  • Sweetener: Maple syrup, honey or agave nectar.

For sugar free cranberry sauce: Use equal amount of erythritol or monk fruit sweetener. Both are naturally derived and have virtually zero after taste (unlike stevia). For vegan cranberry sauce: Remember to use maple syrup instead of honey.

  • Orange juice: Fresh orange juice from a carton or freshly squeezed. It adds nice depth of flavor to tart cranberries, always.
  • Optional: Vanilla extract and cinnamon.
cranberries, orange juice and maple syrup on kitchen counter

How to Make Healthy Cranberry Sauce

Healthy cranberry sauce is incredibly easy to make in 10 minutes. It’s not even real cooking!

  • Prep: Rinse, drain and discard any squishy cranberries. Add them to a medium saucepan along with maple syrup and orange juice.
  • Cook: Bring to a boil covered and cook on low-medium heat for 6 minutes. Remove the lid, stir and cook for 3 more minutes or until cranberry sauce has thickened. No need to add cornstarch or gelatin as cranberry sauce with maple syrup or honey will thicken on its own.
  • Stir: No need to blend the sauce because when you stir, cranberries will break down.
  • Cool: To your preferred temperature – some serve it cold, some prefer it warm. November is a cool month, stick the sauce pan outside for 30 minutes. Ukrainian hack!

Cranberries are cooked when you hear them pop.

Tips and Variations

This is basic healthy cranberry sauce recipe not to overburden you on a busy Thanksgiving cooking day, especially if you have to juggle between kids and kitchen. Here are a few different flavor ideas: 

  • Add spices: I added 1/8 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp vanilla extract. You can add none, add more or add extra spices like nutmeg, cloves or allspice. So good either way – have fun with it!
  • Add more sweetener: This is low sugar cranberry sauce recipe with only 14 grams of natural sugar per serving. If you would like to make it sweeter, add 1/2 cup of sweetener of choice.
  • Add orange zest: This is almost a must to do if you juice a fresh orange instead of a carton juice. Just remember to zest the fruit first before cutting it in half and juicing. To remove orange zest,  i like to use a Microplane zester.
  • Smooth sauce: If you like smooth consistency cranberry sauce, then you can either mash the mixture with a masher or blend in a blender. Add water to thin it out, if necessary.
  • Too thick or too thin? Cranberry sauce will thicken with time, especially the next day and in the refrigerator as it cools down. You can always add water.

Common FAQs

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

Yes. I recommend to portion out cranberry sauce in smaller airtight containers because it is a condiment. Make sure to leave some room for expansion, then freeze for up to 6 months. When ready to eat, thaw on the counter for a few hours or in the fridge overnight.

If you make sugar free cranberry sauce, it can crystalize a bit in the freezer. Just give it a stir.

What to do with leftover cranberry sauce?

1. Make turkey sandwiches or quesadillas with leftover turkey, cheese, cranberry sauce and pesto. To die for!
2. It’s a breakfast food – mix with plain yogurt or stir into an oatmeal.
3. Spread a few tablespoons instead of a jam on toast.
4. Make a drink – add sparkling water or Bubbly, stir, let berries settle on the bottom and enjoy a healthy pop. Ukrainian hack – we always did it with a jam.

Simply treat it like a condiment and use as a jam. Brie cheese with cranberry sauce, mmmm. Baked or on crackers.

Is cranberry sauce in a can good for you?

Ingredients in a typical Ocean Spray can of cranberry sauce are the following: cranberries, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup and water. Anything corn syrup is highly processed and is not good for us.

Many recipes online call for 1 cup of refined white sugar. We use only 1/3 cup of natural sweetener full of vitamins and minerals.

How long does cranberry sauce last in the fridge?

For about 2 weeks.

Making Low Sugar Cranberry Sauce in Advance

You can actually serve cranberry sauce warm or cold, so making it in advance is a great idea. Simmer in a pot to warm up made ahead sauce or serve right away. Store cooked sauce in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. I love to use glass mason jar with a lid as it preserves authentic fresh taste.

You can also freeze it for up to 6 months. Make sure you leave room inside the container for sauce to expand. When ready to serve, thaw cranberry sauce on a counter for a few hours. If you like sauce warm, simmer in a small pot on low heat.

This healthy cranberry sauce recipe is so forgiving, your guests won’t know if it was frozen before or that is sugar free. So good!

More Recipes with Cranberries

sugar free cranberry sauce in a pot with ladle
healthy cranberry sauce

Healthy Cranberry Sauce

This Healthy Cranberry Sauce with 3 simple ingredients is naturally sweetened and can be completely sugar free. Sweet, tangy and takes only 10 minutes!
4.75 from 4 votes
Servings 8
Calories 70
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Total Time 11 minutes

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Go through cranberries and discard any squishy ones.
  • Add cranberries, maple syrup and orange juice to a small pot. Bring to a boil covered, reduce heat to medium and cook for 6 minutes. Cranberries are cooked when you hear them pop.
  • Remove lid, add cinnamon and vanilla if you wish, stir and cook for 3 more minutes or until cranberry sauce has thickened. No need to add cornstarch or gelatin as cranberries and honey will thicken on their own.
  • Serve hot or cold with turkey and mashed potatoes.

Notes

  • Store: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 weeks in glass mason jar with lid. Add to oatmeal, yogurt and granola, or make turkey sandwiches.
  • Freeze: Leave room for sauce to expand and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw on a counter for a few hours or in the fridge overnight. If you like sauce warm, simmer in a small pot on low heat.
  • For sugar free cranberry sauce: Use equal amount of erythritol or monk fruit sweetener. Both are naturally derived and have virtually zero after taste (unlike stevia).
  • Add spices: I added 1/8 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp vanilla extract. You can add none, add more or add extra spices like nutmeg, cloves or allspice. So good either way – have fun with it!
  • Add more sweetener: This is low sugar cranberry sauce recipe with only 14 grams of natural sugar per serving. If you would like to make it sweeter, add 1/2 cup of sweetener of choice.
  • Add orange zest: Zest the fruit first before cutting it in half and juicing. To remove orange zest, I like to use a Microplane zester.
  • Smooth sauce: Mash the mixture with a masher or blend in a blender. Add water to thin it out, if necessary.
  • Too thick or too thin? Cranberry sauce will thicken with time, especially the next day and in the refrigerator as it cools down. You can always add water.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 70kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: North American
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe Olena, so much better than canned. Approved by my family, doubled the recipe for everyone’s enjoyment!

    1. Compared to conventional store-bought and traditional recipes with 40 grams and up 14 grams of sugar is low sugar. It is all in comparison, right?! Plus maple syrup is a healthy sugar, not refined sugar. You can also use natural sugar free sweeteners like erythritol and monk fruit extract to make it very low sugar. Low sugar to you might be 2 grams and low sugar to me might be 14 grams. Health is not about eliminating sugar, sodium, fat etc. completely from one’s diet and there is so much more to it, and it truly means different things to each and every one of us. Glad to hear you are enjoying my recipes! Happy Holidays!

  2. I will be making this and as I live on my own i freeze a lot so I freeze it in large ice cubs and take out what I need and it works for me

  3. 4 stars
    I love your version of this,I usually do mine who Brown sugar,& Orange juice,I am waiting patiently to try your version with the maple syrup sounds devine??

  4. I did a recipe similar to this but added a packet of geletan to make it more like the jellied cans without the junk! I didn’t add the OJ and I like that idea!

    1. Sounds good! I found this sauce thickened quite a lot. I use it as a jam now. But if you like gelatin – totally works. I guess need more water.

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