Give this Healthy Cranberry Sauce a try and you’ll never want to buy canned again! Homemade is SO much better and incredibly easy to make. It’s packed with delicious fresh flavor and is the perfect blend of sweet and tart. All you need is 4 key ingredients and just 15 minutes!

healthy cranberry sauce in a bowl with fresh rosemary and orange slices

Cranberry sauce is a favorite of mine! I absolutely love the pairing of tart, slightly sweet cranberry sauce with savory turkey and dressing. Such a tasty combo!

There are a few foods that are must-haves at my Thanksgiving meal. I cannot let the holidays pass by without pumpkin pie bars, broccoli rice casserole and fresh cranberry sauce. This recipe just happens to be the best cranberry sauce I’ve had! It’s just the right amount of sweet while still remaining true to the delicious tart profile of cranberries. The texture is perfect and with how easy this sauce is to make, you’ll never want to go back to the cans!

Even if you’re not in charge of Turkey Day dinner this year, I recommend trying out this low sugar cranberry sauce recipe! You’ll definitely need it for these leftover turkey sliders and it makes a great snack, mixed with Greek yogurt and vanilla ice cream, too.

stirring cranberry sauce

Ingredients needed

This healthy cranberry sauce tastes amazing will complete your holiday meal and the ingredient list is short and sweet! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fresh or frozen cranberries. I typically use fresh cranberries, but if you have frozen those will work just fine. No need to thaw frozen cranberries.
  • Water. The water is needed to thin the sauce a bit, so it’s not too thick.
  • Orange zest. For wonderful fresh flavor.
  • Sugar or stevia. The sweeteners you choose to sweeten the cranberry sauce with is really up to you. You can totally just use regular granulated sugar – the recipe is still healthier than most because we’re only using 1/3 cup, whereas most recipes use 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar. Brown sugar also works great and gives the sauce a lovely richness. To make a ‘no sugar added’ cranberry sauce, substitute sugar with Stevia (affiliate). Stevia in the Raw (and many other stevia blends) measures cup-for-cup for sugar, so no conversion is needed.
  • Optional add-ins. I’m sure you have ground cinnamon and vanilla extract in your pantry and I highly recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of each to this sauce to really take it to the next level.
cranberries, orange zest and stevia in a small pot

HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY CRANBERRY SAUCE

This has to be the simplest of all Thanksgiving dishes — from start to finish, this healthy cranberry sauce takes only 15 minutes to make! Here’s the simple process, but for the full, printable recipe, reference the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

  1. Combine ingredients in medium pot. Start by combining cranberries, orange zest, water and Stevia in a medium saucepan or large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Boil then reduce to a simmer. Set over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Watch closely and stir frequently. The cranberries will begin to become soft, break down, and thicken the sauce (thanks to the natural pectin in cranberries).
  3. Cool and serve. You can use a fork or potato masher to smash the cranberries as they become tender. Once you remove the sauce from the heat, the natural pectins in the cranberries will continue to thicken the sauce. I like to let my cranberry sauce cool for about 20-30 minutes before serving. And that’s it. I told you homemade cranberry sauce is actually SO easy!

For a festive presentation: Add a bit of orange zest over the top of the cranberry sauce before serving.

Make ahead

You can make cranberry sauce up to 3 days before you plan to serve it. I always make my cranberry sauce at least one day in advance because I feel like the flavors have more time to develop as it sits in the fridge. Simply, allow it to cool completely and then store it in an airtight container in the fridge. It can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.

cooking cranberries in a small pot

Flavor Variations

We really love this cranberry sauce as-is – it’s simple, but so tasty! However, if you’d like to change up the flavors, here are some options.

  • Add more spices. Simmer with a cinnamon stick and/or add a few pinches of ground nutmeg and cloves.
  • Juice. Substitute water with fresh orange juice, unsweetened cranberry juice or a cranberry juice blend.
  • Boozy. Add 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier, bourbon, brandy, amaretto or scotch whiskey.
  • Nuts. Mix in chopped pecans or walnuts after cooling.
  • Fruit. Stir in diced apple or apple sauce, cherries, crushed pineapple or diced pear.
  • Maple syrup or honey. You can replace the sugar/Stevia with 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey.

WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER CRANBERRY SAUCE

No worries if you have leftover cranberry sauce. There are sooooo many great ways to enjoy it!

  • Serve it over top of pancakes or waffles with a side of whipped cream. Yum!
  • Spoon over baked or mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato casserole.
  • Use it as jam and spread it over toast or smear it with cream cheese over a bagel.
  • Make sweet and savory turkey sandwiches.
  • Serve a scoop over the top of your favorite oatmeal.
  • Make these delicious leftover turkey sliders.
  • Add it to yogurt and granola and make a parfait.
  • Serve warm over vanilla or pumpkin ice cream.
  • Spoon over the top of cheesecake.
  • Pour leftover sauce over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers.
using a wooden spoon to serve cranberry sauce

Storing leftovers

Let your cranberry sauce cool completely. Then, add it to an airtight container where it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to about 2 weeks.

Can you Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

Yes! Cranberry sauce freezes really well and will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place cooled cranberry sauce in an airtight container (be sure to leave the 1/2-inch gap on top for expansion as it freezes), thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to use, then rewarm, if desired.

fresh cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a spoon

SERVE THIS CRANBERRY SAUCE ALONGSIDE:

Here are some of our family favorite holiday dishes. Hope you get to try one or more of them!

If you try this healthy cranberry sauce recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.

spoon in a bowl of healthy cranberry sauce
fresh cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a spoon
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Healthy Cranberry Sauce {no added sugar}

Give this Healthy Cranberry Sauce a try and you’ll never want to buy canned again! Homemade is SO much better and incredibly easy to make. It's packed with delicious fresh flavor and is the perfect blend of sweet and tart. All you need is 4 key ingredients and just 15 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-10 oz) bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest*
  • 1/3 cup Stevia that measures like sugar**, (or sugar or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla , (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon , (optional)

Instructions 

  • Combine cranberries, water, orange zest, and Stevia in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened to your liking, about 5 to 10 minutes.
    cranberries, orange zest and stevia in a small pot
  • Use a fork or potato masher, if desired, to further mash up cranberries. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cinnamon, if using.
    cooking cranberry sauce in a small pot
  • The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. It will keep in the refrigerator in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
    using a wooden spoon to serve cranberry sauce

Notes

*HOW TO REMOVE ZEST: I use a microplane grater (affiliate link) which easily removes the zest. You could also use the fine holes of your box grater. If you want to simplify, skip the zest and stir in ¼ cup orange juice instead.
**You can replace the sugar/Stevia with 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey.
Serving: 2tablespoons, Calories: 10kcal, Carbohydrates: 2.5g, Sodium: 0.4mg, Potassium: 15.8mg, Fiber: 0.8g, Sugar: 0.8g, Vitamin A: 5IU, Vitamin C: 3.8mg, Calcium: 14mg

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