Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (Low Sugar)

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce is a healthy recipe that has hints of pineapple and citrus. It has no sugar and is optionally sweetened with honey.
Wellness Mama » Blog » Recipes » Side Dish Recipes » Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (Low Sugar)

I’ve always thought that homemade versions of classic recipes taste much better than store-bought versions, and cranberry sauce is a perfect example of this. Although I loved the canned jellied cranberry sauce that we always ate on Thanksgiving when I was young, after I tried making cranberry sauce from scratch one year, I was hooked.

Now I have a whole list of re-invented, healthier recipes for the holidays, most of which call for real food ingredients, little prep, and a lot less sugar.

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

Most homemade cranberry sauce recipes call for a lot of sugar… enough that I’d classify cranberry sauce a dessert and not a side dish!

For those who haven’t tried them, plain cranberries are very tart, so I wasn’t sure how much it would be possible to reduce the sugar and still have an enjoyable sauce. I shouldn’t have worried, because unrefined natural sweeteners (honey) and delicious applesauce filled in the gaps.

healthy cranberry sauce recipe

This recipe still has more natural sugars than we normally eat, but is a much healthier option than the ones that actually contain refined sugar and is a delicious treat for Thanksgiving dinner.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, also check out my healthy versions of green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, butternut squash soup, and root vegetable stuffing.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce is a healthy recipe that has hints of pineapple and citrus. It has no sugar and is optionally sweetened with honey.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

A homemade alternative to store-bought cranberry sauce with delicious hints of pineapple and orange to complement the flavor!
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Calories 98kcal
Author Katie Wells


4 cups


  • 24 oz fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cup pineapple juice or orange juice
  • ½ cup no sugar added applesauce
  • ½ cup water
  • juice and zest of one orange
  • 3-4 TBSP  honey or to taste optional


  • Put cranberries, pineapple juice, applesauce and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to medium heat and stir constantly until the cranberries start to explode (about 10-15 minutes).
  • Reduce to a simmer and add the juice and zest to the cranberry mixture.
  • Simmer 10-15 minutes and remove from heat.
  • Cool completely and store in fridge at least 4 hours but preferably overnight before serving.


Nutrition Facts
Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 /2 cup)
Calories 98 Calories from Fat 1
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.1g0%
Sodium 2mg0%
Carbohydrates 21.2g7%
Fiber 3.7g15%
Sugar 14.9g17%
Protein 0.3g1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


This is not as sweet as store-bought versions! Taste at the end of cooking. It is naturally sweet from the fruit juice and applesauce but you can add more honey or stevia to taste if needed.

Like this recipe? Check out my new cookbook, or get all my recipes (over 500!) in a personalized weekly meal planner here!

Do you eat cranberry sauce? What foods do you always have at Thanksgiving? Share below!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce is a healthy recipe that has hints of pineapple and citrus. It has no sugar and is optionally sweetened with honey.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


75 responses to “Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe (Low Sugar)”

  1. Jerri-Lynn Avatar

    I don’t know much about cranberry sauce. Can this be made the day before and how do you store it? Do you serve it cold or room temp? Thank you

  2. Nancy Dobbins Avatar
    Nancy Dobbins

    5 stars
    Hi Katie,
    I love this recipe…perfect for the upcoming holidays. I’m in the process of starting a blog and want to share my favorite, healthy, holiday recipes…and this is sure one!

    Would you mind if I link back to your post from my site? As I said, it is still under construction and is a blog about living a happy, healthy retirement…I am always searching for recipes that help my husband and I to transition to a wfpb diet and I come back to your site frequency. Can’t wait to share!


    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      It’s fine to link to the post and even quote from it, but I don’t allow full articles to be republished elsewhere. Thanks for checking though!

  3. Anne Avatar

    5 stars
    Hi Cheryl, the only citrus I can do is lemon, I like how you said pineapple juice can be used as an option. Would it be a good substitute to use a lemon zest on this recipe? Thank you in advance, A. 🙂 Also, would you think I could trade out pineapple juice with a lot of recipes requiring it?

  4. Isabel Avatar

    Hey! Wanted to make this recipe but it’s totally got added sugar! Would be awesome if you could cut the added back!

      1. Brooke Avatar

        Thanks for this much-healthier-than-storebought version!! Honey, while not *cane* sugar, is a form of sugar. Some might even consider the fruit juice to be “added sugar,” and since you state the honey is optional, maybe that’s what she’s referring to? Not sure how you could make a good cranberry sauce without all the sweet juice though, as cranberries are so tart and bitter. I’m excited to try this recipe without the honey since I tend to avoid sweeteners in general, but I’ll add some if necessary.
        Thanks again Katie!! A fruit-sweetened cranberry sauce is exactly what I wanted for this Thanksgiving!

  5. Rachel @ CasulaMellita Avatar
    Rachel @ CasulaMellita

    I am SO grateful you shared this post! I’m on Whole30, and so I cannot have many of my cherished favorites for Thanksgiving (stickin’ to my plan over here). I was hopeful that I’d be able to find a sugar-free (yes, fruit still has sugar, but no added sugar) option so I wouldn’t have to give up cranberry sauce too. THANK YOU! 🙂

  6. Nancy Avatar

    Sounds yummy. Never tried pineapple juice before – maybe puree ripe pineapple? I always add a chopped apple and pear and walnuts to mine. No need for added sugar with the sweetness of the fruit. Red raspberries are a wonderful addition too!

  7. Lisa Roll Avatar

    I am hosting a Family Gathering (about 19 people this year) and am serving ham and smoked turkey. I am always looking for something to serve with a smoked turkey. Would this work well? Any other ideas?

  8. Kami Avatar

    …Really? This isn’t sugarless, for the simple fact that you’ve already added sugar in the form of fructose with the apple sauce and pineapple/orange juice. Even the cranberries have sugar in them, albeit a very small amount. This is free from refined sugars, but not sugar in general. True enough this is healthier than your standard cranberry sauce, but you’re looking for a nice low-carb cranberry sauce, you’d be better off just substituting the refined sugar a with a sugar substitute such as stevia. Then it’s much lower in carbs and calories and much healthier for you.

  9. chaline Beekmans Avatar
    chaline Beekmans

    5 stars
    My dad, has been making this for the past thirty years. He reduced the sugar every year and now there is only orange juice and a couple of slices of lemons in it. No need for that much sugar. The canned stuff is disgusting.

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