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.
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.
Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- 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.
Do you eat cranberry sauce? What foods do you always have at Thanksgiving? Share below!
Discussion (75 Comments)
This cranberry recipe sounds delicious. I usually buy extra fresh cranberries at Thanksgiving and freeze them . Then I can make this recipe anytime of year. My question is, can I use Stevia instead of honey?
I eat turkey all year ’round and enjoy cranberry sauce with it. Recently I’ve begged the supermarket to get organic or other cranberry sauce without high fructose corn syrup which is so unhealthy and seems to be in all prepared brands. I read all labels and refuse to ingest that dangerous sugar substitute.
Dole made some in a box (!) with just sugar…now I can’t even get that. Guess I’ll have to make my own from some of your great recipes. Thank you!
Turned out great! Yum!
An interesting recipe!
this is an awesome alternative to homemade cranberry sauce.. I’m a cranberry addict 🙂
I always make my own cranberry sauce,usually with a hint of orange, but pear is good too:) I like roasted root veggies,, and my children love mashed potatoes, and apple sausage stuffing. I love the idea of butternut squash soup as a starter, and your cranberry sauce is much healthier than the one I usually make, so thanks a bunch for sharing!
Looks great! I will use maple syrup to keep it vegan! Yay! Thanks!
Can this recipe be canned in a hot water bath? I am thinking of doubling the recipe and gifting it.
I’ll let you know in a few days 🙂 After years of making two cranberry sauces, one with all the sugar and one with sugar substitutes plus some thickener for my diabetic cousin, this recipe passed all the hurdles for everyone, though some would like it sweeter next year. My cousin loved it as is, so I will be replacing this recipe for the prior I used for his Christmas present: twelve jars of cranberry sauce that he loves on toast a couple of times a week. I will add a spoonful of lemon juice to the top of each jar for a little insurance, may or may not be needed.
What can be used instead of applesauce? I’m allergic.
Try pear sauce instead – I often substitute pear sauce if I don’t have any applesauce ready. Don’t have any… dice up some pears (peel if you prefer it smoother) and place in a saucepan. Add a tablespoon or two of water and heat on top of the stove for about 30-45 minutes (all you are doing is letting the water content cook off until it is thicker). Keep your heat around med low (just so the sauce stays at a slow boil so the water can cook off). When the fruit and water has cooked down, turn it off and let it cool if you like fruit sauces with soft chunks. If you prefer it smooth, use a food processor, blender etc. and whirl it up until you lose all the chunks. You can make fruit sauce with almost any kind of fruit like this. It’s a great replacement too for store bought jams, jellies etc. As long as you are in the kitchen, place some on the stove and let it cook. I usually stir a couple of times just to make sure it doesn’t scorch on the bottom. If it’s sticking too much, your heat is too high.
The juice has sugar in it.
true story. So does the honey!
You can get pineapple juice canned in its own juice, no sugar.