This healthy cranberry sauce takes 15 minutes to make and is great to make ahead of time! It's bursting with fresh cranberries and orange juice and is naturally sweetened for a lower sugar side made for any fall menu.
Is homemade cranberry sauce healthy?
Traditionally, homemade cranberry sauce is made with about 1 cup of granulated sugar. By most people's standards, that wouldn't be considered "healthy" although I do think homemade is a better (less processed) option in general.
Today, I'm sharing a low sugar cranberry sauce option with you, naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup. It's full of fresh cranberries and oranges for a fresh, bold flavor.
What makes this healthy cranberry sauce so good
- Fast: It only takes 15 minutes on the stove!
- Easy: minimal, simple ingredients you can find at any grocery store
- Healthy: naturally sweetened with maple syrup (refined sugar free)
- Fresh cranberries: they're easy to find in the fall and always affordable!
- Pure maple syrup: you could also use honey or coconut sugar for a refined sugar free option.
- Oranges: we're using the fresh orange juice and the zest for optimal orange flavor! (juice and zest)
- Pure vanilla extract: This little secret ingredient adds more flavor and sweetness to the recipe. You could also add a little cinnamon too!
How to make healthy cranberry sauce
- Add cranberries, maple syrup, water and orange juice to a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Mix the ingredients together and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes, until the cranberry bursts and break down.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the orange zest and vanilla. Carefully taste the sauce and add additional sweetener or orange juice as desired. The longer it cools the thicker it will get.
If you don't think you're cranberry sauce is as thick as you want, allow to simmer for 5-8 minutes longer. The longer the liquid cooks off, the thicker it will be. Storing it in the fridge and allowing it to chill will also make it thicker.
The best way to serve cranberry sauce is cold or at room temperature. When you're serving it as a Thanksgiving side, I like it cold because it gives a nice contrast to the warm dishes on your plate.
Yes, you absolutely can make this recipe in advance, In fact, I find it's better on day 2 or 3! If you want to get ahead of the game for Thanksgiving, this is the first recipe that should be on your list.
What to do with leftover healthy cranberry sauce
- Swirl in overnight oats (instead berries)
- Scoop on top of banana baked oatmeal
- Put on top of leftover turkey sliders
- Top your yogurt with cranberry sauce and granola
- On a piece of sourdough toast
- On a vegan biscuit
- Spread onto cornbread muffins
- Swirled into healthy muffins
- Slow cooked with mini meatballs
- Served on a crostini with goat cheese
If you love this recipe as much as I do, don't forget to follow me on Instagram and tag me with @what_mollymade so I can see it and feature you.
More healthy Thanksgiving sides:
Healthy Cranberry Sauce
- 1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup water
- Juice from 1 large navel orange about ¼ cup
- Zest from 1 orange
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Add the whole cranberries, maple syrup, water and orange juice to a large saucepan. Mix quickly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook longer if you want the sauce to reduce and thicken more.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest and vanilla extract. Carefully taste the sauce and add additional sweetener or orange juice as desired. It’s supposed to be tart.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It will continue to thicken as it cools.