This healthy cranberry orange sauce is a family favorite recipe that gets made every Thanksgiving and Christmas in my family. It is naturally sweetened with oranges, apples and a small amount of sugar. It also has small pieces of pecans to add a little extra crunch.
Reasons to Love This
- This lightened up cranberry sauce is low in sugar! Many traditional cranberry sauce recipes contain large amounts of sugar, however this is sweetened by adding oranges, an apple, spices and a small amount of sugar.
- This is a gluten free and dairy free cranberry sauce, which makes it allergy friendly. The nuts can be omitted if concerned about a nut allergy.
- This recipe puts a twist on normal cranberry sauce- adding the oranges and apple makes it more of a cranberry salad/sauce. It still tastes good on turkey, rolls or plain!
- There is hint of orange flavor from the cranberries, however it is not overpowering or dominant.
- Cranberries: use a 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries.
- Apple: I used a granny smith apple and it held up well after cooking and did not get mushy. You can use any brand of apple. Peel the apple and cut it into small pieces before adding it to the cranberries.
- Clementines: use 2 Clementines for extra flavor and texture. You can also substitute a whole orange. I prefer to use Clementines because I find they are easier to cut into small pieces and are are almost always sweet!
- Pecans: chopped pecans give this a nice crunch. You can also use chopped walnuts, or omit completely if you do not want nuts.
- Sugar: a small amount of granulated sugar and brown sugar are required to help balance the tartness of the cranberries.
- Spices: cinnamon and nutmeg: these add a rich, seasonal flavor to the cranberries. If you love the flavor of cinnamon and feel it needs more spice, add an extra teaspoon of cinnamon! You can always add extra after they have been cooked!
How To Make Cranberry Sauce
This healthy cranberry sauce can be made on the stove or in the slow cooker! I personally prefer the stove, because I can control the thickness of the sauce. If you are short on time, use the stove top method!
Prepare the apples and oranges. Peel the apple and chop into pieces, about ½ inch by ½ inch. Peel the Clementines and chop into pieces about ½ inch by ½ inch. Set aside.
Combine water and sugar in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, add the cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and chopped apples.
Return to a boil (this should take about 2 minutes) and then simmer on medium low heat until most of the cranberries have popped (about 5 minutes).
Once the cranberries have popped, add the clementine, brown sugar and walnuts. Cook for another 5 minutes. Note: this sauce has a lot of texture due to the apples and clementines. If you prefer a smoother sauce, cook the cranberries a little bit longer and gently mash with your spoon.
Add all ingredients to the crock pot. Mix well. Cook on low for 3 hours, stirring every hour. Remove the lid and cook for another 45 minutes. Serve warm, or refridgerate and serve chilled.
How To Serve Cranberry Sauce
- The cranberry sauce can be served plain as a side dish. Serve either warm or refridgerate for a few hours after cooking and serve cold.
- Serve on top of turkey, stuffing, or any other holiday dish.
- Mix a couple tablespoons of cranberry sauce with plain greek yogurt or plain oatmeal
- Toast a slice of bread and top with cranberry sauce
How to Store Leftover Cranberry Sauce
Refrigerator: store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Stir well before serving. If you are refrigerating this right after cooking, separate it into small containers and refrigerate to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria (More info on safe food storage here)
Freezer: the cranberry sauce can be frozen for up to 2 months. Place it in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Defrost the cranberries by allowing it to thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce vs. Store Bought Cranberry Sauce
This is considered a healthy cranberry sauce when compared to the store-bought version, because it contains less sugar and less calories.
While this does contain granulated and brown sugar, the amount used is much less than canned cranberry sauce or even your traditional cranberry sauce. If you are looking for a low sugar cranberry sauce that still tastes good, you’ve come to the right place!
- Canned cranberry sauce has 25 grams of sugar per ¼ cup serving. There is 1 g fiber and 110 calories.
- ¼ cup homemade healthy cranberry sauce has 67 calories and 12.1 grams of sugar
Cranberries have numerous health benefits. The small berry is packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Here are some nutritional highlights of cranberries:
- Cranberries are packed with fiber. A cup of raw cranberries contains 4.6 grams of fiber. (Source)
- Studies have found that cranberries may play a role in heart health. (Source)
- Cranberries are packed with flavonoids and phytochemicals. (Source)
More Holiday Dishes
Healthy Cranberry Orange Sauce
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 package fresh cranberries
- 1 medium apple grannie smith
- ½ tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons chopped pecans
- 2 clementines
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Peel the apple and chop into small cubes (about ½ inch by ½ inch). Set aside.
- Peel the clementines and chop into small cubes that are about ½ inch by ½ inch. Set aside.
- Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Set to medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Once boiling, add the cranberries, chopped apple, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Return the mixture to a boil (this should take about 2 minutes), then simmer on medium low for about 5 minutes, or until cranberries start to pop. Stir the mixture frequently to prevent it from burning.
- Add the walnuts, chopped clementine and brown sugar. Simmer on medium low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold.