This low sugar cranberry sauce is sweetened with oranges and apples. It's a family favorite recipe that is perfect for your next Thanksgiving or Christmas meal!
My family has always had fresh cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving meals. We've used this recipe for years, and have tweaked it over time to make the best low sugar cranberry sauce out there.
This recipe was initially developed as a low sugar alternative to the canned cranberry sauce. It has a slightly sour flavor from the cranberries, and it naturally sweetened from oranges and apples. It has a small amount of sugar which can be subbed with any type of sweetener.
This would pair perfectly with these delicious gluten free scalloped potatoes or this healthy butternut squash casserole! I also love serving it with a side of baked sweet potato slices with brown sugar!
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. Sub with a sweetener or maple syrup if desired.
- 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 fruit. 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.
- The cranberry sauce can be served plain as a side dish. Serve either warm or refrigerate 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
- Serve warm on top of a baked orange for an extra fruity dessert.
- Mix it in with your oatmeal, such as this turmeric oatmeal.
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.
Want to lower the sugar content even more? No problem. Here's some recommendations on how to do so:
- Use a sweetener: replace the granulated sugar with Stevia! Start with ¼ teaspoon and add more as needed.
- Maple Syrup: add ¼ cup maple syrup in place of granulated sugar.
- Honey: add ¼ cup of honey instead of using granulated sugar.
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
Low Sugar Cranberry 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.