Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce

Growing up, all I knew of cranberry sauce was the jellied variety in the can. Cranberry jelly accompanied all our holiday meals at Thanksgiving as well as Christmas through the years and was a holiday table staple. Once I started to pay more attention to the ingredients I was consuming, I was shocked to realize it was basically sugar and more sugar.

This year, I wanted to make a homemade version I would feel good about eating. I also aimed to create a recipe that embraces the tartness of the cranberry while using fruit juices and natural sweeteners to highlight the berry itself.

I prefer my cranberry sauce with smashed whole berries for texture purposes and so I know I am consuming the real deal! If you like nuts in your cranberry sauce, chopped pecans or walnuts would be lovely additions to this homemade condiment.

Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce

2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (I bet you could use frozen too)
4-6 Tbsp coconut palm sugar, honey, agave OR 9-11 medjool dates OR a combo (adjust sweetness to taste if too tart)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup orange juice (can be subbed with apple juice if desired)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, optional (ginger or other sweet spice would be great too for a different variation)

For a stronger orange flavor, add a teaspoon or orange zest
For a different flavor, add 1 or 2 diced apples to cook alongside the berries
For a chutney, add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans after cooking


1. In a medium saucepan, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to bring to a simmer  on medium-low and let cook for about 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Halfway through cooking (5-6 minutes) use a fork or a spoon to mash berries and release more of their juices. Let cook for another 5 minutes, occassionally stirring and mashing until thick. (sauce will thicken more as it cools)
3. Serve immediately warm or refrigerate until ready to serve for a chilled sauce. Heat on low to reheat if preferred warm and enjoy!

*If using dates for your sweetener, soak them until soft and puree them along with the orange juice before cooking.

Serve this cranberry sauce over stuffing, roasted meat or even a veggie burger (recipe to come)!


10 thoughts on “Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce

  1. Seriously? SERIOUSLY???? You cannot leave me to wait for a veggie burger recipe–now that is just completely unfair! That is my holy grail, right there. Until then, I will just have to drool over this cranberry sauce while I wait…oh so patiently…patiently waiting…still here, waiting… okay, I’m leaving 🙂

  2. Oh, how I love cranberry sauce. Well, I love cranberries period, as in fresh, right out of the bag. They are so crunchy and tart! I wish they were in season all year round! I’ll definitely have to try honey and orange juice as a sweetener this year.

    Seriously, I can’t believe that people still buy the canned stuff. Can you think of anything that’s easier to make? Especially if one is going to be making the unhealthy version that calls for cranberries, sugar and water. Even at that, it’s a much better option than the canned stuff!

    • I have eaten several straight from the bag but then I get bored 🙂 they just call my name to cook or bake with them! I love the crunch though, what a fun this berry!
      Totally agree, SOOOOO easy to make – I don’t have excuses to make my own, especially when I can make it ahead of time. Some people really prefer the canned stuff, it’s funny how different peoples’ taste buds are 🙂

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