I had never experienced homemade cranberry sauce until a few years ago. The only cranberry sauce that sat on our non-traditional Thanksgiving table was the jellied overly sweet canned version from Ocean Spray. Truthfully, that cranberry sauce was only there because Mom loved it.
A few years ago she started experimenting with a healthier version made with orange juice and maple syrup. I was hesitant at first, but Mom encouraged me to try a little of her beautiful maroon cranberries. I scooped the orange cranberry sauce onto a baked sweet potato with a little roasted turkey breast on the side. Two bites in, and I was in LOVE! The cranberries weren’t overly sweet, they were a little tart, but oh so perfect in every way.
For the next week, I enjoyed the leftover homemade healthy cranberry sauce in smoothies, on butternut squash patties, on top of my sweet potato pancakes, on my yogurt and on cottage cheese. I’m telling you, the options are endless.
What’s in this healthy cranberry sauce?
This homemade, healthy cranberry orange sauce is made with only 5 ingredients:
- fresh or frozen cranberries
- naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup or honey
- fresh orange juice
- vanilla extract
- optional but recommended: a splash of bourbon, brandy, amaretto or scotch whiskey
How do you make healthy orange cranberry sauce?
Homemade cranberry sauce recipe only takes 15 minutes to make and is ridiculously easy to make. Here’s how to do it:
- Add cranberries, orange juice, pure maple syrup (or honey), vanilla and whiskey, if using, to a small pot.
- Place pot over medium high heat and bring mixture to a boil.
- Once boiling, cover with a lid, reduce heat to low and allow cranberries to simmer for 10-15 minutes. You may notice a popping sound, which simply means the cranberries are bursting and getting nice and juicy.
- After 10 minutes, remove the lid, and stir. The cranberry sauce may need a few more minutes to simmer in order for the sauce to thicken.
- Transfer to a bowl and garnish with orange zest! Enjoy.
How to make cranberry sauce ahead of time
You can make this healthy cranberry sauce ahead of time and serve later. Simply cook as instructed in the recipe, then allow to cool completely, place in an airtight container and serve when ready. I prefer to serve my cranberry sauce but you can also feel free to heat it up over low heat in a small pot on the stove. This orange cranberry sauce recipe can be made up to 3 days in advance.
See how to make the healthy cranberry sauce:
If you make anything from AK, be sure to tag #ambitiouskitchen on Instagram. I love seeing your creations and featuring followers!
P.S. Don’t forget to check out all of our other delicious Thanksgiving recipes here!
15-Minute Homemade Orange Cranberry Sauce (naturally sweetened!)
Healthy orange cranberry sauce made with fresh orange juice, naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup or honey, and bursting with cranberries. Delicious, tangy and a MUST at your Thanksgiving table!
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon whiskey, bourbon, brandy or scotch (optional)
- zest from 1 orange
Add cranberries, orange juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract and bourbon in a small pot and place over medium high heat.
Once mixture begins to boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce becomes nice and thick, coating the back of a spoon. You may notice a popping sound; this is the cranberries bursting so don't worry.
After 10 minutes I recommend removing the lid and allowing cranberries to simmer a few minutes to thicken the sauce up. If you are using frozen cranberries, this may take a bit longer.
Once the sauce is thick, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Refrigerate until ready to serve, then garnish with orange zest. Serves 6 (about 1/4 cup each). Feel free to double the recipe!
If you use frozen cranberries, you may need to remove the lid in the last 5 minutes of cooking to give the sauce time to really thicken up.
How to make cranberry sauce ahead of time: Simply cook as instructed in the recipe, then allow to cool completely, place in an airtight container and serve when ready. I prefer to serve my cranberry sauce but you can also feel free to heat it up over low heat in a small pot on the stove. This orange cranberry sauce recipe can be made up to 3 days in advance.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats