This homemade organic cranberry sauce recipe is made with whole cranberries, a little bit of sugar and fresh orange juice. With no fake sugar substitutes, it’s the best alternative to the canned stuff in grocery stores.
Thanksgiving is officially less than a month away – is it OK to talk about now?
Fun fact – If I were still living in Canada it would be too late to talk about. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the 2nd Monday in October.
Here in Florida we finally had our first few days of cooler temperatures last week. It dropped into the 50s and felt like fall for a few glorious days.
That treat is over for now, but Thanksgiving is coming regardless, so it’s a good time to share my healthy cranberry sauce recipe!
Cranberry sauce is so easy to whip up; I hope you’ll be inspired to never again buy the high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden jellied cranberry sauce in a can. Bleh… I know, I know, it’s a childhood tradition for me too, but here’s why you should never eat high fructose corn syrup.
My homemade cranberry sauce recipe is made with organic cranberries, less sugar and absolutely no artificial sweeteners!
When cooking or baking with sugar I always err on the side of as little as possible.
Some sugar is necessary in order for the sauce to thicken, and to cut some of the bite out of the tangy cranberries. But I think this cranberry sauce strikes a nice balance of not being overly tart or overly sweet.
Why Make Cranberry Sauce with Organic Cranberries
Cranberries are one of only 3 fruits that are native to North America, but less than 1% of the cranberries grown in the United States are organic.
Cranberries are one of the more difficult crops to maintain without the use of commercial pesticides and fungicides.
This is because cranberries grow close to the ground on horizontal vines in damp conditions that bugs and weeds adore. Battling these conditions organically is extra challenging!
This is all the more reason to support the organic cranberry farmers that are doing it.
A 2006 United States Department of Agriculture study found residue from 13 different pesticides on the non-organic cranberries they tested.
Another study found that bee colonies exposed to a popular fungicide used to treat cranberry bogs produced significantly less worker bees (less than a third). Those bee colonies were also smaller than the no-fungicide control group.
How common is it for bees to be exposed to pesticides? Another study found that 100% of the pollen collected by bees that were pollinating cranberry crops, contained pesticide residues. Twenty three different pesticides turned up.
A study found that 100% of the pollen collected by bees that were pollinating cranberry crops, contained pesticide residues.
If the bees are ingesting pesticides, we are ingesting pesticides.
Where to Buy Organic Cranberries
Some grocery stores, such as Publix, Kroger and Whole Foods, sell fresh organic cranberries from farms here in the United States.
You can also buy them direct from a cranberry farm online.
Buying cranberries online does require a bulk purchase, usually at least 5 pounds, but they freeze well. You can then thaw them throughout the year to make cranberry sauce, homemade juices, smoothies and other great recipes.
The following farms grow certified organic cranberries that you can use to make homemade cranberry sauce:
James Lake Farms – Wisconsin, I made my cranberry sauce with these
Fresh Meadow Cranberries – Massachusetts
Ruesch Century Farm – Wisconsin
Organic Cranberry Sauce Ingredients
This easy recipe uses just 5 simple ingredients.
- Organic cranberries (8 ounces fresh or thawed)
- White sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- Ground cinnamon (1/8 teaspoon)
- Pinch of salt
- Unsweetened orange juice (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
How to Make Organic Cranberry Sauce
Once you discover how easy it is to make cranberry sauce from scratch, you may never buy store-bought cranberry sauce again!
1. Combine the cranberries, white sugar, ground cinnamon, salt and orange juice in a medium saucepan or pot.
2. Stir gently and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
3. Once the ingredients start to simmer, cook about 15 minutes. Maintain a gentle simmer and stir often.
4. Remove from heat when most of the cranberries have popped and the mixture is thick.
The cranberry sauce will continue to thicken while it cools.
Once it comes to room temperature, pour it into a glass jar or airtight container and move it to your fridge. It will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks until you’re ready to use it.
When it’s serving time, spoon it into a serving dish and garnish with orange zest.
Leftover cranberry sauce freezes well in jars or freezer baggies.
5 Ways to Serve Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Homemade cranberry sauce is a classic accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner. While it pairs incredibly well with roast turkey, cranberry sauce isn’t just a side dish for your holiday table.
Here are 5 ways to use cranberry sauce:
- Serve on a cheese and charcuterie board
- Spread on toast as a jam
- Enjoy with some goat or cream cheese on crackers
- Use it as a topping for cheese cake
- As a spread for leftover turkey sandwiches
FAQ: Homemade Cranberry Sauce
When are fresh cranberries in season?
Cranberries are harvested between September and October and the window of opportunity to find fresh cranberries in the store or online is narrow. Outside of this time of year you’ll be lucky to find them in the frozen section. So be sure to stock up if you’d like to use them in your cooking year round.
Can I use frozen cranberries to make cranberry sauce?
Yes you can use frozen cranberries to make cranberry sauce, just be sure to fully thaw them first.
Is this homemade cranberry sauce tart or sweet?
Admittedly, my cranberry sauce recipe is more tart than the canned version you may be used to. That’s partly because the store-bought cranberry jelly is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, which is sweeter than sugar. It’s also because the store bought varieties use more sweetener.
Other homemade cranberry sauce recipes use nearly double the sugar that I do. Some sugar is necessary in order for the sauce to thicken and to cut some of the bite out of the tart cranberries. But, I veer on the side of less sugar in my cooking, and think this homemade cranberry sauce strikes a nice balance of not being overly tart or overly sweet.
If you prefer a sweeter cranberry sauce, feel free to use 1/2 or 2/3 cup of sugar. Also up the orange juice to a full half cup to keep the sauce from getting too thick.
Why isn’t my cranberry sauce thickening?
If your cranberry sauce isn’t thickening it’s because your recipe either used too little sugar or too much liquid. I’ve made this best cranberry sauce recipe many times and as long as I let it simmer long enough, it does thicken beautifully even though it uses a smaller amount of sugar. The natural pectin in the cranberries also helps it thicken more. And know that it will thicken as it cools. See the recipe card below for my recommended ratio of cranberries to sugar and liquid.
If you’re looking for more thanksgiving recipes check out my complete guide about how to host a farm-to-table thanksgiving dinner.
Organic Cranberry Sauce Recipe (Less Sugar + Orange)
- 8 oz organic cranberries fresh or thawed
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbs sugar
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbs orange juice no sugar added
- Rinse the cranberries under cold running water and remove any that have started to brown or go soft.
- Put the cranberries in a medium pot and add in the sugar, cinnamon, salt and orange juice.
- Stir gently and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Once the ingredients start to simmer, cook about 15 minutes, stirring often. Reduce the heat if needed to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Remove from heat when most of the cranberries have popped and the cranberry sauce is thick. This takes about 15 minutes of simmering.
- Let cool, then transfer to a glass jar and store in the fridge.
- This recipes yields enough for 6 people to have a large spoonful or two with their thanksgiving turkey. All quantities can be doubled or tripled if needed to serve a larger crowd.
- Be sure to use orange juice with no added sugar. I look for it in the single serve section of the grocery store. Or, you can put a large, peeled orange through a juicer.