Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

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Cranberry sauce is a slightly sweet, tart addition to the Thanksgiving dinner menu. This organic cranberry sauce recipe uses honey instead of refined sugar. Who needs processed sugar anyways?

If you’re on a mission to limit processed or toxic ingredients, this recipe is for you! It’s simple and full of healthy whole food ingredients.

white bowl with finished honey sweetened cranberry sauce with a black spoon at the side

What you’ll love about this recipe:

  • HOLIDAY FAVORITE – We just love this slightly sweet & tart cranberry dish paired with our turkey dinner. It is such a great natural option compared with the alternative recipes out there.
  • HEALTHY – Nothing processed, this recipe uses only whole real food ingredients!

Growing up, my family served the canned cranberry sauce. They even kept in in its jelled up form and sliced it along the ridges. Seriously.

When I got married and began cooking for my growing little family, I wanted to create healthier alternatives to the “traditional” American versions we grew up with.

So this version uses fresh cranberries, fresh oranges, and natural sweeteners & spices to give it delicious flavor. With no added junk!

close up image of naturally sweetened cranberries in a white bowl with orange zest on top


This naturally sweetened cranberry sauce recipe does not use anything complicated. In fact, you may just have many of these in your home right now! I just love creating recipes that use pantry staples.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • fresh cranberries
  • raw honey
  • natural apple juice
  • cinnamon
  • orange zest
ingredients shot of fresh cranberries, orange zest, cinnamon, apple juice, and raw honey in bowls


This holiday staple tastes so great paired with the rich flavors of a traditional turkey (or ham) dinner. It also pairs with pork, chicken, and some cuts of beef.

So whatever meat is on your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any festive meal, it works really well!

Zest the skin of one large orange until you have 1 teaspoon and set aside.

To a medium saucepan or pot, combine the fresh cranberries, honey, cinnamon, and apple juice. Stir well.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat. Keep at a simmer for 5-10 minutes or until most berries pop. Be sure to stir occasionally.

Remove from heat and add the orange zest to the cranberry mixture. Allow to cool completely and move to an airtight container in the fridge until ready to enjoy. Serve chilled.

adding the cranberries, honey, apple juice, and cinnamon to the sauce pan with a spatula stirring the ingredients
cooked cranberry sauce in a sauce pan with a spatula
white serving bowl of healthy honey sweetened cranberry sauce with a black spoon
orange zest on top of cranberry sauce

Tips for storing this recipe:

This is a great make ahead recipe for your holiday table. I love to keep things simple while making holiday recipes. So some prep work ahead is so helpful!

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator. Store in a glass airtight container for up to one week.

FAQ (frequently asked questions)

Can this recipe be made vegan friendly?

Definitely! Just replace the honey with maple syrup in this recipe to make it vegan.

What can I do with leftover cranberry sauce?

Of course, one of our favorite uses are to pair with leftover turkey for sandwiches or sliders. Another favorite is to pair with roasted pork loin. For something extra creative, pair it with homemade yogurt, this maple overnight oatmeal, or in a morning smoothie.

Are cranberries supposed to taste bitter?

Cranberries are very tart and bitter on their own. This is why many cranberry recipes incorporate a lot of sugar. In this recipe, I’ve eliminated processed sugar to naturally sweeten it with real honey. It will still be a bit tart, but it’s supposed to have a sharp and tart flavor.

want more recipes?

Check out the recipe index where you can discover more homemade recipes from my homestead!

white bowl of healthy cranberry sauce with a white and grey striped tea towel at the side

Honey Sweetened Cranberry Sauce Recipe

This naturally sweetened cranberry sauce is a tasty, healthy alternative to traditional cranberry sauce. It tastes just as good as the original, without the added sugar.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Author Mary Woita
Servings 6
Calories: 127kcal



  • Combine cranberries, apple juice, honey, and cinnamon in a sauce pan or pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes or until most of the cranberries pop. Be sure to stir occasionally.
  • Remove from heat, stir in grated orange rind. Cool to room temperature and then move to airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Enjoy chilled with your favorite holiday recipes.


Replace the honey with maple syrup for a vegan alternative. 
The sauce will thicken as it cools. This recipe will be tart, so if you’d like it a bit more sweet, add a little more honey or maple syrup to taste. 

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