Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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This Homemade Cranberry Sauce is naturally sweetened with honey and classically flavoured with orange. Perfect for turkey dinners, cheese boards, and topping oatmeal and yogurt!

Tangy homemade cranberry sauce in a jar with orange zest and a blue napkin in the background.

So my plan was to get this Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe to you before Canadian Thanksgiving, but alas, time was just not my friend. However, you are getting it before Christmas, so I’m counting it as a win!

To be honest, I forgot how manic the last four months of the year are for food bloggers. There are so many holidays! Labour Day weekend, two Thanksgivings, Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s… the list goes on. Not to mention both mine and Chris’ birthdays and our anniversary are in the last quarter of the year too.

It’s so crazy around here, but I love it!

an orange, bowl of honey, bowl of cranberries, and vanilla extract on a marble background.

Let’s talk about this Homemade Cranberry Sauce though. I took a little poll on my Instagram a while back and asked whether you ate cranberry sauce with your turkey dinner, and surprisingly, mostly everyone said that it’s present on their table even if they don’t personally eat it. So I took that as a sign that I should hook you up with a refined sugar free version for your holiday spreads!

I went super classic with the flavours this time around. (I know, how unlike me.) But trust me when I say that sometimes classic is pretty damn good.

This Homemade Cranberry Sauce is infused with orange zest and juice and naturally sweetened with honey – just enough to calm the zing at the back of your jaw. It pairs incredibly well with turkey, chicken, and pork, but would also be at home on any cheese board or charcuterie spread you happen to pull together. It’s the perfect staple to have on hand this holiday season!

frozen cranberries in a saucepan with orange zest and honey.

How to make cranberry sauce

Making this Homemade Cranberry Sauce is so easy that I feel a bit silly calling this a recipe:

  1. Add the ingredients to a saucepan and place over a medium heat.
  2. Bring to a simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Mash the berries with a fork.
  4. Decant into a heatproof jar and let cool completely.

That’s it! If you want to see this recipe made in action, you can watch the tutorial video here!

If you ever thought you didn’t have time to make cranberry sauce for your holiday feast, think again. This sauce literally takes about 10 minutes to make. It’s also a much smarter alternative than the tinned stuff. You know, the kind that comes out of the can and still looks like the can?

This recipe for Homemade Cranberry Sauce also has one-fourth the amount of sugar that the tinned stuff has.

And it doesn’t look funny.

How to thicken homemade cranberry sauce

The easiest way to thicken cranberry sauce is simply to let it cool!

Cranberries have a very high pectin content, which causes the sauce to “gel”. When the berries are combined with the heat, natural sugar in the honey, and the acid in the orange juice, the pectin is activated. As the sauce cools, it naturally becomes thicker.

Science is cool, right?

Top down shot of bubbling cranberries in a pot with a wooden spoon and blue linen.

How to make cranberry sauce less tart or sweeter

This sauce is what dreams are made of (in my world at least). I love a tart condiment. Mustard, pickles, chutneys, you name it, I am all over it!

That being said, my tolerance for sour is probably a bit higher than most, so here are a few tips for making this Homemade Cranberry Sauce to your liking:

  • If the sauce is too sour, add more sweetener. I’ve tested this recipe with up to 90ml of honey without any problems. If you find the recipe as written is a bit too tart, keep adding honey 1 tablespoon of honey until you reach your desired sweetness.
  • If the sauce is too sweet, decrease the sweetener or add a dash of vinegar. Go ahead and decrease the amount of honey, or leave it out altogether if you have a superhuman tolerance for sour! However if you do, I would recommend doubling the amount of orange juice. If you’ve added too much honey by accident (it happens!), you can bring back some of the tang by adding white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Or chuck in more cranberries!

I would love to see you make this refined sugar free Homemade Cranberry Sauce at some point this holiday season and let me know what you think! And, if you have some leftover, you can always freeze the sauce in an ice cube tray and then bag it up for portion-sized sauce later.

Or just eat it on top of oatmeal, yogurt, or ice cream – my preferred leftovers method!

This refined sugar free homemade cranberry sauce is naturally sweetened with honey and orange juice. Super tangy and easy to make – takes about 10 minutes! Perfect for Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas cheese boards!

Looking for more refined sugar free Thanksgiving recipes?

If you make this recipe, let me know by snapping a picture and tagging me on Instagram @naturallysweet_kitchen. I love seeing your creations and sharing them in my Stories. Or let me know you love this Homemade Cranberry Sauce by leaving a comment and rating below!

zesty and tangy naturally sweetened cranberry sauce in a jar with an orange in the background
5 from 3 votes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Refined sugar free homemade cranberry sauce naturally sweetened with honey and orange juice. Perfect with turkey, cheese boards, and as an oatmeal topping!

Category Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword homemade cranberry sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Serves 8 (1 x 385ml jar)
Author Amanda | Naturally Sweet Kitchen


  • 200 g frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 60 ml unpasteurised honey
  • 60 ml fresh orange juice
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. Add the cranberries, honey, orange juice and zest to a small saucepan and place over a medium-high heat.
  2. Allow the mixture to come to boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries begin to fall apart, around 5-8 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Mix and mash the berries with a wooden spoon until thickened.
  4. Decant the sauce into a heat proof jar and leave to cool completely at room temperature. It will thicken more as it cools. Keep sealed and stored in the fridge until ready to use.


  • Taste the sauce as you go. I like a tart cranberry sauce, but if you like it more on the sweet side, you can add up to 90ml of honey without compromising the end texture. After the 60ml, add more honey 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired sweetness.
  • To make this recipe vegan, substitute agave or date syrup for the honey.
  • This cranberry sauce will keep sealed in a lidded glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.

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  1. I tried this instead of the regular recipe that I usually had been using and I am a total convert. This is so fresh, a little tart and absolutely a must have. Such a great recipe and the orange sure adds a lovely flavour.
    Great recipe!

  2. I made a batch of this up and took your advice to try it on yogurt. It sure is tasty and added some snap to my breakfast. Easy, fast and healthy. Hits all the must haves. Thanks

  3. This has now become my go to recipe for Cranberry Sauce. It is so tasty, with just the right amount of tangy sweetness. So this year Thanksgiving it is going to be the condiment of choice on my dinner table.

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