Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

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Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce combines fresh cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice, and vanilla. This simple, four-ingredient sauce should be an addition to your holiday table for sure!

Are y’all ready for the biggest meal of the year? Whoop! Then get ready to make all the things, like Make Ahead Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble, and a Fall Harvest Salad with Balsamic Dressing. Let’s EAT!

Overhead view of a bowl of cranberry sauce with orange zest.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Let’s take a poll. Are you in the cranberry sauce camp or nah? I’m in the let’s try it camp. You only live once, and we all need to eat all the things.

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Since Thanksgiving is a pretty heavy eating holiday, it’s nice to have lighter options. THIS cranberry sauce is it. No refined sugars added, and it goes great with a plate full of food. Mix a little in with your potatoes, add a smear to your dinner roll, and then take bites in between.

Healthy? At Thanksgiving? Normally, I just go all in. I basically eat what I want on this day. But when it’s easy to make something light, I do it, especially when it involves using less sugar. Next time you go to the grocery store, look at the label on canned cranberries and then decide if it’s worth it.

Buy those fresh cranberries and make THIS recipe!

Side view of some naturally sweetened cranberries.

How to make Easy Cranberry Sauce:

Step 1
Gather ingredients. Gather your four simple ingredients – the cranberries, orange juice, pure maple syrup, and vanilla.

Step 2
Combine in a sauce pan. Wash cranberries and add to pan. Then add in the orange juice and pure maple syrup. Don’t add vanilla just yet.

Step 3
Cook. Cook cranberries over medium heat. You’ll hear the berries pop as they start to open up. Just keep stirring and cooking until they turn into a sauce, about 15-20 minutes or so.

Step 4
Cool. Remove cranberry sauce, and add the vanilla. Stir well, and transfer to a serving bowl. Cool at room temperature for awhile and then place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

Step 5
Serve. Serve cranberries with some orange zest, if desired.

Don’t know what to do with leftovers? Make these Puff Pastry Cranberry Brie Bites!

Why This Recipe Works:

  • You can make it ahead. Definitely prep ahead and make this sauce a day or two before your big event. It will be fined stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator until it’s go time.
  • It is simple. This sauce is just four ingredients, plus some orange zest for garnish (optional of course). It’s also ready in 15-20 minutes!
  • This traditional side is delicious. If you like anything cranberry, then you’ll enjoy cranberry sauce. Homemade is best, so just make it!
  • No refined sugar. Yup, this recipe uses no refined sugar. Just pure maple syrup is used to sweeten those tart cranberries!

Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, a big salad, homemade bread, cranberries, and all the desserts! Let’s gooooo!! 😀

Closeup on some cranberry sauce with a spoon.

xoxo ~Sue

Naturally sweetened cranberry sauce in a bowl with a spoon.

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce combines fresh cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice, and vanilla. This simple, four-ingredient sauce should be an addition to your holiday table for sure!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 56kcal
Author: Sue Ringsdorf


  • 12 oz. cranberries – washed
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • orange zest – for garnishI


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, maple syrup, and orange juice. Turn heat to medium-high and bring sauce to boil.
  • When sauce starts to boil, turn heat down to a simmer. and stir occasionally. Cook for 20 minutes or so, or until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens.
  • Take sauce off the heat and add vanilla. Stir and taste. Add more sweetener as needed.
  • Let the cranberry sauce cool and then transfer to a dish to chill in the refrigerator. Serve cold.


This homemade cranberry sauce can be made a day or two in advance of your big dinner!


Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 76mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 38IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @Suebeehomemaker or tag #suebeehomemaker!


  1. I love the Natural sugar . I use maple syrup for a lot of recipes in baking. I will be using this recipe for Thanksgiving day with family. Thank you for this recipe too.

  2. Good question. Would be nice to know.

  3. This is a delicious to any special meal and so simple to make. I love that it is naturally sweetened with the maple syrup and still a bit tart.

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed these, Shari!

  4. how much pectin would I add to thicken the sauce after straining out the pieces, some here don’t like those, want the jellied type they’re used to.

  5. A simple add to the main spread with only 4 ingredients and a pop of color.

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