With only maple syrup and orange juice for sweeteners - and just 10 minutes to make - this maple sweetened orange cranberry sauce recipe is healthier AND better tasting than canned.
When I was growing up there was only one kind of cranberry sauce at the holidays - the kind that is served in the shape of a can.
I didn't even know there was a sauce with actual cranberries in it, or that it could easily be made at home.
Now there are a lot of other processed foods that have many more questionable ingredients than canned cranberry sauce, so I'm not saying it's evil or anything - just one of the many foods that I always assumed had to be bought at a store rather than made at home, just like mayonnaise, salad dressings, chocolate syrup and other "pantry basics" I've discovered.
And just like those other basic foods, I've found that not only is cranberry sauce incredibly easy to make at home (in about 10 minutes!), it's also much fresher tasting.
It's even possible to strain it and make a jellied sauce, if that's your thing (here's a full-on version made in a tin can to replicate that canned sauce!), or process it longer with a blender to make it more smooth.
But once I tried pieces of real cranberries in my sauce, there was no going back for me though I do make sure all the berries are popped when cooking and I use an immersion blender to make it semi-smooth, but keep some texture.
I feel like a broken record, but this is one of the reasons I love cooking from scratch so much - you can adapt recipes to fit your family's preferences AND it's healthier. #winwin
Maple Sweetened Orange Cranberry Sauce Recipe
The one thing that I've gotten rid of from those first years of making homemade cranberry sauce using the package directions is the heaps of refined sugar.
There are only four ingredients you will need:
- Fresh cranberries
- Orange juice
- Fresh orange (for the zest)
- Maple syrup
The sweetness is provided naturally through the orange juice and the added maple syrup.
It's another case where we found all the original sugar just wasn't needed, similar to ketchup and granola.
Simply add all the ingredients to a pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.
Yep, that's it.
You can use the back of a spoon to mash it a bit more or do what I do and use an immersion hand-held blender right in the pot to the consistency you like.
Once you taste it, you will understand how the orange and maple bring out the flavor of the tart cranberries!
There are very subtle hints of maple with a large dose of citrusy goodness - WAY better than the water-sugar variation I started with.
And not even in the same universe as the canned stuff.
Maple Sweetened Orange Cranberry Sauce FAQs
Maple sweetened orange cranberry sauce can be made days or even a week in advance of your holiday meal, taking only minutes of your time to prepare.
Cranberries are very good for you, full of vitamins (especially C & E), minerals, and antioxidants to fight heart disease and cancer.
The problem with traditional cranberry sauce is that it's loaded with sugar - even homemade recipes on the packages call for 1 or more cups of sugar for 1 pound of cranberries.
That's why this recipe allows you to get all the health benefits of cranberries (and the added orange - more vitamin C) without all the added sugar.
Turkey at Thanksgiving, of course! It's also a great spread for leftover turkey sandwiches. And chicken, too, since it's similar to turkey.
With leftover sauce, you can make SO many good things like breads, muffins, waffle and pancake toppings, and more (see the ideas for leftovers below).
Either way! It's safe to take the sauce out of the fridge (assuming you've made it in advance) to warm to room temperature before serving with the hot meats, but if you don't remember, just serve it cold.
Cranberry sauce is cooked and cranberry relish is made with raw ingredients that are just blended together in food processor.
If you have leftover sauce - and I'm sure you will, since it's used mainly as a condiment - it is good in SO many things:
- Thinned with more maple syrup as a sauce for ice cream and pancakes.
- As a spread for turkey or chicken sandwiches - add cheese and grill it, yum.
- In sweet bread as a filling like these cranberry-crumb loaves/muffins. In fact, here's a whole list of different breads you can make with cranberry sauce.
- As a filling for any jam-crumb bar (like this recipe instead of the apple butter) or jam thumb-print cookies.
"I think I found this recipe in 2015. It was love at first read & taste! I love the fact that it uses maple syrup instead of white sugar. I always get rave reviews!"
Maple Sweetened Orange Cranberry Sauce
- 1 12 ounce bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup unsweetened orange juice
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup*
- zest from 1 orange, about 1 tablespoon
- Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat to maintain a very soft boil and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The berries will start to pop and the sauce thicken. Mash as desired while stirring (if you'd like a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender before storing the sauce and it will gel a bit like canned jellied sauce).
- Transfer sauce to a lidded container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week before serving (the sauce thickens even more as it cools). Serve either cold or at room temperature.
More Cranberry Recipes
12 Bread Recipes Using Cranberry Sauce
17 Fabulous Cranberry Bread Recipes (including yeast, gluten free & paleo options)
I think I found this recipe in 2015. It was love at first read & taste! I love the fact that it uses maple syrup instead of white sugar. I always get rave reviews! Sometimes I add cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Delicious! Thank you for sharing it!
You photos are beautiful! Thanks for all your wonderful healthy recipes!!
We make homemade cranberries with 15 satsumas added to a bag of cranberries. Add less sugar but need to try your way. We are making a big batch today (X 5) and putting jars in the freezer just because we have ALOT of satsumas lying around! It freezes beautifully! Happy Thanksgiving!
Wow, that's a lot of satsumas, but I bet it's good. 🙂 Have a great holiday to you, too, Karen!