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Healthy Cranberry Sauce with Cider & Vanilla (Keto option)

This healthy cranberry sauce recipe is quick, easy, and and eons better than canned cranberry sauce! I included all of my favorite wassail flavors — apple cider, orange, cinnamon & vanilla. It’s a beautiful and colorful addition to any Thanksgiving table!

Finished healthy cranberry sauce in a serving bowl.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but I never liked cranberry sauce until I tried a homemade version. My family wasn’t really into cranberry sauce anyway, so I dodged the jellied cranberry sauce from the can.

If you’re one of those who truly prefers the canned cranberry sauce, you keep on keeping on.

Wassail-inspired flavors blend so well with these tart whole cranberries and this sauce is so swoon-worthy. I love how it thickens up on its own, too.

This takes literally 5 minutes to throw into a saucepan — unless you have some technical difficulties using a vegetable peeler. Then gently boil over medium for a few minutes

homemade cranberry sauce ingredients -- fresh, whole cranberries, orange, cinnamon stick, cider, maple syrup, vanilla bean paste.

Low Sugar Cranberry Sauce

Why is it “healthy”? Because I didn’t use any refined sugar. I almost called this sugar-free cranberry sauce, but technically it’s refined sugar free cranberry sauce and I didn’t want to explain myself in the comments I’d get. Ha.

It’s also naturally dairy free and gluten free, but I imagine most, if not all, cranberry sauce recipes are.

Ingredients for Healthy Cranberry Sauce

For this naturally sweetened cranberry sauce, you’ll need just a few things:

  • Fresh Cranberries or Frozen Cranberries
  • Apple Cider
  • Orange Zest
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Vanilla extract, vanilla paste, or a vanilla bean

Why Apple Cider?

Apple cider might be an ingredient you don’t see often in cranberry recipes. Usually if there’s some kind of juice, it’s fresh orange juice. That would be lovely, too, but I loved cider here.

The cider or orange juice helps to sweeten the sauce without needing extra sweetener, too.

Adding maple syrup to a saucepan along with cranberries, cinnamon stick, and orange peel.

Natural Sweetener Suggestions

I used honey to sweeten my homemade cranberry sauce, but feel free to swap out honey for one of these other sweeteners to keep this cranberry sauce refined sugar free.

  • Maple Syrup
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Date Paste
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Maple Sugar

How to make keto cranberry sauce?

If you’re wanting this to be keto friendly and/or low carb, replace the cider with water and use one of these low-carb sweeteners.

The measurements may vary depending on the type of sweetener you use, so just add a little at a time, tasting as you go, until you get it as sweet as you prefer.

  • Stevia
  • Erythritol-based sweeteners
  • Monkfruit sweetener
Adding vanilla bean paste to the saucepan.

Why Vanilla?

Because vanilla is the best. Ha.

It adds another layer of warmth and flavor. It’s delicious.

If you’re feeling fancy, you can split a vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and put everything in there while it simmers.

Or you can use Vanilla Bean Paste (Trader Joe’s has a great, affordable one during the holidays!) or a splash of vanilla extract at the end.

How to store cranberry sauce

Store it in an airtight container, chilled, for a couple of weeks. It lasts a long time, so you can make this earlier in November to relief some stress of Thanksgiving week.

It also freezes well! Transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze for a really long time. Haha. I had some frozen for an entire year and it was just as delicious as when I made it.

Simmering cranberry sauce -- berries are beginning to break down and get saucy.

What to do with leftover cranberry sauce?

Ohhh. Lots of things.

Aside from eating it along with your other Thanksgiving leftovers, you could use it like jam on your toast, pancakes, and waffles for the next couple of weeks.

If you’re wanting to bake with it, add a spoonful to your favorite basic muffin recipe in place of blueberries or other fruit.

Paleo Cranberry Orange Bars

Or try my Paleo Cranberry Orange Bars!

Finished healthy cranberry sauce in a serving bowl next to a bowl fresh cranberries.

If you make this recipe, be sure to post it to social media and tag me at @perrysplate or #perrysplate so I can send you some love!

Healthy Cranberry Sauce with Cider & Vanilla

Healthy Cranberry Sauce with Cider & Vanilla

Yield: Makes about 1.5 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This healthy cranberry sauce recipe is quick, easy, and and eons better than canned cranberry sauce! I included all of my favorite wassail flavors -- apple cider, orange, cinnamon & vanilla. It's a beautiful and colorful addition to any Thanksgiving table!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces of fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 orange
  • 6 Tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla bean

Instructions

  1. Place the cranberries and cider in a small sauce pan and turn the burner on to medium heat.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off 2-3 large strips of the orange zest and put the strips into the saucepan. Cut the orange in half and squeeze half of the juice into the pan, too, about 1/4 cup.
  3. If you're using a vanilla bean, use a sharp knife to cut open the vanilla bean lengthwise, then use the back of the knife (the blunt edge) to scrape out the black seeds. Put the seeds and the pod into the pan along with the maple syrup. Otherwise, add the vanilla bean paste now.
  4. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the cranberries have cooked down and become saucy and thick and the flavors have incorporated throughout the sauce. Smash any whole berries toward the end of simmering.
  5. Taste, and add a little more sweetener if you think it needs it. Add vanilla extract now, if you're using it.
  6. Remove from the heat and let it cool before transferring it to a lidded container. Chill until ready to use.

Notes

  1. See recipe post for sweetener suggestions. You can use any sweetener you like here.
  2. To make this a keto cranberry sauce or low carb friendly, replace the cider with water and use your favorite low-carb sweetener. The measurement may vary depending on the type, so just add a little at a time, tasting as you go along, until you reach your desired sweetness.
Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 2 Tablespoons
Amount Per Serving Calories 57Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 2mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 1gSugar 11gProtein 0g

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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