cranberry sauce in white bowl with clementines

This fresh cranberry sauce, made with orange juice, is lower in sugar than many other recipes to let the beautiful flavour of cranberries shine through! Just 3 core ingredients and SO easy to make. Enjoy on the holiday table, or on top of yogurt, oatmeal and chia puddings.

I love cranberries. I will actually pop frozen whole cranberries like candy. Yes, I know how tart they are but this dietitian eats those nuclear waste sour candies for kicks so it makes sense.

The holidays are prime cranberry season…but why not eat them all winter long? This fresh cranberry sauce, made with orange juice, is totally at home on the holiday table but also makes a great addition to so many other dishes, from oatmeal to overnight oats, or even spooned over a thick piece of sourdough toast. It is one of those plant-based recipes that people eat all the time, without realizing that it’s super good for you!

I’ve been making this cranberry sauce for years and I still can’t get enough of it. And if you’re looking for more delicious, nourishing plant-based recipes, pick up a copy of Good For Your Gut cookbook!

How to make fresh cranberry sauce

Making fresh cranberry sauce is so simple, you almost don’t need a recipe! With just 5 ingredients, and less than 30 minutes of cooking time, you’ll have fragrant, sweet-tart cranberry sauce that will make anything else you’re serving even more delicious.

  • Place fresh cranberries, orange juice, and a bit of sugar or maple syrup in a small pot. Add any additional flavours like cinnamon, vanilla or ginger, as desired.
  • Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring often, to help break down the cranberries. You’ll hear them pop!
  • Lower heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until the cranberries are mostly broken down and the mixture looks thicker.
  • Remove any full pieces of cinnamon or citrus peel, if using, taste and adjust sugar until it’s sweet enough for you!

Why cranberries are so dang good for you

Cranberries have a ton of nutrition benefits; first off, they’re very rich in anti-inflammatory compounds such as flavonols, anthocyanins and tannins, cranberries also contain proanthocyanidin compounds that help support urinary tract health.

At a time of year when fresh berries are a distant memory, cranberries sail in to boost your intake of this supportive phytochemicals as well as trace amounts of minerals like iron and of course, fibre. Cranberries contain pectin, a gut-soothing soluble fibre, which is the reason that cranberry sauce gels all on its own!

What to serve with this delicious fresh cranberry sauce

This cranberry sauce is the perfect accompaniment to all your favourite plant-based Thanksgiving or holiday recipes, but it’s also delicious served with:

  • hot oatmeal or overnight oats
  • chia pudding
  • on a graze board with vegan cheese, crackers and nuts
  • spooned onto a thick piece of sourdough toast
  • as a canapé: top whole grain crackers or thin slices of toasted baguette with a bit of vegan ricotta cheese and cranberry sauce.

Tips, Tricks and Substitutions

  • Yes, this cranberry sauce is low FODMAP! Just keep it to no more than 1/4 cup serving.
  • Love ginger? Grate a 1-inch (2.5cm) piece of peeled ginger into the pot before you cook.
  • This cranberry sauce doesn’t really taste like orange. Want to boost it? Add the zest of one orange.
  • Make Ahead: This cranberry sauce will keep well for a week or more in the fridge, so make a double batch if you want to have leftovers!
  • Because this recipe doesn’t contain a lot of sugar, the pectin won’t gel as tightly as a traditional sauce. To optimize gelling, don’t refrigerate the sauce until totally at room temperature!

cranberry sauce in white bowl with clementines

Fresh Cranberry Sauce Made with Orange Juice

This fresh cranberry sauce, made with orange juice, embraces the sweet-tart side of cranberries without too much sugar! SO easy to make, just 3 key ingredients
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  • 227 grams fresh or frozen cranberries (2 1/2 cups), if using 340g bag see note below!
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 – 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, sliding scale of tart to pleasantly sweet-tart
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil on medium for 5 minutes, stirring often, to help break down the cranberries.
  • Reduce temperature to medium low and maintain a simmer until sauce is thickened up, stirring occasionally, takes about 10-15 minutes.
  • Sauce will thicken further as it cools to a loose jam consistency. Remove cinnamon stick and serve room temperature or chilled.
  • Recipe makes about 1 ½ cups (375 mL). Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge.


I use my local organic cranberries for this sauce, which come in a 227g bag. However, Ocean Spray, which I know is most popular, comes in a 340g bag. There’s an easy fix if you want to use the whole bag!
Increase orange juice to 1 1/2 cups and adjust maple syrup to taste. DON’T add more cinnamon or vanilla. 
Low FODMAP?? You can enjoy a small serving of this fresh cranberry sauce on a low FODMAP diet!
1/2 cup of fresh cranberries and 1/3 glass of orange juice are low FODMAP servings. So, 1/4 cup (60 mL) of this cranberry sauce should be a low FODMAP serving.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Photo Credit: Melissa Quantz