There are two types of people in the world: those who like cranberry sauce and those who don't. I will go one step further and say that there is actually a third type of person: those who love cranberry sauce. <<That's the group I fall into.


What is Cranberry Sauce...Really?

Is it really a sauce? Or is it a relish? What do you call it?

All I know is I used to love the Jell-o-like slices of round cranberry slabs that came out of an Ocean Spray can when I was a kid. A true delicacy of the 80s Thanksgiving table.

It turns out that the kid-tested cranberry sauce of the 80s, and probably today, is a little different than my recipe.

A quick Google of what's in canned cranberry sauce reveals the following ingredients:

Canned Cranberry Sauce IngredientsWe're basically looking at cranberries, refined super sweet sugar, water and more refined sugar.

Come on! For a couple of bucks, we can do way better than that. If, after you make this recipe and you don't think it's better than canned cranberry sauce, you always have canned cranberry sauce to fall back on. But I really don't think you'll want to.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Ingredients

Ingredients cranberry sauce

This cranberry sauce recipe has exactly four ingredients. Four! It takes no more than 5 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to cook. All-in-all, it's very simple, but quite healthy. Here are the ingredients:


Organic Cranberries

I don't use conventional cranberries as this crop is greatly affected by pesticides that are probably carcinogens and hormone disrupters. This is one fruit I don't compromise on.

Because you can use either fresh or frozen cranberries for this recipe, I find that frozen varieties are always available and usually less expensive than their fresh counterpart.

Of course, if you're buying cranberries around the holidays, you'll probably find them everywhere and for a good price. Just make sure you're buying organic.

Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants. Because they're so healthy, they also come fully loaded with a lot of great benefits, including:

  • UTI Support: Suffering from a urinary tract infection (UTI) is no fun. But cranberries have been well documented in supporting their beneficial effects on getting rid of the bacteria that usually cause UTIs. This particular benefit is attributed to the nutrient, proanthocyanidins, which acts like a magnet for this type of bacteria and drags it right out of the body.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Support: When a food is as high in antioxidants are cranberries, it's highly likely it's an anti-inflammatory food as well. A few areas that benefit from the anti-inflammatory effects include the digestive system and joints.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Consuming cranberries or unsweetened cranberry juice has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.


Fresh Lemon

Fresh lemon is always a good idea, whether you're eating, drinking or smelling it. Lemons are always found in the world of aromatherapy as they're shown to improve our mood and simply make your day brighter.

On the nutrition side, lemon packs quite a punch, too.

Benefits of lemon include:

  • It's Alkalizing: Our blood has a pH that delicately sits somewhere between alkaline and acid (usually around 7.4). If we become too acidic or too alkaline, we can become very sick. Because so many of us eat fast foods, giant coffees, refined flours and processed oils more often than not, we're almost always risking the downswing of going too acid. Lemon, despite it's natural acidity, actually alkalizes our blood, helping us feel better.
  • Skin Support: If you want awesome-looking skin, you need vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C helps collagen, the infrastructure that keeps our skin toned and tight, do its job. Fortunately, lemons are an amazing source of vitamin C - so let's start squeezing! I should also mention that you're getting a double whammy of vitamin C with cranberries, too.
  • Detoxification: Lemons hep to get rid of toxins that can linger in your blood, helping you on a cellular level. I always recommend people wake up in the morning to a big glass of luke-warm water with lemon juice to get the toxins packed up and moved out.


Maple Syrup

Almost all recipe for cranberry sauce use some sort of white sugar. I really love the flavor of maple syrup and given all of it's benefits, I wanted to incorporate it. The flavor of maple doesn't pick up as much as the sweetness (balanced with tart) of the cranberries, so even if you're not a fan of maple syrup, you'll enjoy this recipe.

A few of the benefits of maple syrup include:

  • Antioxidant Protection: You'd probably never guess that maple syrup has two dozen types of antioxidants that help protect our body from getting rusty and old. Keep in mind, these antioxidants are only found in real maple syrup, not maple-flavored syrup. 
  • Lower on the GI: If you're following the glycemic index (GI) because you have to or you're simply trying to reduce sugar, then you'll be happy to know that maple syrup sits about 10 points lower on the GI that regular sugar.

Maple syrup is still really sweet! This recipe calls for about half as much sweetness as most of the others I took a look at. Still, it's important to know I'm not trying to sugar coat (ha!) the sweetness is maple syrup to try to make it out to be some magic eat-as-much-as-you-want sweetener. You still have to be responsible...but it's better than regular sugar.


The benefits of water're smart and amazing. You know all the benefits of water, right?

  • Better brain
  • Better skin
  • Better digestion

Drink lots of water!


Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe


Yields: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes


  • 12-ounce bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lemon


  1. Rinse cranberries, disposing of any that may be bad.
  2. Wash lemon thoroughly and slice in half. Pick out and discard of any seeds that are obvious.
  3. Add cranberries to a large saucepan.
  4. Add maple syrup and water to saucepan with cranberries.
  5. Squeeze the juice of the lemon either into a smaller glass, or through a strainer directly into the saucepan.
  6. Dispose of any remaining seeds.
  7. Add the entire lemon, without seeds, to the saucepan.
  8. Bring to a boil until all the cranberries have burst. This will be about 8 - 10 minutes.
  9. After all the cranberries have burst, reduce heat and cook until it's reached the desired consistency. The recipe will continue to reduce down to a jelly-like consistency after about 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat. Chill and store, or enjoy!



  • This is an easy recipe to prep a couple days ahead.
  • It's important to wash the lemon as citrus fruits harbor a lot of mold. You don't need any extra mold in your cranberry sauce, right?
  • Bursting cranberry juice can travel pretty far. Either cover with a screen, or keep little kids and faces away from the stovetop so no one is unnecessarily hit with bursting cranberry.


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