The Foodie Dietitian Blog

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

This delicious naturally sweetened cranberry sauce has 75% less added sugar than most recipes and is sweetened using natural ingredients like applesauce and orange juice. 

This delicious naturally sweetened cranberry sauce has 75% less added sugar than most recipes and is sweetened using natural ingredients like applesauce and orange juice. | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

Ok, guys. Let’s buckle up. It’s game time.

What’s your game plan? Your lineup?

No, no, no. Not that game. It’s time to get your plan in order for Thanksgiving!

Don’t fret. If you’re in a pickle about what to serve up, I’ll be coming at you with Thanksgiving recipes over the next couple weeks…right up until…game day!

One of my favorite Thanksgiving sides is homemade cranberry sauce. Which is kind of funny because I don’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving. But in case you were not aware, cranberry sauce is SUPERB on TOFURKEY. Yes, I do eat tofurkey. No, not regularly. And actually not that brand either. I just call it tofurkey because I like saying the word. TOOOEEEEFUUUURKEYYYYY. Say it with me.

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce-3

I’m not the vegetarian who eats all that processed faux-meat junk but on this one joyous occasion, I make an exception. Actually, the last couple years I’ve chosen Field Roast’s Celebration Roast – the ingredient list isn’t all that scary – and they stuff it with delicious whole foods like butternut squash, apples, and mushrooms. Win!

So I pair my Field Roast with homemade cranberry sauce and I’m one happy lady.

I’m even more happy when my cranberry sauce doesn’t have a ton of added sugar in it. Most recipes for cranberry sauce call for at least a cup of sugar and that’s a LOT. So, I made a version that has 75% less added sugar and is sweetened by naturally occurring sugars like applesauce and orange juice.

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

This cranberry sauce was the perfect ratio of tangy to sweet. I don’t think I’ll ever make cranberry sauce with sugar again. It so doesn’t need it.

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

Yield: Approx 2 1/4 cups


  • 1 12-oz bag cranberries (approx. 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg


  1. Add cranberries, juice, applesauce, and agave to a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to simmer and add nutmeg.
  3. Let simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes until most of the cranberries have burst.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

Are you ready for game day? Will cranberry sauce be on the menu? Check out these recipes for more Thanksgiving ideas:

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds

Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds

Sweet Potato Mac N' Cheese | The Foodie Dietitian @karalydon

Sweet Potato & Kale Mac N’ Cheese

Sweet Potato Polenta with Thyme-Marinated Mushrooms | @TheFoodieDietitian

Sweet Potato Polenta Bites with Thyme-Marinated Mushrooms

I'm a nutrition coach and yoga teacher helping people to learn to love food again. I love cooking, taking pictures of my food and traveling around the world. Follow my blog for delicious, seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more yoga and mindfulness into your life. And check out my e-book to learn how to improve your health through nutrition and yoga. Show me what deliciousness you make! Tag me @karalydonRD on Instagram.


  1. Can you suggest a substitute for the agave syrup if I can’t find it? Does the cranberry sauce need to be refrigerated after it’s done or can I take in on a 3 hour plane trip to Florida?!

  2. What a great idea to add applesauce! I bet it adds to the creamy texture as well!

  3. OOhhh I must try this Field Roast you speak of! And LOVE that this cranberry sauce isn’t loaded with sugar like so many I see. Can’t wait to try! 🙂

  4. I LOVE making my own cranberry sauce so that I can control the sugar content 🙂 Love how you used orange juice to do it, I’ve used that in other recipes of mine too!


  5. I would love to try this but I do not have agave…is honey a good alternative? or maple syrup? Also… no orange juice…but I do have oranges… wonder how many I’d need!!


  6. I LOVE field roast thanksgiving loaf! It’s the best! I have no shame in my game and buy a few each holiday season. Leftovers are awesome thinly sliced and stacked like a sandwich! Of course, you know my feelings about cranberry sauce. I top everything with the stuff! YUM!

  7. This looks so good! Cranberry sauce so delicious but is usually soooo full of sugar! I have a cranberry salsa recipe that I love! I’ll have to play around with it to make a delicious low-sugar salsa instead 😉

  8. OK, YUM! Cranberry sauce is one of my favorite things on the Thanksgiving table…and homemade is SO much better than the weirdly gelatinous stuff out of the can. Even better when it doesn’t call for LOTS of white sugar! Totally making this…and not just for Thanksgiving 🙂

  9. I love cranberry sauce and a few years ago I made a similar version with orange juice, but mine still had a good amount of sugar (3/4 cup to 12 oz cranberries to be exact). Love the addition of applesauce here! Did you use an unsweetened variety?

  10. YUM! I’m going to make a point to bring some new favorite healthy dishes to our Thanksgiving this year so I can’t wait to see what you are up to in your kitchen… while I love my mom’s traditional sides, and I definitely don’t over eat (I’ve never understood why binging is the thing to do for Thanksgiving?), I don’t always feel the best because the food is heavy. I’d love to introduce a cranberry sauce like this and maybe a big green fall salad!

  11. As much as I love the idea of making my own cranberry sauce its probably not going to happen. I have to be real with myself:) However, if there are any awesome artisanal guys making something you recommend I’ll be all over that like a cheap suit at a mafia convention! 🙂

    • It’s much easier than you think, Andrew! It only took me 1-2 mins prep and 10-15 minutes to cook on the stovetop. You just throw all the ingredients in a pot and let it simmer! I’ll definitely keep my eyes open though for some cool artisan purveyors of cranberry sauce and let you know if I spot any!

  12. I just recently started liking cranberry sauce. I love that you call Thanksgiving game day 🙂 I don’t think I’m ready just yet haha

  13. Woohoo! I’m making this for Thanksgiving! Can’t wait to try it 😀

  14. YUM! I am so excited to host Thanksgiving at my house this year and can’t wait to make this sauce!

  15. The one time I made cranberry sauce…it was a fail. WAY to sour, haha! I need to try it again though! Homemade is the only way to go!

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