Simple Cranberry-Apple Sauce…perfect for the holiday table or a weeknight supper

Simple Cranberry-Apple Sauce
If you are looking for an elegant, simple to prepare, and inexpensive dish to round out your Thanksgiving menu, this simple cranberry-apple sauce is what you’ve been looking for.  Maple syrup, citrus zest, apples, and fresh cranberries come together to create a complex sauce that just may convince your turkey to take a step away from the gravy.  I’m just saying.
As a child, one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving feast was the cranberry sauce.  I thought it was super cool how you could see all of the ridges from the can, and that the whole thing jiggled every time anyone bumped the table.  The perfectly round slices were also very appealing to my eye as I loved to share my vast knowledge of shapes and textures with my little sister.  (“See, Betsy. That’s a circle.  And a solid.”)
Since those days, my palate has become somewhat more sophisticated, but my love of cranberries has remained the same.  When lightly sweetened, the tart and tanginess of these powerful berries is a great break from the typical toppings for poultry.  Cranberries are also a natural anti-inflammatory (thanks to their high level of anthocyanin), can help prevent stomach ulcers and urinary tract infections, naturally detoxify the body, and can help ward off the cells that cause cancer.
When creating our family’s version of this dish, we decided to completely eliminate the processed sugar.  Instead, we used a combination of apples, fresh squeezed orange juice, and pure maple syrup to naturally sweeten the cranberries.  To boost the flavor profile and add some key health benefits, we added a bit of cinnamon, cardamon, and ginger as well.
The best part of this sauce is that it’s not just for Thanksgiving day.  Last year, we used the leftovers to make turkey, havarti, and cranberry paninis.  Earlier this week, while doing the final retest on the recipe, I served it over chicken breasts that I’d simply roasted in the oven.  Annie and Ellie went nuts over it!  (Darren was hunting.)  The girls loved it so much that they requested the leftovers for breakfast the next day.  I cooked up some oatmeal, spooned the sauce over the top, and breakfast was served.  This makes a large batch, but it stays fresh in the fridge for at least a week and can be frozen for up to three months.  (Defrost in the fridge overnight.)
What do you do with leftover cranberry sauce?

Ingredients (serves 10 as a side item):

Fresh cranberries, 12 ounces
Sweet apples, 2 average, I used Fuji
Orange, 1, zest and juice
Pure maple syrup, 2/3 cup
Ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp
Ground cardamon, 1/4 tsp
Ground ginger, 1/4 tsp

Instructions (20 minutes total, 5 minutes active):

Preparations:  Dice 2 sweet apples, no need to peel.  Zest 1 orange.  Place apples and orange zest in a medium-sized saucepan (around 2-quarts).  Cut orange in half and squeeze juice over apples, cut side up to prevent seeds from joining the apples.  Add cranberries, maple syrup, and spices to saucepan.
Place saucepan on a burner and turn heat to medium:  Stir cranberry-apple mixture until syrup comes to a bubble.  Once bubbling, continue to cook sauce for an additional 12 – 15 minutes, until all of the cranberries have popped.  (This will make sense when it happens.)  If only a few unpopped cranberries remain, feel free to smash them with the back of your wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and allow sauce to thicken/cool for about 10 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!  If desired, garnish with additional orange or lemon zest just before serving.
Notes:  Want to know one of the best things about this dish?  It actually tastes better when you make it ahead of time!  Perfect for the holidays!  As I mentioned, this dish is extremely kid-friendly and a great way to pack your kiddos full of healing nutrients on a traditionally starchy holiday.  It is also naturally vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free.
Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Healthnut Foodie will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and allows us to help spread the message of real food and living well.

Truestar Health


  1. Love this idea for a cranberry sauce. That is one thing I can't get enough of during the holidays!

  2. I am definitely making this for Thanksgiving dinner!!! We are having 25 people!!! Yikes. Thanks for this awesome addition! I will double the recipe for sure!

  3. Lori — Thank you!!! It is definitely a fun way to mix up the traditional. Let me know if you try it!!!

  4. AlyM — Yes! Your family will love it! The spices are super fun!

  5. Your cookbook and now website are such a lovely find for us! We like good tasting but healthful varieties of foods. I so appreciate your desire for healthy food without the crazy elimination of food groups or sacrifice of good taste.

  6. I make blueberry applesauce. Never thought of cranberry. I bet it's yummy. All I do with applesauce is throw apples in my vitamix. Raw, sugar free, applesauce. It's so much easier and healthier than cooking it. I can't wait to try cranberry though!

  7. Sarah — I just saw this comment! Thank you SO MUCH!!! I am so glad that my recipes are blessing your family as well!

  8. Twinlinebackers— What a great idea to do raw applesauce! I'm going to have to give it a try!!!

  9. Hello! I realize this is kind of off-topic however I needed to ask.
    Does operating a well-established website like yours take a lot of work?
    I’m completely new to blogging however I do write in my journal every day. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips for new
    aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

    • I love blogging! I think the amount of time it requires depends on how often you do it and what you want to share. I typically only post when I have something that I think is of utmost importance and NEEDS to be shared. Others make it a daily thing. Start a free blog on WordPress and then play around to see what works with you! Good luck!!!


  1. […] rows facing out. Place on a table filled with a perfectly roasted holiday bird, homemade gravy, cranberry sauce, butternut squash gratin, and […]

Speak Your Mind