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Vegan Cranberry Sauce

Easy Cranberry Sauce (refined sugar-free)

  • Author: Elaine Gordon
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Made with fresh cranberries and sweetened naturally, this Easy Cranberry Sauce pairs perfectly with all of your holiday dishes.  I added sweet red apples for a special twist on this traditional holiday side dish.

This dish is best when made one day in advance of serving. 


  • 1 dry quart fresh cranberries, washed and drained
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 sweet red apple, cored, diced (skin on) [optional but recommended - see notes]
  • 3/4 cup maple sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • pinch of fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice


  1. Place cranberries, water, apples, maple sugar and salt in a 5.5 quart dutch oven over high heat.  Stir well as it comes to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes.  Stir frequently throughout to prevent burning.  The cranberries will pop throughout this part of the cooking process.  
  2. Remove from heat and add vanilla, cinnamon, almond extract and allspice.  Stir well and mash with a potato masher if desired.  
  3. Taste and adjust flavors as needed.  The flavors will develop more as the sauce cools.  The sauce will also thicken more as it cools.  I typically make the sauce in advance and taste after it has chilled overnight in the refrigerator.  Then I typically add any additional spices as I reheat it before serving.  
  4. When serving you can add orange zest as garnish if desired.  Please see notes below.


For chunkier cranberry sauce reserve a handful or two of fresh cranberries and add them toward the end of cooking.

You can make this sauce up to one week in advance.  Store once fully cooled to room temperature in an airtight container in your refrigerator.  

My mom (who has always been an incredible cook) swears by adding 1 chopped sweet red apple with the skin on during the cranberry cooking process.  When I tested it out myself, I really did like the balance of flavors.  This is not as traditional but it is a fun twist if you are looking to make a chunky cranberry sauce.  I do recommend!  You can easily leave the apples out and the sauce will still turn out delicious.

Optional Garnish: fresh orange zest (~ 1 teaspoon) - personally I do not like adding this and feel it overpowers the sauce.  However, I know it is traditional so I'm just mentioning it here for those that love the cranberry-orange flavor combination.

  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop

Keywords: paleo cranberry sauce