I don’t know about you, but I love this whole holiday season – basically Halloween until New Year’s Day.  I love spending time with my family, doing fun things together, focusing on all we have to be thankful for, giving gifts, and, of course, the food!  Holiday meals are great, because there’s usually so many options.  You can choose the foods that fit your dietary needs, and leave out those that don’t.

My family does holiday meals potluck style.  Every family brings one or two dishes to contribute to the meal. There will be gluten-filled bread and pies and mashed potatoes filled with dairy a that I won’t partake in.  So I make sure the dishes that I make are ones that fit my Paleo lifestyle (will help me fill good, not feel super full and bloated afterwards, won’t flare up my eczema, or spike my blood sugar way up) and are ones that I love to eat.

One dish I’m making this year is the cranberry sauce.  Cranberry sauce was not a dish I liked as a kid, but I’ve grown to LOVE it…when it’s made the right way.

Canned cranberry sauce that’s all jellied is not my cup of tea.  I’m not a fan of the texture or the ingredients (high fructose corn syrup, no thank you!).

This is the best homemade cranberry sauce recipe and is my favorite way to enjoy cranberry sauce – saucy (it is cranberry sauce after all, not jelly), but with some of the cranberries still whole.  The flavors are so delicious too! I use orange juice and zest to brighten it up, as well as vanilla and cinnamon to give it more of a warm, fall flavor.  And its sweetened with one of nature’s best sweeteners, maple syrup, instead of inflammatory sugar or corn syrup.  Not to mention, it’s super easy and quick to make, freeing up time to work on those more  complex Thanksgiving dishes.

It’s delicious, and I think you’ll love it too!

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The Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce

1. Prep

Ok, there’s not really much prep you need to do before cooking the cranberry sauce.  But go ahead and get your ingredients out.  For the best homemade cranberry sauce, you’ll need:

  • 3 Cups cranberries (I use frozen, but you can use fresh as well).
  • 1 orange (you’ll need the zest and the juice)
  • 1/4 Cup organic maple syrup (or less if you’d prefer)
  • 1/2 Cup filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp organic cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (not pictured here)

cranberry sauce ingredients

Then use a zester or grater to zest the orange to save for later.  One orange should get you about 1/2 – 1 tsp of zest.

orange zest

2.  Boil

Now it’s time to start cooking the sauce.  Start by adding the water, maple syrup, and the juice from the orange to a medium-sized saucepan. Turn on medium-high heat, and bring it to a boil.

boiling water

3.  Add Cranberries

Once it’s boiling, add the cranberries, salt, and cinnamon to the pot.  Allow it to return to a boil.  Then turn the heat down to medium-low.

cranberries in pot

4.  Simmer Cranberries

Let the cranberries simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it reaches your desired consistency.  Stir occasionally while it’s cooking.  The cranberries will pop open and form the sauce.  Like I said, I don’t like to cook it so long that all the cranberries are “sauced,”  I like to stop the cooking while some of the cranberries are still whole.

cranberries simmering

5.  Add Vanilla & Orange Zest

Then add to the sauce the vanilla extract and the orange zest.  Stir it into the cranberry sauce and allow it to cook for another two minutes.

6.  Enjoy!

Remove the sauce from the heat and transfer to a serving dish.  I love that cranberry sauce can be served both warm or cool.  I prefer it warm.

If you’re not serving this sauce the same day you’re making it, you can always store it a glass container, cover it with a lid, and freeze it.  Just take it out of the freezer the day before you’ll be eating it so it can return to room temperature.  If you want to serve it warm, just transfer it to a pot on the stove and cook for just a few minutes.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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The Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Brittany Davis
This cranberry sauce is healthier with maple syrup instead of refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup. It's made delicious with orange juice and zest, vanilla, and cinnamon!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American


  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 1 orange zested and juiced
  • 1/4 Cup maple syrup
  • 3 Cups cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


  • Add the water, orange juice, and maple syrup to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.
  • Add the cranberries, cinnamon, and salt to the pan. Let it return to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the cranberries simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Add the orange zest and vanilla. Cook for another 2 minutes.
Keyword healthy, paleo

The Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce

The Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce (Paleo)
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