Cranberry Sauce Recipe with No Added Sugar

Cranberry sauce adds a pop of color and tangy zing to any Thanksgiving spread. Problem is, cranberries are naturally pretty sour on their own, and the sweetness you taste in most recipes usually comes from more sugar than a can of soda.

If you’re going to indulge in sweets, save it for dessert. This cranberry sauce recipe is sweetened with applesauce, with the option to use maple syrup, honey, or your favorite natural sweetener if you want to tone down the tartness.

It’s easy to make, and likely the quickest recipe you’ll make for your whole Thanksgiving celebration. Here’s how to do it.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe with No Added Sugar

Time in the kitchen: 15 minutes

Serves: 8-10


  • 18 oz. fresh cranberries (we love Honestly Cranberry)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • Zest from ½ orange
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger


Place the cranberries and water in a pot and heat over medium heat.

Mix in the applesauce, orange juice, honey, and orange zest.

cranberry sauce ingredients in a pot

When the pot comes to a boil, reduce it to a simmer and stir in the ground cloves and ginger and the cinnamon.

cranberries simmering for cranberry sauceAllow the sauce to simmer for around 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches the consistency of your liking. Taste the sauce occasionally and adjust the sweetener to taste.

finished cranberry sauce recipe in a pot

Serve this cranberry sauce alongside your favorite meat or holiday meal. It’s also delicious as a lower sugar sweet option when paired with a bit of coconut cream, dark chocolate or fresh whipped cream.

bowl of cranberry sauce using a no sugar recipe

– If the cranberry sauce is too tart for you as written, feel free to add additional honey. You could also use maple syrup.
– Depending on the strength of your stove top burner and the size of your cranberries, you may need a little more or less time for the sauce to finish cooking.

bowl of cranberry sauce using a no sugar recipe

Nutrition Facts (1/8 of recipe):

  • Calories: 60
  • Fat: 0g
  • Total Carbs: 13g
  • Net Carbs: 10g
  • Protein: 0g

About the Author

A food blogger, recipe developer, and personal chef based in Missouri, Priscilla specializes in low-carb, Paleo, gluten-free, keto, vegetarian, and low FODMAP cooking. See what she’s cooking on Priscilla Cooks, and follow her food adventures on Instagram and Pinterest.

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11 thoughts on “Cranberry Sauce Recipe with No Added Sugar”

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  1. Honey is sugar.

    Not arguing that it’s a better sweetener than crystalized cane, just saying that it definitely *IS* added sugar and I hope everyone reading here is smart enough to realize that.

    1. Claiming honey is not sugar is one of my biggest nutritional pet peeves! Honey’s molecular makeup is primarily fructose and glucose. It *is* sugar by nature. Yes, it does have small amounts of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that processed sugar does not, but it is still very much a form of sugar, and will cause glucose and insulin spikes. I get that there is not much in this recipe, but I think it is incorrect to say that this recipe does not have added sugar.

      1. I saved this recipe before reading it, all while thinking “How will they pull this off without a sweetener?!”. Yep. This is as sugary as I thought it would be. I’m trying it out with a bit of monkfruit, but deleting the applesauce. At 12g per serving, I’d rather save my TG carb quota for sweet potatoes.

    2. The honey in this recipe is optional, but it is included in the nutrition info calculation since it’s listed in the recipe. Feel free to use less or fully omit it. Cranberry sauce with no sweetener can be super tart if one isn’t used to it so I always try to provide options. Another option for a lower carb option would be to use drops of liquid monkfruit sweetener in lieu of a sweetener like honey or maple syrup. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. I made my own cranberry sauce using an online recipe. Even though I used organic cane sugar, it is still sugar. Will be using this recipe from now on. Not a big fan of apples, so will try without apple sauce. Never thought of honey or maple syrup. Have lots of both.

  3. I’ve never heard about making cranberry sauce without sugar before seeing this, and now I am in love with this recipe!

  4. Making this for Thanksgiving thanks for the recipe. Looks yummy. I believe we should just reduce sugar in take even too much honey can be bad. Better to use natural sugars then mad made any day

  5. For a few years now, we have made great cranberry sauce that I would call fruit-sweetened. Roughly half cranberries, half cherries, with some frozen condensed orange juice. It’s still a lot of sugar if you are counting carbs, but I feel like at least it all comes with some nutrients. We have tried completely-unsweetened also but only the hardiest souls in the family could tolerate it.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I have tried after reading this article and everyone in the house loved it.