Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice | 4 Ingredients + Naturally Sweetened

For this super delicious cranberry sauce with orange juice you will only need 4 ingredients. It’s ready in 20 minutes and naturally sweetened with orange juice and dates!

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Each year there is a slight confusion about cranberry sauce. ”Too much work to make yourself or just too sour!” Well, my friend you have come to the right place to help that misconception out of the world with this recipe for cranberry sauce with orange juice.

This year I have cooked much more with cranberries than the years before. A new favorite is this recently shared Cranberry Orange Bread, but this cranberry sauce with orange juice is a must for the holiday season too!

This cranberry sauce is perfectly balanced, with the sour cranberries and the sweetness of orange juice and date syrup. Ultimately, cranberry sauce is all about a good balance of these flavors.

For this cranberry sauce with orange juice you’ll only need 4 ingredients and 20 minutes.

How to sweeten Cranberry Sauce

This cranberry sauce is full of flavor and sweetened with nature’s candy, aka dates. Date syrup in combination with orange juice is the perfect counterbalance for the sour cranberries.

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What are the ingredients for Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice?

What I like about this recipe is that it’s so easy to make, but that it also leaves room for some optional extra ingredients. You can customize this recipe, but for the irresistible classic version you’ll need:

Fresh (or frozen) Cranberries

Fresh is always easiest and best to use, but I have also made this cranberry sauce successfully with frozen cranberries. Last year, for some reason it was impossible to find fresh cranberries so I used frozen cranberries instead. All you need to do is simmer the sauce a bit longer than in the recipe below.   

Orange Juice

I think fresh orange juice is the best to use for this recipe. All you need is about one big orange so it doesn’t take too much time to prepare. Some recipes use only orange zest, but I think orange juice is a great way to sweeten this recipe and to skip the oil since the orange juice prevents the sauce from sticking to the pan. If you decide to use orange zest instead, make sure to taste and adjust the sweetness. You may need to use more date syrup then.

Date Syrup

I love to sweeten recipes with natural ingredients, such as dates or date syrup. For this recipe there is no need to use white refined sugar. You could also use maple syrup or coconut sugar instead of date syrup. I think these three sweeteners are a great alternative to white refined sugar and create a good balance with the sour flavor of the cranberries.

Vanilla Extract

This could officially be an optional ingredient, but I think vanilla and/or cinnamon are a game changer in this recipe. I personally like to add vanilla extract to flavor the cranberry sauce even more.

cranberry sauce ingredients with cranberries in a white bowl with a glass of orange juice and ingredients on a white marble cutting board sliced oranges on marble

What can you add to Cranberry Sauce

As I mentioned earlier, this recipe is totally customizable. You can make this recipe for example sweeter or warming with spices, such as cinnamon. You could add in extra orange zest or chopped pecans. Mint leaves are also a great addition to this recipe and it will make it extra festive.

How to make Cranberry Sauce

This recipe couldn’t be more simple. Heat up a (non-stick) pan and add in all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer. The cranberries will pop so keep a lid near to prevent splashes. Stir occasionally and remove from the heat when the sauce is thicker and most of the cranberries have popped.

You don’t have to cook the sauce all the way to your desired thickness and until all cranberries have popped. As it cools, the sauce will thicken up. And with a fork you can pop the cranberries that are still whole, or you can leave them as such.

warm cranberry sauce in blue pan on a cloth

How to serve Cranberry Sauce

In the U.S cranberry sauce is traditionally served as a Thanksgiving dish. If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or if you think just like me that this recipe should be served the entire festive season (it should!), then here are some tips on how to serve this sauce.

Traditionally cranberry sauce is used as a relish, but since this cranberry sauce can be served both cold or warm it leaves room to be creative.

  • It’s delicious on your toast or a muffin, basically use it as a jam
  • I love it with mashed potatoes
  • This sauce is also delicious in a chia pudding or any cake or pie
  • You could make delicious granola bars with it
  • A big dollop of this sauce in soy yogurt is also delicious
  • I love the combination with cabbage too
  • Cranberry sauce with roasted Brussels Sprouts is also amazing
  • For a quick dessert this sauce is also great with cooked whole grains with some chopped dates and nuts
  • A big tablespoon in your oat porridge in the morning is also a true treat!

So many options….

close up cranberry sauce decorated with orange slices, cranberries and thyme

Looking for more holiday recipes?

Try this Creamy Cauliflower Mashed Puree, Buckwheat Risotto, Sweet Potato Purée with Roasted Garlic or this Marinated Zucchini recipe.

I hope you are also going to make your own cranberry sauce. And do let me know!! Leave a comment and rate the recipe below and share it on Facebook or Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me @thegreencreator #thegreencreator. I look forward to seeing your creations!

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cranberry sauce in a white bowl decorated with orange slices, cranberries and thyme

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cranberry sauce in white bowl decorated with orange slices, cranberries and thyme

Cranberry Sauce with Orange Juice | 4 Ingredients + naturally sweetened

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  • Author: Bianca
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 big cups 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


For this super delicious cranberry sauce with orange juice you will only need 4 ingredients. It’s ready in 20 minutes and naturally sweetened with orange juice and dates!


  • 10.5 ounces (300 g) fresh or frozen cranberries*
  • 1/2 cup (115 ml) fresh-squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)*
  • 1/4 cup (70 ml) date syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional add-ins: ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, chopped mint leaves or thyme.


If you use fresh cranberries, give them a rinse under running water.

Add all the ingredients to a medium pan or pot over high heat. Bring slowly to a boil. Have a lid nearby as the cranberries will pop once they heat up. When they start to pop, reduce the heat to medium and let simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent the cranberries sticking to the pan. Let it simmer for about 5-7 minutes.

When almost all of the cranberry have popped and the sauce is a bit thicker, take the pan from the heat.  

With a fork you can mash the cranberries that are still whole. But you can also decide to keep the cranberries whole for extra texture. Serve warm or let cool.

You can keep any leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.


  • Cranberries: if you use frozen cranberries let the mixture simmer a bit longer. They will release more liquid so it’s important to give it time to let the liquid evaporate.
  • Orange Juice: I prefer fresh orange juice, but store bought will work as well
  • Sweetener: date syrup can be replaced with maple syrup or coconut sugar



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