Are Dried Cranberries Good for a Low-Carb Diet?

Dried cranberries, annotated

Photo: Alexandra Shytsman 

Are cranberry raisins OK for a low-carb diet? The answer is not a simple yes or no. In fact, in order to answer it fully, you must consider where you're getting your cranberry raisins (more often known as "craisins") and what's on the ingredients list.

Nutritional Benefits of Raw and Dried Cranberries

It's true that alone and unadorned, cranberries are almost a perfect diet food, as they are high in nutritional value and fiber while being low in carbohydrates and calories.

Although some actually enjoy the mouthy-puckering tartness of raw cranberries, unfortunately for most people, plain cranberries are much too tart to enjoy, which is where people start to get into healthy diet trouble.

Why Store-Bought Dried Cranberries Aren't a Great Choice

Due to their incredibly tart natural taste, most commercial cranberry products available are loaded with added sugar. When it comes to most store-bought "craisins," one-third of a cup of dried cranberries can contain 2 tablespoons of sugar. The addition of the sugar changes dried cranberries from a very low-carb fruit to a high-carb choice.

But not all dried cranberry products contain added sugars. Today, it's getting easier to find reduced-sugar or sugar-free dried cranberries, but you must check labels carefully.

How to Make Your Own Low-Carb Dried Cranberries

Due to the soluble fiber in cranberries, which attracts water, it is a bit trickier to dry cranberries with an alternative sweetener versus traditional refined sugar. But, here's a way that works, and it isn't too difficult:


  • 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh whole cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar substitute of your choice (can vary to taste)
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Heat oven to 200 F.
  2. Put cranberries in a large skillet, and pick through to remove soft and/or brown ones.
  3. If sweetener is powdered, dissolve in water. (comparison of sources of "liquid Splenda"). Pour over cranberries and stir.
  4. Heat on medium-high until cranberries pop, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir every minute or two. When all seem popped, turn off the burner and let them cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Squish them down with the back of a large spoon. Don't worry if it seems they are melding together. Let cool another 5 minutes or so.
  6. Cover baking sheet with three layers of paper towels and a piece of parchment paper. (You could try a food dehydrator if you have one.)
  7. Spread cranberries on the parchment. They will mostly "individuate" again as they dry. If unpopped ones remain, squish them down now.
  8. Put in oven and turn heat down to 150 F.
  9. In 2 to 4 hours, replace parchment and flip paper towels over. (Optional, but it speeds up the process.)
  10. Start checking after 6 hours. Total time depends on humidity and other factors. It usually takes me about 8 hours. It also depends on whether you want to dry them to the point where they still have some "give" or whether you like them "crispier".
  11. Separate them, and store covered (zip-type bags work well).

The whole recipe has 25 grams of effective carbohydrate and 16 grams of fiber.

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