Naturally Sweetened Honey Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce in glass bowl

skhoward / Getty Images

Total Time: 15 min
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Servings: 8 servings

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

82 calories
0g fat
22g carbs
0g protein
Show Nutrition Label Hide Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 servings
Amount per serving  
Calories 82
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 74mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 19g  
Includes 17g Added Sugars 34%
Protein 0g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 4mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 43mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Cranberry sauce is a beloved Thanksgiving mainstay that lends bright, fruity color and flavor to the holiday table, especially when it's made with fresh cranberries. Although many cranberry sauce recipes are loaded with sugar, they don't have to be. In fact, this cranberry sauce recipe is naturally sweetened—but still super delicious. It is easy to make and may even promote certain health benefits.

Cranberries provide important nutrients like fiber and vitamin C. They are also a rich source of polyphonols which are associated with antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits. And some studies have even shown that cranberries can help prevent urinary tract infections.

This honey cranberry sauce is for the purist. It requires just four simple ingredients: whole cranberries, honey, water, and salt. There are no spices, no orange peel, no juice…essentially nothing extra—just a bright celebration of cranberry flavor. But there are simple ways to jazz it up if you prefer.


  • 1 (12-oz bag) cranberries (fresh or frozen, no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Rinse and pick through the cranberries to remove stems and any soft or browned berries. Then, put cranberries in a pot on the stove.

  2. Add honey, water, and salt. Stir, and bring to a boil over medium heat.

  3. Stir frequently. The cranberries will pop and release their "gel" and the sauce comes together like magic. Cook down until the sauce is the consistency you want, usually about 5 to 10 minutes more. The longer you go, the thicker it will become.

Variations and Substitutions

If you don't have honey on hand or prefer not to use it, you can use maple syrup as the natural sweetener. Alternatively, you can eliminate the water and use one half cup of apple cider or orange juice instead.

Another option is to add in raisins, dried cherries, chopped nuts, hunks of peeled apple slices, or diced orange sections (remove the membrane around each segment, if desired). You can also add a little lemon or orange zest or squeeze in the juice of a tangerine for a citrusy zing. Or warm it up with spices like cinnamon. The variations are endless

If you want something even more jazzed up, try a cranberry chutney by adding in half of the cranberries (roughly chopped) in the last five minutes of simmering to end up with a chunkier mixture.

Cooking and Serving Tips

  • While this naturally sweetened cranberry sauce is perfect with turkey, it's also a hit over yogurt or ricotta cheese for breakfast or spread on bread or a muffin for a snack.
  • Serve the cranberry sauce year-round with cheeses and nuts as an hors d'oeuvre or dessert.
  • Make this cranberry sauce ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7–10 days. It is not recommended that you freeze it, however, as it can become runny.

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1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hisano M, Bruschini H, Nicodemo AC, Srougi M. Cranberries and lower urinary tract infection prevention. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2012;67(6):661-668. doi:10.6061/clinics/2012(06)18

By Team Verywell Fit
At Verywell Fit, we are dedicated to empowering you with the best answers to your most pressing questions, from healthy eating to exercise and everything in between.