During the chaos of holiday meal prep, it can be tempting to reach for pre-made canned cranberry sauce. But before you reach for that trusty can opener, you’ll want to check out this recipe first. As an easy, no-fuss side dish, homemade cranberry sauce is always worth the effort.
Besides, it requires just 20 minutes (or less) of your time. All you need to do is mix and enjoy. Plus, it’s made with real fruit, so you and your guests can savor the rich flavor of cranberries.
You can even make this homemade vegan cranberry sauce in advance. It lasts for about 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator, so feel free to whip it up a few days before the festivities.
First, you’ll need fresh or frozen cranberries. Obviously, nothing beats fresh berries, but the frozen kind works just as well. It’s especially convenient for those last-minute visitors or gatherings. You’ll also need water, white sugar, and maple syrup. To spice it up with extra flavoring, use cinnamon and/or nutmeg.
Depending on your preference, you can ditch the white sugar and just use maple syrup. Some people like to completely omit the sweetener and use apple juice or orange juice in place of water.
Wash the cranberries and discard any wilted or damaged berries. If you’re using frozen cranberries, skip to the next step.
In a small pot over high heat, combine the water and sugar. Bring the water to a boil. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, mixing constantly.
Add the maple syrup and mix well.
Transfer the cranberries to the pot. If you’re feeling adventerous, add chopped apples or pineapples.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the cranberries for 12 to 15 minutes. The cranberries will slowly pop and release their juices. It’s best to mix frequently to ensure the sauce is evenly heated.
For extra flavor, add cinnamon and/or nutmeg. You can also add the following ingredients for a festive and fancy touch:
- orange zest
- lemon zest or juice
- dried apricots
- dried figs
- splash of bourbon, whiskey, or rum
Do you prefer a smoother sauce? Keep cooking the cranberries until every last one releases its juices, then strain through a mesh sieve.
The sauce will thicken as it cools. Enjoy it warm or cold, and serve it with your favorite vegan Thanksgiving side dishes like stuffing or mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy. You’re also welcome to eat it by the spoonful — we won’t judge.
Have you ever made cranberry sauce from scratch? How would you flavor your sauce? We’d love to hear your ideas, below!
Vegan Cranberry Sauce
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries about 3.5 cups
- 1 cup water or orange juice
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup white sugar or more maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon optional
- Wash the cranberries. Remove any damaged or wilted pieces.
- In a small bowl over high heat, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the maple syrup.
- Transfer the cranberries to the pot. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until most of the cranberries burst.
- For extra flavor, mix in cinnamon or other ingredients of your choice. Serve warm or cold.