This Whole30 Cranberry Sauce is an easy recipe that is perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations! This version is not that different from the traditional recipe, just a few slight ingredient changes (sweetener). This is a quick recipe that you can whip up with items you likely already have in your kitchen. This homemade cranberry sauce is also dairy-free, gluten-free, and follows the Paleo and Whole30 diets. If you're looking for a healthier alternative to store-bought cranberry sauces or want to try something new this holiday season, give this recipe a try!
Cranberry sauce is a staple on most Thanksgiving tables in the US and Canada. After all, it goes perfectly with turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, and more! Unfortunately, it is also one of the more unhealthy dishes with sugars as high as 50g per serving. By using Whole30-approved whole fruits, you can control all ingredients that go into this sauce, making it Whole30 compliant and more healthy.
This recipe will make your holidays much healthier and more satisfying if you follow the Whole30 diet this holiday season. Believe me; nobody can even tell the difference! So try this recipe; you will love it!
What is the Whole30 diet?
For those who don't know, the Whole30 diet is a nutritional reset. You cut out all sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy for 30 days. After that, only natural, unprocessed food is allowed.
Whole30 cranberry sauce is perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. It is Paleo and Whole30 compliant and refined sugar-free. It is made with natural ingredients and has no sweeteners other than the fruit itself (cranberries, apples, dates). After trying this recipe, you will never want to eat canned cranberry sauce again!
Easy: The cranberries, apple, orange juice, date paste, and spices are all cooked together in one dish, making for easy cleanup.
Healthy: This homemade sauce is made with natural and healthy ingredients. The cranberries are high in antioxidants, the dates are nutrient-rich and packed with antioxidants, and apples are high in vitamin C and fiber and can improve your cardiovascular health.
Paleo, Whole30 compliant: Only wholesome natural ingredients are used, and the sauce is sweetened with dates, a Whole30-approved sweetener.
Great for leftovers: This cranberry sauce can last for at least four days in an airtight container stored in the fridge, so feel free to double the recipe and save half for later (it freezes well too)!
You can easily have cranberry sauce on the Whole30 diet as long as you change the ingredients up a bit. Instead of sugar added to the cranberries, you can use natural sweeteners like dates to make your cranberry sauce. Not only is this Whole30 cranberry sauce easy, but it uses healthy ingredients that are easily found in stores.
- Whole fresh or frozen cranberries: Unsweetened whole cranberries are much healthier than processed versions because they contain no added sugar and much more vitamin C and fiber.
- Apple, diced: Chop the apple very fine, it does not soften as fast as the cranberries do.
- Orange juice: Unsweetened
- Date paste: This is the only sweetener approved by the Whole30 diet. This paste can easily be made with whole, pitted dates and water pulsed together in a food processor until a thick paste forms.
- Water: The cranberries need some moisture to cook.
- Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to make the cranberry sauce
MAKE THE DATE PASTE: Add the dates and water to a food processor. Pulse until the dates combine with the water to make a thick paste. Set aside.
MAKE THE SAUCE: Add whole fresh cranberries to a pot with one medium-sized apple, chopped fine. Add orange juice, water, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Bring the mixture to a low boil, and boil the mixture for about 5 minutes while stirring frequently, then reduce the heat to low. Add ⅛ cup of date paste and mix well. Taste the sauce, and if it is still too tart, add more date paste until the desired sweetness is reached. Depending on how sweet you like your sauce or how sour your cranberries are, you may need to use all of the date paste. 🙂 Cover with a lid and simmer until thickened (about 10 minutes). Stir occasionally to make sure it does not run out of liquid and burn.
COOL: Once done, remove whole cranberry sauce from heat and cool completely before transferring it into a glass jar or container. The Whole 30 cranberry sauce will last in the refrigerator, covered, for about 3 to 4 days. Make sure it is cooled completely before serving or refrigerating.
Can I make this cranberry sauce in the Instant Pot?
Yes! To make this sauce in the Instant Pot, add water, orange juice, cranberries, diced apple, and seasonings. Place the lid on and set to cook on high pressure for 1 minute. When finished, let the pressure naturally release for about 8 minutes, then manually release the pressure. Add date paste to taste and stir well. Turn the instant pot to saute and cook the sauce for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the instant pot and cool completely before pouring the cranberry sauce into a glass container or jar.
To make the date paste, you will need a food processor. If you do not have a food processor, chop up the dates as fine as you can and add them to the cranberry mixture to cook. They will soften and combine with cranberries and apples.
If you are making it in the instant pot, you will need an Instant Pot.
- SWEETENER: Instead of date paste, you could use a Whole30-approved sugar-free jam as a sweetener instead of dates.
- APPLE: Instead of apples, you could use an orange. If you don't have fresh oranges on hand, feel free to substitute store-bought juice, but try your best to find one that doesn't have added sugar!
- Water: Instead of water, you could use pineapple juice, unsweetened.
- SPICES: You could add cloves, ginger, or add extra cinnamon, giving it an excellent flavor combination!
- Cranberry ginger sauce: For a spicier variation, try adding 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger at the beginning of the cooking process.
- Cranberry sauce with pineapple: Substitute pineapple juice for the water.
- Cranberry pineapple orange sauce: Substitute pineapple juice for the water and orange for the apple.
- KETO: This paleo cranberry sauce is NOT keto-friendly. This is because the dates and apples contain too many carbohydrates. To make it keto-friendly, you need to omit the apple and dates and sweeten it with erythritol instead. If you do this, it would then not be Whole30 compliant.
FRIDGE: To store leftover cranberry sauce, pour it into an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. Whole30 cranberry sauce will keep for up to 4 days when stored properly.
FREEZER: This homemade sauce can also be frozen if you would like to make extra, then freeze it until the next holiday season!
It is a good idea to make the cranberry sauce a day in advance. The flavors will meld together overnight, and it'll be even better on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. If you want this recipe to be Whole30 compliant, make sure that you avoid dried cranberries, as they are full of refined sugars.
My favorite thing about this healthy cranberry sauce is that it's sweetened with whole, dried fruit instead of refined sugar - so you can feel good about eating it! This Whole30 cranberry sauce is just as delicious as the stuff you've had at family dinners in the past. This homemade sauce is flavorful and is sure to become a favorite of the whole family!
Cranberries are a naturally tart fruit. Therefore, it is essential to check for sweetness as you make the homemade sauce. If it's too sour, add more date paste, a tablespoon at a time - until the sweet/tart balance is just right for you. Once you've found the perfect amount of sweetener, stir and cook for another minute to make sure it blends in with the rest of the sauce.
Yes, you can overcook the sauce. The liquid will evaporate, and the sauce will burn. You only cook the cranberries until they have almost all burst. The others that haven't burst will pop when you remove them from the heat.
Homemade cranberry sauce thickens while it is cooking. If it is still too runny for your taste, reduce the liquid in the sauce down further by cooking until more of the liquid has evaporated. Remember, the sauce will thicken as it cools.
Cranberry sauce tastes best served at room temperature or chilled in the fridge. I prefer cranberry sauce chilled for the best flavor.
Health benefits of cranberries
Cranberries are known as a superfood and for a good reason. They are incredibly high in antioxidants, they have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects and protect against liver disease, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular health. They are also known to improve urinary tract health.
Cranberries may also help with gut health by improving gut bacteria in people who eat an animal-based diet. In other words, if you eat a lot of meat and dairy, cranberries can help put good bacteria back into your digestive system!
You can feel good knowing that this healthy cranberry sauce is sweetened with whole, dried fruit instead of refined sugar - so you can feel good about eating it!
More recipes for you to try
If you've tried this Whole30 Cranberry Sauce or any other recipe, please take a moment to leave a recipe rating or leave a comment letting me know how you liked it. I love hearing from you!
Whole30 Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- Food processor
- 4 cups whole cranberries fresh or frozen
- 1 apple diced fine
- 2 tablespoon orange juice unsweetened or freshly squeezed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon ground
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup whole, pitted dates about 14-15
- ¾ cup water
MAKE THE DATE PASTE
- First, add the dates and water to a food processor. Pulse until the dates combine with the water to make a thick paste. Set aside.
MAKE THE SAUCE
- Add whole fresh cranberries to a pot with one medium-sized apple, chopped fine. Add water, orange juice, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Bring the mixture to a low boil, and boil the mixture for about 5 minutes while stirring frequently, then reduce the heat to low. Add ⅛ cup of date paste and mix well. Taste the sauce, and if it is still too tart, add more date paste until the desired sweetness is reached. Depending on how sweet you like your sauce or how sour your cranberries are, you may need to use all of the date paste. 🙂 Cover with a lid and simmer until thickened (about 10 minutes). Stir frequently to prevent burning.
- Once done, remove whole cranberry sauce from heat and cool completely before transferring it into a glass jar or container. The Whole 30 cranberry sauce will last in the refrigerator, covered, for about 3 to 4 days. Make sure it is cooled completely before serving or refrigerating.
Instant Pot Instructions
- First, add water, cranberries, diced apple, and seasonings to the Instant Pot. Set to cook on high pressure for 1 minute. When finished, let the pressure naturally release for about 8 minutes, then manually release the pressure. Add date paste to taste and stir well. Turn the instant pot to saute and cook the sauce for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the instant pot and cool completely before pouring the cranberry sauce into a glass container or jar.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended