Enjoy this easy vegan cranberry sauce infused with orange, a hint of nutmeg, and the perfect balance between sweet and tart. Made with only five ingredients, this homemade cranberry sauce is way better than store-bought!
If you’re used to buying canned cranberry sauce, I have a message for you. Stop! Because you can make this easy homemade cranberry sauce instead. I like to make it the day before the big meal, refrigerate it, and then set it on the table. Your people will be so impressed!
How to Make Vegan Cranberry Sauce
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Add the cranberries, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, and water to a pan over medium heat.
- Zest an orange and add around 1 teaspoon of loosely packed orange zest.
- Then juice the orange and add around 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Stir it together and then bring it to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for up to 10 minutes, uncovered.
- Take the pan off the heat source and use tongs to remove the cinnamon stick.
- Let this mixture come to room temperature. Then transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate until chilled.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:
- Cranberries — You’ll need a 10 or 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries. You can find them this time of year in the produce section. Feel free to substitute frozen cranberries.
- Sugar — I prefer using light brown sugar for this recipe. It adds a nice caramel touch to the finished sauce. You can substitute granulated sugar. See below for refined-sugar free options.
- Nutmeg — We’ll be adding half of a teaspoon of ground nutmeg. You can use storebought or freshly ground nutmeg.
- Cinnamon stick — I love this sauce simmering with a cinnamon stick on top. If you don’t have one, you can substitute 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
- Orange — I like using a fresh orange for this recipe. I begin by lightly zesting the skin. You only need a teaspoon of orange zest, but you can add more if you prefer more orange flavor. Then juice the orange and add the juice to the pan. Some oranges will deliver up to 1/2 cup of juice. Just use whatever your orange delivers.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- EASY — Made with only five ingredients, this sauce is ready within minutes!
- FRESH — You want to dazzle your guests with fresh cranberry sauce — they’ll be so impressed!
- TASTY — Adding fresh orange zest boosts the flavor profile of this perfect Thanksgiving side dish.
Why is cranberry sauce not vegan?
Many store-bought cranberry sauces are vegan, however, some do contain gelatin as a thickener. Always read the labels. Better yet, make your own cranberry sauce at home!
Can you freeze cranberry sauce?
Yes, you can freeze cranberry sauce. Simply transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 6 months.
Naturally-Sweetened Cranberry Sauce
I understand that using refined sugars may not be on your holiday to-do list. I prefer brown sugar because it’s easy, affordable, and readily available. However, if you want refined sugar-free cranberry sauce, consider these sweeteners instead:
- Maple syrup — This has an equal level of sweetness with sugar, so use it 1:1 and eliminate the water.
- Agave nectar — Use 2/3 cups of agave nectar and eliminate the water.
- Vegan honey — Same as agave nectar, so use 2/3 cups and eliminate the water.
You can experiment with reducing the amount of sweetener. I find cranberries are bitter beasts, and therefore, I prefer a full cup of sugar. You may be able to reduce it down to 3/4 cup of sugar, but much lower than that, and you risk this dish being too tart.
Uses for Leftover Cranberry Sauce
If you’ve got leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving, lucky you! Here are my favorite ways to use this delicious leftover sauce!
- Add cranberry sauce on top of vegan oatmeal pancakes for a real treat
- It’s also very tasty on top of vegan French toast!
- Drizzle it over chia pudding
- Use it in place of jam on a slice of toast
- Freeze it into ice cube molds and add cranberry cubes to your Christmas punch!
- You’ll love it as a sauce over vegan chicken, vegan turkey loaf, or vegan ham.
Store cranberry sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Vegan Thanksgiving Sides
Everyone loves this vegan cranberry sauce, and here are even more vegan Thanksgiving side dishes you’ll want to try:
Vegan Cranberry Sauce
- 4 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup light brown sugar (substitute maple syrup, agave nectar or vegan honey)
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ cup water
- 1 fresh orange
- Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cranberries, brown sugar, ground nutmeg, cinnamon stick, and water to the pan. Zest the orange and add around 1 teaspoon of loosely packed orange zest. Then juice the orange and add around 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice. Some oranges produce more or less juice. Just use whatever your orange delivers.
- Stir and bring it to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for up to 10 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat and use tongs to remove the cinnamon stick.
- Let this mixture come to room temperature. Then transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. It will thicken as it chills.
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SugarI tried reducing the sugar content, but cranberries are on the bitter side, and without adequate sugar, they will make you pucker. You may get away with reducing it to 3/4 cup of sugar, but I prefer the sweeter full cup. I enjoy using light brown sugar because of the hint of caramel flavor it adds.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.