Sugar-Free Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Keepin it Real Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a holiday table staple. But I’ve always been slightly weirded out by the jello-y mush that comes from a can. And which initially retains the shape of said can. Weird.

And they usually contain corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. That’s beyond weird. That’s just plain bad in my book. Fortunately my mom has always made her special cranberry ‘chutney’ for the holidays, which is made of all real cranberries, plus some other unexpected goodies.

Because in case you haven’t gotten the memo, real food is real good for you. And that goes for cranberries too: they’re packed with anti-cancer and immunity-boosting benefits. So the goal is to maximize both the flavor and the nutritional benefits of all the delicious eats.

My mom’s recipe does call for some sugar to sweeten it up a bit, so I asked if I could get the recipe this year and see if I could clean it up just a bit more.

sugar-free fresh cranberry sauce

So Fresh n So Clean

So here we go! The recipe already called for fresh cranberries, so we’re obviously keepin it fresh. It also calls for a real orange, an apple, plus some celery, onions, walnuts and ginger – and you guessed it, all fresh.

When my mom first served this chutney I was a little weirded out by the celery and onion. But the flavors all blend together and balance each other so well, the vegetables really just add dimension to the recipe. Plus they’re obviously healthy. So they stay.

I nixed the sugar and dried fruit and added a little unsweetened apple sauce plus some raw honey. I also added a small dash of monk fruit just to balance it out. It all came together really well, and I wound up with a super-clean, nutritious version of cranberry sauce.

Skip the honey to keep it vegan, or add more to taste if not using monk fruit.

Check out a few of my other paleo and vegan friendly thanksgiving and holiday recipes:

sugar-free fresh cranberry sauce

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Sugar-free paleo, vegan fresh cranberry sauce with some unexpected guests that bring the gift of nutrition: fresh fruit, nuts, and vegetables

Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8


  • 1 12oz bag fresh cranberries may use frozen
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup diced orange with rind
  • 1/3 small sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp raw honey may add more to taste, or replace with monk fruit
  • 0-1 tsp monk fruit sweetener start low and add slowly


  1. Add cranberries, applesauce, water, and orange to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

  2. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  3. Add onion, apple, celery, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, and honey and simmer for another 5 minutes. 

  4. Allow to cool and serve. 


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