Cranberry sauce or cranberry relish; the must serve side dish for roast turkey or ham. Concerned about the sugar in most recipes, here is my new version. Cranberry pomegranate sauce, with great taste and less sugar. It takes just minutes to make. Great for the busy holiday cook.
Rethinking Cranberry Sauce
When it comes to Thanksgiving tradition, my family has made a simple, no-cook cranberry sauce for decades. My mom’s recipe starts with a can of good old Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce. I loved it and never thought much about it until I read the label. I was shocked at the amount of sugar. One small 14 ounce can has 121 grams! That is 30 teaspoons of sugar (1 teaspoon per 4 grams). Think about 30 little sugar cubes piled up next to that can. What a visual!
Standard Cranberry Sauce Recipes
Most cranberry sauce recipes start out with a 12 ounces bag of cranberries and a whole cup of white sugar. It might taste wonderful but so much sugar is just not good. I hear people saying, “but it’s just a treat, it’s just a holiday”. True, but why put your health goals aside for the holiday when there are healthier alternatives? It’s easy to get carried away with sugar at the holidays. It’s also smart to reduce it where we can and be wise about how much we consume.
How to Reduce the Sugar
There are several ways you can reduce the sugar in cranberry sauce. I tested them all.
- Option #1 – Use half sugar and half stevia. If trying this option, skip the white refined sugar and choose a natural organic one (like Wholesome Sweeteners Organic natural sugar). At least it is not refined. For the balance of the sweetness try 3-4 tablespoons of granular stevia. Taste as you go for the right balance for your tastebuds.
- Option #2 – Substitute all stevia for sugar. As stevia is twice as sweet as sugar, use half or even a little less than half as much sugar. Another idea – add drops of liquid stevia, either plain or orange flavored. Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops makes great flavored liquid stevia in orange. With all stevia, there might be a slight bitter aftertaste that the cranberries, pomegranate and orange do not hide. I made it this way in testing and enjoyed it, feeling better that it had no sugar.
- Option #3 – Sweeten with honey. Honey is also sweeter than sugar, so you can use less.
- Option #4 – I used 2 tablespoons of organic natural sugar and 1 tablespoon of granular stevia. That is far less than the traditional 1 cup of sugar. It was sweet enough for me and tasted great. Added a pinch of cinnamon and fresh orange zest at the end. This is the version I will use for Thanksgiving dinner.
- Option #5 – Try using an erythritol/monkfruit blend like So Nourished. It comes in granular and powdered forms.
Cranberry pomegranate sauce takes just minutes to make and can easily be done a day or two ahead of time. My recipe is not your overly sweet style. If it is too tart for you, adjust with more sweetener of choice. A little tartness is good against roast turkey and gravy. If you cook it down too much and it’s not fluid enough, add more orange juice until the texture is right for you.
For my mom’s traditional recipe, try this no-cook cranberry sauce.
Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce
- 1 large orange
- 2 - 4 tablespoons organic natural sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated stevia or liquid drops
- 12 ounces fresh raw cranberries washed and picked over
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- Pinch salt
- Pinch cinnamon or more to taste
- Zest the orange, then juice. You should get about 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of zest and 1/2 a cup of juice. Place juice, sugar and stevia into a medium (3 quart) pan and melt the sugar until smooth over medium low heat, stirring. Add cranberries, bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Turn to medium low and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add pomegranate seeds, orange zest, salt and cinnamon. Cool and serve.