Orange Honey Cranberry Sauce (Paleo, Naturally-Sweetened)
Orange Honey Cranberry Sauce – This paleo cranberry sauce recipe can also easily be made vegan. With bright citrus notes and a hint of cinnamon, this naturally sweetened cranberry sauce is the perfect addition to the holiday table. (Gluten-free, paleo & vegan-friendly)
Guys, I feel like doing a holiday dance! Halloween is fun, but I feel like November 1st starts my FAVORITE time of the year. Gearing up for the holiday season with recipes is one of my favorite “jobs” as a recipe developer and blogger. I’ve been dabbling in sweet potato casseroles, stuffing, instant pot mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie bars for the last few months and am SO EXCITED to share what I’ve been working on.
First up is this gorgeous Orange Honey Cranberry Sauce recipe. This paleo cranberry sauce is naturally sweetened and hits all the right notes–brightness from the citrus, just enough sweetness, and even a tiny hint of cinnamon.
I’ve tried it a few ways over the years to provide a lot of flexibility for anyone following a special diet or cooking for someone who is, since no one wants to miss out at the holidays. My very favorite way to make this naturally sweetened cranberry sauce is with honey, but I also tried it with pure maple syrup and agave and was VERY happy with both of those. (As you’ll see in the notes, you may want to play with the amounts a bit to get the sweetness right where YOU like it, but I’ve provided the range that’s worked most consistently for me over my tests.)
Fair warning: you might just find yourself busting out the holiday music and feeling all the very merry thoughts when the smell of this orange cranberry sauce starts wafting through your house!
Whether you’re serving this with turkey for Thanksgiving, dolloping it on some steel-cut oats or making festive fruit-on-the-bottom chia puddings (trust me!), this orange honey cranberry sauce is THE cranberry sauce recipe try this year.
Here’s what you need to get started on our Orange Honey Cranberry Sauce…
Ingredients For Orange Honey Cranberry Sauce:
- Fresh or Frozen Cranberries. You can use fresh or frozen cranberries for this orange honey cranberry sauce recipe. Just be sure to give them a good rinse if they’re fresh!
- BEST Quality Orange Juice. Next, to give it an orange cranberry sauce flavor, you’ll use orange zest and orange juice. Since there are so few ingredients here, it’s really important to use high-quality orange juice. You can juice fresh oranges, or use a very high-quality store-bought juice. (Simply Orange is my favorite)
- Honey or Pure Maple Syrup. This paleo cranberry sauce is naturally sweetened, so we swap out sugar in favor of honey or pure maple syrup. Both work like a charm here!
- Water. You’ll need a little water to loosen things up and help the mixture turn saucy.
- Cinnamon & Salt. Then, you’ll finish things off with a pinch of cinnamon and salt. It might seem strange to add salt to the recipe, but I promise it makes a big difference in the balance of flavor. You’ll have tartness, sweetness, acidity, bitterness (nothing crazy, just what’s naturally in citrus & cranberry), and a little salt helps balance all those flavors cohesively.
8 Yummy Ways To Eat Leftover Cranberry Sauce:
If you’ve got leftover orange cranberry sauce, there are SO many yummy ways to eat it! Here are some of our favorites…
- As A Sandwich Spread! Build leftover turkey sandwiches and use a schmear of this naturally sweetened cranberry sauce as your main condiment. (Some people even like mixing it with mayo a bit to make a creamy spread!)
- On Top Of Oatmeal. Try adding some orange honey cranberry sauce to a bowl of warm Stovetop or Instant Pot Steel-Cut Oatmeal for breakfast. I love the cold cranberry sauce with the warm oats. It’s so cozy!
- With Yogurt For Parfaits. Layer yogurt, granola, and leftover cranberry sauce to make bright, happy breakfast parfaits. I recommend our Maple Pecan Granola or Pumpkin Pecan Granola for these!
- In Fruit-On-The-Bottom Chia Pudding. Use leftover cranberry sauce in place of our fruit purees for fruit-on-the-bottom chia pudding. It’s easy, delicious, and a nice change of pace from other leftovers!
- Spread On Toast. Make a slice of warm, buttery toast and add some orange honey cranberry sauce on top like jam. I love it this way!
- With Cream Cheese On Crackers. Or, dollop cream cheese on crackers and add a dollop of orange cranberry sauce to go with it. Sweet + tart + crunchy + savory = so good!
- Served With Muffins. Or, spread some cranberry sauce on our Orange Cranberry Muffins like jam. You get a double dose of that orange-cranberry flavor!
- Make a Mocktail! If you want to get a little fancy, you can use leftover cranberry sauce to make a cranberry cider mocktail. Skip our cranberry puree and use cranberry sauce instead. Sounds crazy, but it works!
FAQ + Tips For The Best Orange Honey Cranberry Sauce:
TIP: HOW TO NAIL THE SWEETNESS. There are a few variables at play whenever you’re working with berries and citrus. Depending on what orange juice you use and how tart your berries are, you may want to use more or less sweetener. I recommend starting with at least 1/3 cup (less and your mouth will pucker!). Taste and add additional honey/syrup/agave as desired. I usually end up with about 1/2 cup, but follow your tastebuds!
VEGAN? READ THIS! Despite the fact that it has “honey” in the title, this paleo cranberry sauce recipe is also easily vegan. I tested it using both pure maple syrup and agave. It was delicious! You can also try apple honey (made from apple juice) if you like. (It’s worked great in other recipes for me.)
CAN I MAKE THIS CRANBERRY SAUCE IN ADVANCE? Orange Honey Cranberry Sauce is totally your friend when it comes to getting ahead in your holiday cooking. It keeps for about a week, so it can be made a day or two (or three!) in advance. You could even make and freeze it way ahead of time, then thaw it the day before.
CAN YOU FREEZE CRANBERRY SAUCE? You can! It freezes beautifully. Freeze in a freezer-safe jar (leaving 1″ of room at the top to allow for expansion) or press flat in a freeze safe bag and freeze until solid. I recommend thawing in the refrigerator overnight before you plan to use it.
FLAVOR TWISTS + ADD-INS. My favorite add-in for orange honey cranberry sauce is a tiny pinch of salt (which is totally optional). You can also turn up the cinnamon factor if you want by using a cinnamon stick for a few minutes instead of the pinch of cinnamon. Or, add a savory element by adding a sprig of rosemary for the last 3-4 minutes (which will be just long enough to lend some flavor without taking over the whole dish). Remove the cinnamon stick or rosemary before serving.
Love This Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce Recipe? Here ARe More Thanksgiving Favorites To Love:
- Paleo or Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes (Whole30 + Vegan Options!)
- Crispy Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
- How to Make Gluten-Free Pie Crust
- Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Simple Mushroom Gravy (Paleo + Whole30 + Vegan Options)
- Maple Pumpkin Pie – Absolutely delicious.
- The Best Pecan Pie (No Corn Syrup + Paleo-Friendly)
Orange Honey Cranberry Sauce (Paleo & Vegan Friendly)
- Total Time: About 25 minutes
- Yield: about 2 cups sauce. 1x
- Diet: Gluten Free
Orange Honey Cranberry Sauce – This paleo cranberry sauce can also easily be made vegan. With bright citrus notes and a hint of cinnamon, this naturally sweetened cranberry sauce is the perfect addition to the holiday table.
- 1 (12oz) bag fresh cranberries, washed and picked through (discard any shriveled or bruised ones)
- 1/2 cup orange juice (I like Simply Orange or freshly squeezed)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3–1/2 cup honey, pure maple syrup, or agave (use syrup or agave for vegan)
- 1–2 tsp fresh orange zest
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch salt (optional)
- Wash and sort through cranberries, discarding any shriveled or brown berries.
- Pour cranberries into a medium saucepan. Pour in orange juice, water, and honey. Add 1 tsp fresh orange zest and cinnamon.
- Stirring frequently, bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook about 20 minutes, or until most of the cranberries have “popped” or burst. If you like completely smooth sauce, you can mash the remaining berries (or toss everything into a blender).
- Taste sauce and add additional orange zest or honey as desired. If you like, add a tiny pinch of salt and stir in.
Make Ahead Notes. Cranberry sauce is totally your friend when it comes to getting ahead in your holiday cooking. It keeps for at least a week, so it can be made a day or two (or three!) in advance. You could even make and freeze it way ahead of time, then thaw it the day before.
Sweetness. There are a few variables at play whenever you’re working with berries and citrus. Depending on what orange juice you use and how tart your berries are, you may want to use more or less sweetener. I recommend starting with at least 1/3 cup (less and your mouth will pucker!). Taste and add additional honey/syrup/agave as desired. I usually end up with about 1/2 cup, but follow your tastebuds!
Twists and add-ins. My favorite add-in is a tiny pinch of salt (which is totally optional). You can also turn up the cinnamon factor if you want by using a cinnamon stick for a few minutes instead of the pinch of cinnamon. Or, add a savory element by adding a sprig of rosemary for the last 3-4 minutes (which will be just long enough to lend some favor without taking over the whole dish). Remove the cinnamon stick or rosemary before serving.
- Prep Time: 3-5 minutes
- Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: cranberry sauce, orange cranberry sauce, orange honey cranberry sauce, honey cranberry sauce, paleo cranberry sauce, vegan cranberry sauce, naturally-sweetened cranberry sauce, healthy cranberry sauce
Originally shared in Nov 2017. Fully updated Nov 2021.
Homemade cranberry sauce is totally the way to go! This looks amazing!
Thanks, Paige! I totally agree 🙂
How do you counteract the bitterness? Mine came out very bitter.
I’m sorry that happened! I haven’t run into bitterness any of the times I’ve made this, so there are a few things I’m wondering about…
1. Zest – It could be your orange zest was on the bitter side, especially if you accidentally included the white pith too. (you want 1-2 tsp of JUST the orange zest, not the pith underneath. You may want to add more honey or possibly a splash of juice to help. BUT…
2. The orange juice you used–if it’s store-bought it could run bitter/sour, so if that’s the case, I’d recommend adding a little extra honey or juice to counteract that.
I hope some of this helps!
I have made this the last 2 thanksgivings and it turns out amazing each time. My one suggestion is don’t forget the pinch of salt. The pinch of salt always makes mine taste sweeter (i don’t understand the science here) seriously you won’t regret it.
I’m SO glad you’ve enjoyed it! Thank you so much for sharing. I totally agree about the pinch of salt! It makes a difference!
Happy Thanksgiving 🙂