This 3 ingredient cranberry sauce is quick and can be made ahead. It keeps well and adds color, texture and tangy goodness to your Thanksgiving plate – or any time you need a refreshing addition to your dinner plate.

We started making cranberry sauce when we were avoiding corn.  Most commercial sauces contain corn syrup.  It was so quick and easy, I continued making it after we were able to eat corn again.  It only cooks for about 10 minutes.  The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

Isn’t all cranberry sauce vegan?

Most of it is, unless it is made with honey.   Many of my egg free and dairy free readers look for vegan, knowing that those recipes will  be safe for them.  Plus we have a growing number of vegan (or easily modifiable) recipes here for both vegans and those of you cooking for vegans.   So for allergies  – no common ones in this recipe!!


  • Cranberries – you can use fresh or frozen.  (I purchase extra cranberries when they are on sale to use year round! Just freeze them in their original bags in a freezer bag and wash when you are ready to use them.)
  • Sugar – choose whichever you prefer.  However I have only tested white granulated sugar.  See below for honey substitute.
  • Water


  • Rinse your cranberries.  Pick them over and discard any brown or overly wrinkly ones. 
  • Place the cranberries, sugar and water in a deep saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
  • Boil for about 20 minutes.  Long enough for the cranberries to “pop” and release the pectin they contain.  This pectin will thicken the sauce as it cools.  Continuing to boil after the cranberries pop will further thicken the sauce.
  • Store in a glass container in the refrigerator.  Keeps for several weeks.  Or you can freeze it for longer storage.  Be aware that if frozen it may “weep” liquid upon thawing.
  • Enjoy with your Thanksgiving turkey or year round!

Health Benefits

Cranberries are useful for fighting urinary tract infections, and so much more.  There is evidence that the phytochemicals in cranberries (mostly the proanthocyanidins, flavonols and polyphenols) help prevent heart disease, cancer, stomach ulcers, inflammation, diabetes and help the friendly bacteria that live in your gut.  For more detailed information listen to the The Sensitive Kitchen podcast, episode 39.

This cranberry sauce recipe (as well as my favorite cranberry relish) gives you the benefits of the whole cranberry.  When analyzing cranberries, one class of compounds, the proanthrocyanidins were higher in the skin than in the flesh of cranberries.  Because this cranberry sauce contains the cranberry skins, you are receiving all the benefits of cranberries.

Let’s talk about sugar

While cranberries are incredibly good for you, they are tart.  REALLY tart. Cranberries contain much less sugar than other fruits. Sugar makes cranberries palatable and very tasty.

However, most Americans consume way more sugar than is recommended (I know I do!).

Contrary to what some claim, sugar is not poison.  It is a simple carbohydrate your body burns for energy.  The main problem is that we eat too much of it and, like alcohol, it basically just provides calories without vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, and the other things your body needs to be healthy.

When I think about sugar, I like to think about the whole diet and nutrients. When you use sugar, be sure you obtain nutrients for that sugar, at least most of the time.  Fruit is the perfect example of this.  You get fiber, water, vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytochemicals when you eat fruit.

Let me give you another example. When my son was little, I struggled to get enough whole grains in his diet.  He would eat Frosted Mini Wheats, which are entirely whole grain.  It was a good trade off to use part of his sugar “allowance” to eat those whole grains.

Eating sugar with a meal will help keep your blood sugar from spiking.

I am not a big fan of most sugar substitutes.  Several studies show that sugar substitutes (sacchrarin, sucralose, stevia and sugar alcohols such as xylitol, erythritol and mannitol) have adverse effects on your gut microbiome. Other studies show artificial sweeteners do NOT help with weight loss. I understand that for some people they are very helpful.  But be careful. Eat them in small amounts, just like you would eat sugar. Personally when I eat something sweet, I use sugar.

What about “natural” sugars?

When people say “natural sugars”, most think of honey or maple syrup.  (We adore and use maple syrup in our house, but my husband is sensitive to honey so we avoid it).  While both honey and maple syrup contain trace amounts of nutrients, they are not inherently “better” for you than white sugar.  All of them contain simple carbohydrates (aka sugars) and by the time they are absorbed, your body cannot tell if that sugar molecule came from sugar cane, sugar beets, boiled sap from a maple tree, or strained and purified nectar gathered by bees.  As far as your body is concerned, sugar is sugar.   (In addition, stevia is not less processed than sugar cane or sugar beets.)

I am not encouraging you to eat sugar.  But just like with those Frosted Mini Wheats, if sugar allows you to eat “amazing for you” cranberries, most of you can handle some sugar. You can consume a little sugar daily.  I encourage you to eat it when you get some nutrients, like in cranberry relish or sauce instead of just sugar and water in a sugary beverage.

In addition, you can try to reduce the sugar in these recipes.  When I have tried to reduce the sugar, the recipes are too tart, so I end up adding more sugar so we can eat it.  But  your tastes will vary.  Give it a try.

And remember if you are substituting honey (NOT vegan)  for granulated sugar, the same amount of honey contains more sugar.  One cup honey contains 1030 calories and 278 grams of sugar.  One cup of sugar contains 774 calories and 200 grams of sugar. So use less.  

Looking for an easy. no cook, vegan cranberry relish? Try my family’s favorite Cranberry Relish!

cranberry sauce on a spoon over a glass jar of cranberry sauce

Vegan Cranberry Sauce

A simple vegan cranberry sauce with just 3 ingredients!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 80 kcal


  • deep saucepan/pot


  • 12 ounce bag cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar*


  • Rinse your cranberries.  Pick them over and discard any brown or overly wrinkly ones. 
  • Place the cranberries, sugar and water in a deep saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. 
  • Boil for about 20 minutes. The cranberries will "pop" and release the pectin they contain.  This pectin will thicken the sauce as it cools. Continuing to boil for a few extra minutes will result in a thicker sauce,.
  • Store in a glass container in the refrigerator.  Keeps for several weeks. 
  • Freeze for longer storage.  Be aware that if frozen it may "weep" liquid upon thawing.
  • Enjoy with your Thanksgiving turkey or year round!


  • * You can use almost any sweetener you desire.  Remember though that honey (NOT vegan) is more dense than sugar so use less!  Maple syrup (vegan) has a similar sugar concentration per cup to granulated sugar.  You can also reduce the amount of sugar in this recipe to your taste.   Orange juice can  be substituted for some of the sugar.  It will make a luscious cranberry orange sauce.


Calories: 80kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 24mgFiber: 1gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 17IUVitamin C: 4mgVitamin E: 1mgVitamin K: 1µgCalcium: 3mgFolate: 1µgIron: 1mgZinc: 1mg
Keyword dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, quick, soy-free, vegan
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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