Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Honey

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Everyone has their Thanksgiving favorite, and mine is cranberry sauce.

Hands-down, without a doubt, no ifs, ands, or buts… cranberry sauce. The day just wouldn’t be complete without it.

Now I grew up eating the jellied cranberry sauce that pops out of the can with the ripples on the sides and slides around the plate when you try to slice it. And I loved every minute of it until I realized…

Most canned cranberry sauce is filled with an absolute health abomination: high fructose corn syrup.

The ingredients in a very popular canned cranberry sauce are as follows:

  • Cranberries
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Water
  • Corn Syrup

Yep, half of the ingredients are corn syrup.

WARNING: I’m about to go on a little high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) rant. HFCS is (sadly) the #1 source of calories in the average American’s diet right now. It can be found in everything from bacon to beer. This is a travesty since it wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels. Since it metabolizes so quickly (much more quickly than any natural-found sugar), it results in nasty blood sugar spikes that exhaust the pancreas and the adrenals. It has also been shown to interfere with key enzymes that are very important to the health of the pancreas and liver, and play a role in promoting “leaky gut”. To add insult to injury, most HFCS (corn syrup generally) is made with GMO corn.

Luckily, cranberry sauce is so ridiculously easy to make… and delicious!

Knowing what I do now about HFCS, it is not something I want to consume. Not even on a holiday (trust me, I like to treat myself on holidays and don’t really restrict my diet) or for the nostalgia of those rippled can indentations.

I chose to sweeten my homemade cranberry sauce with local honey. While honey does of course contain natural sugars, I figure the sauce will be consumed with protein and fats which will balance it out. (As a side note, I did also try a recipe with stevia, which has no effect on blood sugar, but did not like the taste.)

homemade jellied and whole berry cranberry sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce with honey:

Ingredients: (Makes about 16 oz.)

  • 1 12 oz. bag of cranberries
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 orange
  • 1/4-1/2 cup honey (depending on your preference)

Directions: Whole-berry

Juice the orange directly into a medium-sized pot. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the cranberries and honey. Allow to simmer for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will hear the berries pop! open. Your sauce is now complete! Carefully pour it into a heat-proof bowl or jar and put it in the refrigerator to set.

Directions: Jellied

[Same as above] Juice the orange directly into a medium-sized pot. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the cranberries and honey. Allow to simmer for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will hear the berries pop! open.

Strain the jellied sauce from the berry skins and seeds using a mesh sieve: place the sieve over a heat-proof bowl and push down on the mixture using a spatula (this will force the jellied sauce though the sieve into the bowl). Jar the jellied sauce and put it in the refrigerator to set. You can either discard the leftover skins and seeds, or use them as a thick cranberry compote (there’s bound to be someone around the table who’s interested so why waste it!?).

homemade cranberry sauce recipe with honey

Enjoy and have a happy holiday!

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  1. I’ve read that honey should not be cooked. Anything to that? I make a similar recipe, but with sugar now. I’m wondering if boiling the berries in the juice/water and then as they cool a bit stir in the honey would work?

  2. I totally agree with you about the HFCS! My mother has been making homemade cranberry sauce for several years now, and it’s delicious- it also has a more “wholesome” taste to it (I’m not a fan of the chemical-y taste processed foods have. Now that I’m accustomed to real food, the other stuff just tastes quite unappealing.) The recipe she uses is very similar to yours, except without the orange – I definitely have to try it like that! 🙂
    @Melinda: You could probably extend how long it would stay fresh by canning it in the traditional way.

  3. Great question! To play it safe, I’d consume it within 5 days. (And of course, make sure your jars are clean to prevent molding).