Clean Eating Cranberry Sauce

Begin the avalanche of clean Thanksgiving recipes.

Trader Joe's cranberries

And memories of that one time I thought I’d eat a bowl of fresh cranberries like a fruit salad. Don’t ever do that.

Aren’t they pretty?


While I definitely think there’s a time and place for splurging and saving, Thanksgiving is high on the live-it-up factor. I look forward to cornucopia of pie offerings, fluffy mashed potato, and savory turkey. I thought I’d share some of my favorite homemade, clean Thanksgiving recipes over the next week. This isn’t an attempt to cover up the full goodness glory of the holiday, but rather to provide whole homemade options instead of the usual store-bought stuff. While I’ll be the first to tell you I like when my cranberry sauce has ridges from the can, there’s something truly amazing about homemade sauce.

Homemade cranberry sauce

No funky ingredients, and a bright flavor from orange zest. It’s super easy to make, and while it’s delicious on protein for a sweet/savory kick, it’s especially wonderful on pumpkin pancakes.

cranberry sauce with pancakes

Here’s how to make it.

clean eating cranberry sauce


Clean Eating Cranberry Sauce


  • 2 bags fresh cranberries (8oz each)
  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • Sweetener of choice (Stevia, honey, maple syrup, canned crushed pineapple, sucanat)


  1. Rinse cranberries.
  2. Zest orange and set zest aside.
  3. Place cranberries in a large pot on medium low heat.
  4. Juice orange over cranberries.
  5. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of water, vanilla extract, salt and orange zest.
  6. Cook for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the berries pop and soften.
  7. Wait until you have the texture you like–I like some whole cranberries still–then add your sweetener of choice.
  8. Just like any sauce, it tastes better the next day! Store covered in the fridge.


Squeezing an orange over cranberries


To serve this with pancakes, either try this traditional recipe (the Pilot’s favorite) or my favorite protein pancakes with 1 large tablespoon pumpkin puree and 1/2 t pumpkin spice mixed in.

Hope you enjoy!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving or comfort food? Any clean versions of classic favorites that you love? Please link away in the comments section!

For me, it’s all about the stuffing. I loooove this cranberry quinoa version.

Hope you have a wonderful day <3



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  1. Paula on November 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Homemade cranberry sauce is totally my jam (pun intended). I wish cranberries were easier to get the rest of the year!

  2. Anna @ Your Healthy Place on November 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve been spoilt, as my British mom would never let us buy cranberry sauce already made – only ever from scratch! Traditionally she used white sugar but lately I’ve got her into making it with agave or maple syrup for a naturally sweetened version and it doesn’t change the taste at all. Delicious! But yeah, I wouldn’t go for a bowl of cranberries as fruit salad! Haha, makes my jaw hurt just thinking about it with the sourness!

  3. FitBritt@MyOwnBalance on November 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I love my mom’s traditional cranberry sauce. I think it is very similar to your recipe. She also adds orange zest. I love the idea of pairing it with pancakes. I never thought of that before!

  4. Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat on November 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    I never thought to add it to pumpkin pancakes. I think I just found my new favorite fall breakfast!

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      it’s SO good 🙂

  5. purelytwins on November 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    we need to make this to add to our Thanksgiving menu looks and sounds wonderful!!

  6. Ashley on November 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for this recipe! Im planning to make some healthier dishes for thanksgiving to bring to our dinner, not because I plan on a super healthy thanksgiving but just so that there are healthy options to balance out the fact that I will probably eat 3 slices of pie.

  7. Renae H. on November 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    In the last few years, my mom started making a cranberry fruit salad (cranberries already cooked down!). She adds to it fresh apples, canned pears, and canned mandarins. I eat bowls of it during Thanksgiving dinner and then eat leftovers for breakfast!!

  8. Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run on November 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    cranberry sauce on pancakes or waffles sounds heavenly!

  9. Abi@AbsofSteel on November 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    I’ve been making cranberry sauce homemade for the last couple thanksgivings (so much better than canned!) so I might have to try this version, it looks delicious!

  10. Erika on November 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    LOL re: eating the cranberries like a fruit salad!

  11. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun on November 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    This is perfect! I will use this during our small husband and myself’s thanksgiving dinner next week!

  12. Livi on November 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Delish!! I can’t wait for Thanksgiving!!

  13. Nicole on November 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I love the canned cranberry sauce, but I’ve heard homemade is good also, maybe I’ll try it this year! I love the idea with putting pineapple with it!

  14. Holly G. on November 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I’ve definitely tried to eat raw cranberries, too…lesson learned 🙂 Thanks for the simple, delicious-looking recipe!

  15. Melodie on November 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    mmmmm. I’m going to try it! One recipe that I made a few times last year during the holiday season was this cranberry cream cheese dip. Below is a link to the recipe. It was a hit with everyone! And I can’t wait to make it again this year.

  16. Christie @ on November 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Yumm! I’ll definitely need to try this recipe for Thanksgiving.

  17. Jen@PregnantDiabetic on November 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Oh man, I am all over this recipe! I have been looking for an easy, delicious cranberry recipe. Found! Thanks 🙂

  18. Alex @ Kenzie Life on November 20, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Cranberry sauce is without a doubt my favorite part of Thanksgiving! I love a citrus twist in it and this Thanksgiving I’m making a relish with crystallized ginger as well to kind of balance out the sweetness and give it another dimension. Sadly I don’t have a link yet, but soon!

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      send it to me when you do! that sounds incredible

  19. Ali on November 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    I loooove homemade cranberry sauce but I’m the only person in my family who does. How long do you find that this lasts in the fridge – or have you tried freezing it?

  20. Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs on November 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    You know, I’ve only ever had canned cranberry sauce — time to change that! 🙂

  21. Amanda on November 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    I LOVE homemade cranberry sauce. I especially love it for breakfast on Black Friday. I top my almond butter toast with cranberry sauce and I’m powered up to shop for hours!!

  22. Lauren @Will Run for Boston on November 20, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Oh my goodness! I’ve never thought of putting cranberry sauce on pancakes! That sounds delicious!

  23. Kim Cantrell on November 21, 2013 at 1:20 am

    I can’t wait to try this recipe for Thanksgiving. We were looking to jazz up our otherwise boring recipe. Thank you! Yum!

  24. lotte on November 21, 2013 at 3:24 am

    that looks delicious! definitely gonna try out the recipe

  25. Lilly on November 21, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I’m pretty excited for this clean eating thanksgiving series, thanks! I make cranberries very similarly to your recipe, but haven’t added vanilla in the past, I will def try that this year!

  26. Britt on November 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I’m a sucker for mashed potatoes, it’s one of the few times in the year that I really enjoy them. I’ve substituted almond milk and earth balance for the milk and butter before, still delicious!

  27. amybtwink on November 21, 2013 at 11:40 am

    This looks delish! My husband and my girls like the canned stuff, so I never really make it fresh. This year, I am thinking of making it after the holiday to keep in a jelly jar in the fridge. I can indulge in the sweet-tart relish anytime I want =)

  28. Kelly @ Kelly Runs for Food on November 21, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    This looks delicious! My favorite Thanksgiving recipe is sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows on top).

  29. Emilly on November 23, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Looks very delicious, thank you for this great recipe.

  30. Kristie Higgs on November 24, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    My two part, super clean and delicious PIE CRUST!!

    • Fitnessista on November 24, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      i can’t wait to check this out!

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