Homemade Cranberry Sauce

There is nothing like eating real cranberry sauce during the holidays. I think that for many people the idea of a a canned jelly sounds more appealing than eating something that is homemade. If you are the type who looks forward to the holidays because of the canned cranberry sauce, bear with me and do yourself a favor and just try it. If you don’t like it you can go back to your canned cranberry sauce. No judgment. Okay, maybe a little judgment.

I came across this recipe back in 2011 when I asked an acupuncturist friend of mine if she had any recommendations for homemade cranberry sauce. I had just graduated from my masters program and I was determined to host Thanksgiving dinner for the first time and make everything from scratch. My friend is also a Chinese herbalist and she shared this recipe with me with the hopes that would see the light and incorporate more fresh herbs and spices into my cooking. This recipe opened my eyes to the health benefits of cooking with fresh food and made me realize that I don’t have to feel bloated after a holiday meal if I make it with real and fresh ingredients that are good for my health.

After making the recipe for the first time I was hooked and I have continued to make it for every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner ever since. It is incredibly easy to make and tastes so much better that the canned stuff. I promise!

Ingredients and health benefits:

Cranberries (2 bags): Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C, fiber and vitamin E. Cranberries also contain vitamin K, manganese and a large array of phytonutrients, naturally occurring plant chemicals that help to protect the body from harmful free radicals and offer anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventing properties. Cranberries are also famously known for their ability to make urine more acidic which helps prevent bacteria growth in the bladder.

Raisins (1 Cup): Health benefits of raisins include relief from constipation, acidosis, anemia, and fever. Raisins have also been known to help in attempts to gain weight in a healthy way, as well as its positive impact on eye health, dental care, and bone quality.

Juice of 2 Oranges: Fresh orange juice is the richest source of vitamin C and fulfills an entire day’s worth of vitamin C in just one serving. Chock full of useful minerals like potassium and magnesium, orange juice is also very low in fat and contains no cholesterol whatsoever. It is an anti-inflammatory and contains beta carotene that can help prevent cell damage. Orange juice has quite a bit of calcium in it which helps promote bone health and strengthen teeth. 

Orange zest (1 tsp): Contains a higher dietary fiber and fresh orange zest provides 136 mg per 100 g of vitamin C.

Fresh grated ginger (1-2 tsp): Some people find ginger helps them with the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, cough, menstrual cramps, arthritis and muscle pain. Ginger contains a chemical that is used as an ingredient in antacid, laxative and anti-gas medications. It is great for stomach pain and helps prevent against stomach and colon cancer.

Cinnamon stick (1-2): Cassia cinnamon may lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.  Studies of cinnamon show that it is great for lowering cholesterol and treating yeast infections. In addition, cinnamon may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria.

1/2 cup of water

Mulling spices (whole cloves, nutmeg, allspice berries)*

 Honey or a dash of agave to taste

*To infuse the cranberry sauce with the taste of the mulling spices you can use a tea bag mesh or you can leave the spices in depending on your preference.  If you don’t have the whole spice you can use the ground spices.


Bring cranberries and 1/2 cup water to a gentle simmer. The berries will begin to open and pop open with the heat. Keep stirring because they can burn easily. As you continue stirring you may need to add the other 1/2 cup of water. Squeeze juice on top, stir and add the raisins. Let raisins soak and continue stirring slowly over a low heat. Add ginger, cinnamon and spices and let it all simmer slowly as you continue stirring and making sure that the berries to not burn. Finish up with the zest of the orange and some honey to taste. Stir well. If you used the tea bag mesh make sure you remove it before serving.

Cooking time is about 15-20 minutes

Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!