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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Cranberry Sauce From Dried Cranberries

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A simple, 20 minute, delicious homemade cranberry sauce from dried cranberries is perfect for your holiday table or Thanksgiving dinner. This quick sauce is made with a little bit of orange and spices and is sweet, juicy, and so easy to make. It is the best homemade cranberry sauce recipe and one of my favorite cranberry recipes!

Cranberry sauce made from dried cranberries in a small white serving dish.

One of the best things during the holidays is fresh cranberry sauce. But not when fresh cranberries are out of season or hard to come by! That’s why this dried cranberry recipe is such a great thing! With less sugar, this easy cranberry sauce recipe is perfect all year round, not just in the fall season!

The holidays are a time of year when we love whipping up some delicious cranberry sauce from scratch. This easy homemade cranberry sauce using dried cranberries is the perfect way to add a punch of tart-sweet flavor to your holiday meal and beyond. It tastes just like fresh cranberry sauce – no one will be able to tell the difference!

With this easy dried cranberry sauce recipe, you’ll have a beautiful ruby-red sauce ready in just 20 minutes – no need to wait for fresh berries to soften. The best recipe for cranberry relish!

I hope you’ll give this healthy cranberry sauce recipe a try this holiday season. Let me know if you have any other favorite cranberry sauce variations or serving ideas. Read on for the full instructions and tips for making the best cranberry sauce with dried cranberries for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner! Enjoy and happy holidays!

👩🏽‍🍳 Why This Recipe Works

  • Quick Prep: This healthy cranberry sauce using dried cranberries comes together in just 20 minutes – no waiting for fresh cranberries to soften.
  • Year-Round Access: Dried cranberries give you tart cranberry flavor any time of year.
  • Bright Flavor: Orange juice and zest provide a tangy citrus note that complements the cranberries.
  • Easy Recipe: Simply simmer everything together in one saucepan for easy prep.
  • Versatile: Use this cranberry sauce made with dried cranberries in both sweet and savory dishes and beyond the holidays.
  • Low Sugar: Most cranberry sauces are filled with tons of sugar – one serving of pre-made / canned cranberry sauce can run up to 22 grams of sugar! But thanks to the unsweetened dried cranberries in this recipe, you can have this classic holiday side dish for only about 5 grams of sugar per serving!
  • Flexible Recipe: Easily customize with different sweeteners, spices, mix-ins, and more. Make a double batch with no extra effort!

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🥘 Ingredients List

If you’re wondering “What is in cranberry sauce?”, check the ingredients out here! This recipe for cranberry sauce with dried cranberries comes together with just a few basic ingredients that allow the fabulous flavor of the cranberries to shine:

Ingredients for the dried cranberry sauce laid out in small ceramic dishes on a white background.
  • Dried Cranberries: Using dried cranberries gives you year-round access to cranberries. The drying process concentrates their vibrant flavor and color. When plumped up during cooking, they provide the same great texture as fresh cranberries. I prefer unsweetened dried cranberries and add just a small amount of sugar.
  • Orange Juice & Orange Zest: Freshly squeezed orange juice and bright orange zest provides a hint of orange flavor that perfectly balances out the natural tartness of the cranberries in this low calorie cranberry sauce. You can use orange juice bought from the grocery store as well.
  • Brown Sugar: Just a bit of brown sugar sweetens the sauce lightly. Feel free to increase the sugar content to taste. A pinch of salt can also help bring out the sweetness of the cranberry sauce.
  • Cranberry Juice: Pure unsweetened cranberry juice concentrate boosts the rich cranberry taste in this low sugar cranberry sauce.
  • Cornstarch: A cornstarch and water slurry at the end helps thicken the sauce to the ideal silky, glossy texture.

🍲 Substitutions

  • Berry Swap: If you’re looking for a good substitute for dried cranberries, use an equal amount of other dried berries. Dried cherries, raisins, currants, or chopped dates are all great options for a flavor twist on this recipe for cranberry sauce using dried cranberries.
  • Citrus Switch: Substitute lemon juice, lime, or grapefruit juice for the orange juice to change up the flavor profile. Apple juice can also be used in a pinch!
  • Sweeteners: Replace the brown sugar with maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar for an alternative natural sweetness. White sugar is also perfect.
  • Spice It Up: Omit the orange zest and add a little bit of of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom for warmth instead of citrus. Cinnamon sticks are a lovely addition to the fresh homemade cranberry sauce.
  • Thickener Swap: Use tapioca starch or arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch if needed for dietary reasons.

🔪 How To Make Cranberry Sauce From Dried Cranberries

Making homemade cranberry sauce with dried cranberries couldn’t be easier, it’s such a simple recipe! With just a few simple ingredients and a quick stove-top method, you’ll have beautiful ruby-red sauce ready in 15 minutes using dried cranberries for cranberry sauce. Follow our step-by-step instructions below!

Add to Saucepan: Combine dried cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften and reconstitute the dried cranberries.

Adding the ingredients for the cranberry sauce to a large metal pot.

Cook Sauce: Stir in the cranberry juice. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat in a small saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries are plump and sauce has reduced slightly.

Mixing together the cranberry sauce in a large metal pot.

Thicken Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water to make a smooth slurry. Stir slurry into simmering sauce. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened to desired consistency.

Adding cornstarch to the cranberry sauce to thicken it up.

Allow To Cool & Serve: Remove pan from heat. Allow sauce to cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a serving dish. Serve this vegan cranberry sauce with your favorite holiday foods. It’s perfect for spooning over holiday main dishes, or you can use it in sandwiches as a sweet spread. Feel free to also serve this sauce with some cheese and crackers for a holiday-inspired cheese board! 

Thickened cranberry sauce on a green spatula.

💭 Expert Tips

  • Silky Texture: For a silky smooth sauce, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce once it has cooled slightly after cooking. Adjust the consistency as desired by blending for more or less time.
  • No Clumps: Use very cold water when mixing together the cornstarch slurry. This helps prevent clumping and ensures the sauce thickens evenly.
  • Adjust Sweetness: If using pre-sweetened dried cranberries, omit the brown sugar. Then taste and adjust the sweetness by adding sugar as needed. For an extra sweet sauce, increase the brown sugar to 1/3 cup or more based on your preferences. Add a little at a time until the sweetness tastes right to you.
  • Custom Consistency: For a thinner sauce, stir in additional tablespoons of cranberry juice until it reaches your desired consistency. Add it slowly and taste as you go.
  • Clean Transfer: Let the finished cranberry sauce cool for 5-10 minutes before blending or transferring it to airtight containers. This helps prevent splattering for the cleanest results.

📖 Flavor Variations

  • Ginger Zing: Add 1-2 tsp freshly grated ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger to this cranberry sauce from dried cranberries recipe. They are both a great addition to give this sauce a little spicy kick!
  • Fruity Flavors: Use apple, pineapple, pomegranate, or other fruit juices instead of orange juice to create different flavor profiles.
  • Sweeten It Up: Stir in 1-2 tsp maple syrup or honey if you want to add more sweetness without adding more refined sugar.
  • Crunchy Texture: Mix in 1/4 cup chopped toasted nuts like pecans, walnuts, or almonds for some crunch.
  • Warm Spices: Add a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or allspice to give the sauce some subtle spice flavors.
  • Boozy Twist: Swirl in 1-2 tbsp Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or other orange liqueur for a sophisticated sauce with even more flavor. 
  • Berries Throughout: For whole berry sauce, stir in 1/4 cup of reserved dried cranberries after thickening to distribute them evenly.
  • Keto: In order to make this a keto friendly cranberry sauce, sub the coconut sugar and maple syrup for a keto friendly sweetener like stevia or monk fruit, and use keto friendly orange and cranberry juices!

👨‍👩‍👧 Serving Suggestions

I love serving this cranberry sauce recipe with dried cranberries for our Thanksgiving meal because it’s a great way to add a lovely pop of color and delicious tart and sweet flavor to the table. Store-bought canned cranberry sauce just doesn’t compare to the bright flavor of cranberry sauce made from scratch. Here are some more serving suggestions:

  • Meat Dishes: The tangy sweetness of this sauce pairs well with poultry like turkey, chicken, and Cornish hens, or with pork dishes including ham, pork chops, and pork roasts. To keep this recipe vegan friendly, you can also serve this over vegan turkey, vegan meatloaf, tofu meatballs, or vegan schnitzel.
  • Cheese Board: Cheeses like brie, cheddar, havarti and gouda also benefit from the addition of this fruity sauce. Check out my guide on how to make the perfect vegetarian cheese board using your favorite cheeses and flavors! Baked brie and cranberry sauce is a match made in heaven. 
  • Sandwich Spread: Cranberry sauce can also be used in sandwiches for a flavorful spread in place of plain mayo or mustard. Pair it with my creamy tofu cream cheese for a sandwich you won’t easily forget! 
  • Sweet Servings: Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy drizzling cranberry sauce over pancakes, waffles, French toast, oatmeal, and breakfast fruit bowls. Adding a swirl to ice cream sundaes takes them to the next level. It can also be used as a topping for cakes, muffins, scones, and other baked goods.

🫙 Storage Directions

In the Fridge: Store leftover cranberry sauce in an airtight container (like a mason jar) in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature before storing. If it becomes too thick while cooling, add a tablespoon of water to thin it out a little.

❓Recipe FAQs

What is the thickening agent for cranberry sauce?

The cornstarch slurry added at the end is what gives this cranberry sauce its thick, saucy texture. The cornstarch gradually thickens the sauce as it cooks down. Gelatin or pectin would also yield similar results, but if you use gelatin keep in mind this sauce won’t be vegetarian friendly anymore.

Can I use fresh cranberries instead of dried?

You can, but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time, adding about 5 more minutes for fresh berries to pop and soften. You may also need more sweetener.

What takes the bitterness out of cranberry sauce?

Adding sweetener like brown sugar helps mellow out the tart, bitter notes of the cranberries. The orange juice also helps balance the flavor.

Can I prepare cranberry sauce ahead of time?

Yes, you can make cranberry sauce 1-2 days in advance. Allow it to cool completely before refrigerating in a covered container until ready to serve.

Is cranberry sauce healthy?

Traditional or canned cranberry sauce isn’t healthy as it’s typically loaded with sugars. But this recipe uses less added sugar and unsweetened cranberries for a much healthier cranberry sauce that also tastes amazing! Additionally, cranberries are a superfood that are high in Vitamins C, A, K, Potassium, Calcium and antioxidants.

Rich and delicious cranberry sauce made with dried cranberries in a small white dish.

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Rich and delicious cranberry sauce made with dried cranberries in a small white dish.
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5 from 9 votes

Cranberry Sauce From Dried Cranberries

A simple 20 minute homemade cranberry sauce from dried cranberries with orange and spices for a quick sauce perfect for holiday meals.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Condiment, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Vegan
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Fat, Low Salt, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 20 Servings
Calories: 33kcal
Author: Anjali Shah



  • Combine the dried cranberries, orange juice, orange zest and brown sugar in a pot and mix together.
  • Stir through the cranberry sauce and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes to plump up the cranberries and to reduce the sauce.
  • In a small bowl mix together the corn starch and water until smooth.
  • Pour into the cranberry sauce while continuously stirring.
  • Continue to cook while stirring for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool before serving and enjoying.


  • For a smooth sauce use an immersion blender after the sauce has cooked and cooled. Adjust the smoothness to suit your tastes.
  • Use cold water when mixing the corn starch.
  • If using sweetened dried cranberries reduce the sugar to 2 tbsp.
  • This recipe make approximately 2¼ cups of cranberry sauce.
  • If you prefer a sweeter sauce use ⅓ cup of sugar.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


Serving: 2tbsp | Calories: 33kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 40mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g

16 responses to “Cranberry Sauce From Dried Cranberries”

  1. Your post on making Cranberry Sauce from Dried Cranberries has become a go-to in my kitchen! The straightforward instructions, coupled with the bright, sweet-tart end result, make this a standout recipe. Truly, you’ve turned a simple dish into something special.5 stars

  2. Wow, what is there not to love about this yummy recipe?! This sauce was absolutely delicious with amazing flavor!5 stars

  3. I love this recipe – using dried cranberries means I wont have any leftover cranberries that will go bad this year!5 stars

  4. I love this uses dried cranberries! I like cranberry sauce all year round and the fresh ones aren’t always available.5 stars

  5. We love cranberries and sometimes do not know what to make. Thanks for this great idea about cranberry sauce. It is the best option for me now. 🙂5 stars

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