Sweet and slightly tart, this delicious Vegan Cranberry Sauce is far superior to store-bought versions and the perfect addition to any holiday plate. Whether you’re hosting a vegan feast or bringing a vegan option to a shared table, you’ll definitely want to make this 20 minute holiday dish.
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Hey Internet, are you into cranberry sauce? I actually grew up with cranberry chutney, a sweet and crunchy version with veggies and some spices because that’s what my mom made.
But I wanted to try a more traditional (but vegan of course) version. So I made regular old cranberry sauce.
And it was pretty good. But you know me, I’ve gotta make some customizations.
I missed that crunchy element but didn’t necessarily want onions and celery in it. So I tried adding diced apples (cran-apple juice is one of my favorite juices!) and dang, that was good!
And I added some orange juice which brightens all the flavors--and my goodness, citrus and cranberry are lovely together.
So yes, this vegan cranberry sauce is delicious, yes it’s easy to make, and it only has 6 ingredients so it’s likely one of the most simple things on your holiday table this year.
And yeah, I know it’s pretty easy to just pick up a canned or jarred cranberry sauce but homemade is SO much better. You can also customize the sweetness level, add the much-needed apples and orange juice, and control how thin or thick you like your cranberry sauce.
This is a great dish to make up to 4 days before Thanksgiving to save work on the actual day.
Oh, and if you love cranberries as much as I do, you might also be interested in these vegan cranberry chocolate chip muffins.
What You’ll Need
- Orange juice: Fresh squeezed or carton is fine. If going with carton OJ, make sure it doesn’t have added vitamin D--that’s often not vegan.
- Organic cane sugar and Light brown sugar or coconut sugar: A mix of sugars makes for the best flavor, but feel free to use your preferred sweetener. If you don’t want to use refined sugar, try coconut sugar or date sugar. If you’re using a liquid sweetener, I’d use less water or orange juice to make sure the vegan cranberry sauce reduces properly.
- Cranberries: Fresh are best but frozen work fine too! Make sure to rinse and pick through your cranberries--toss any mushy ones.
- Apple: Any apple works fine here--I used a rave aple--a sweet but slight tart variety. My mom thought granny smith would go well here for more tart flavor. But go with what you like/have.
How to Customize This Recipe
Believe it or not, there are lots of ways to customize this recipe for vegan cranberry sauce. Here’s a few ideas I had:
- Swap the chopped apples for sliced grapes, chopped orange segments, or other fruit.
- Add raisins or another dried fruit (they’ll get plump and delicious in the sauce).
- Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt for a little more depth of flavor.
- Try a splash of vanilla extract -- or orange extract (be careful with this as it’s quite strong. Start with a quarter teaspoon.
- Add chopped toasted pecans.
- Serve with chopped mint sprinkled on top.
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end.
- Try pureeing it to make it a silky sauce.
How to Make Vegan Cranberry Sauce
- Add the water, juice, and both sugars to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. You want the sugars to dissolve.
- Meanwhile, rinse and pick through the cranberries, discarding any mushy ones. Peel your apple and dice it finely.
- Add the cranberries and apple and stir, then lower the heat to medium low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may want to use a splatter screen because the cranberries can splatter as they burst.
- After 15 or 20 minutes and all of the cranberries have burst, your sauce will be somewhat thickened. It will also thicken in the fridge.
- Optional step: if you like your sauce completely smooth, you can use an immersion blender in the pot, or carefully transfer the mixture to your countertop blender and puree until smooth.
- Serve warm or cold, and definitely with a seitan turkey, vegan meatloaf, lentil loaf, or whatever vegan holiday dishes you have planned.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5-6 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Can You Make Cranberry Sauce Ahead of Time?
Absolutely, in fact the flavors develop a bit in the fridge and the sauce also thickens as it cools, so you could definitely make it up to 3-4 days ahead of time.
To serve, bring the sauce to room temperature (or warm on the stove if you prefer a warm cranberry sauce.
If it’s gotten too thick, mix in a little water to thin.
How to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce
This is a small batch, but if you find you have leftovers I can think of a few ways to use it up.
It would also be great instead of lingonberry jam with my vegan Swedish meatballs.
Oh, and it would be great as the glaze on my vegan ham instead of the apricot. Yum!
It would also be great on top of some vegan blintzes! I have that recipe in my Plant Based Jewish Recipes e-book.
More Vegan Thanksgiving and Holiday Sides
- Vegan Green Bean Casserole
- Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole
- Pumpkin Risotto
- Vegan Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy or Mushroom-Free Vegan Gravy
- Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
- Pumpkin Curry
- Vegan Creamed Kale
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This Vegan Cranberry Sauce is:
- And perfect for a holiday table.
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!