This vegan cranberry sauce recipe is made with apples for a simple, sweet twist on a classic holiday treat! It’s incredibly easy to make and gluten free so almost anyone can enjoy.
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Are Most Cranberry Sauce Recipes Vegan?
Cranberry sauce is typically made from cranberries, water and sugar. Some sauces add additional ingredients, often other fruit pairings or spices.
This means that many cranberry sauces are vegan friendly; however, it often depends on the sugar used.
Sugar is commonly processed with bone char, an animal product, meaning it isn’t vegan. It’s always best to check for the type of sugar used in any recipe or packaged food to determine if it’s vegan friendly.
Is Canned Cranberry Sauce Vegan?
Canned cranberry sauces vary greatly, but are often made with cranberries, water, sugar (or corn syrup) and possibly a thickening agent.
Thickening agents aren’t often used because cranberries are naturally high in a compound called pectin which thickens the sauce without help!
As a vegan, it’s always best to read the label of a packaged food to be sure something non-vegan, like gelatin, isn’t added. I’ve never seen cranberry sauce thickened with gelatin, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it exists.
The same sugar consideration outlined above holds true for canned cranberry sauces. You’d likely have to check with the manufacturer to find out if the sugar used is vegan.
How to Make a Vegan Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Making cranberry sauce vegan is simple if you can find a vegan brand of sugar. For this recipe I use regular granulated sugar since the major brand of sugar in Canada is vegan!
Cane sugar, brown sugar or even coconut sugar work in this recipe with varying results. Each has a distinct flavor which comes through in the final sauce. Extra granulated sugar may be needed as some alternative sugars may not be as sweet (especially coconut sugar).
Other than sugar, the rest of this recipe is fruit and water! As noted above, there’s no need to thicken cranberry sauce since the fruit is high in pectin which is a natural thickening agent! Just allow the cranberries and apples to cook down and the sauce will thicken on its own.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce Flavor Options
There are a few ways to spice homemade cranberry sauce. This recipe adds apples which is a nice touch as the natural sweetness pairs beautifully with tart cranberries. By using apples you’ll need less added sugar!
However, if you like, substitute the apples for additional cranberries. The sugar amount likely needs to be increased if you do this, but feel free to adjust sugar to your taste preferences.
For a spiced vegan cranberry sauce, consider adding:
- Ginger (fresh or ground)
- A splash of vegan spiced rum
- Some lemon or orange zest
You can also use orange or apple juice in place of water for an additional flavor boost!
Can you Freeze a Homemade Cranberry Sauce?
Yes! This cranberry sauce can be made ahead of time and frozen. Just allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, place into a freezer-safe, air-tight container and freeze for up to 5 months.
To thaw, simply take the sauce out of the freezer and allow to thaw in the fridge overnight. Heat the sauce in a pot over medium-low heat before serving. You can also heat the sauce in a microwave.
How to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce
If you have leftover cranberry sauce, hopefully you’ll also have leftovers from the rest of that epic vegan meal you created!
However, if all you have left is cranberry sauce, my favorite way to use it is in a fruit crisp. Add additional fruit of your choice (frozen fruit works), top with a vegan crumble and bake! Adding additional berries, sliced apples, pears or peaches makes for a delicious dessert.
I hope you enjoy this tasty vegan cranberry sauce with apples at your next holiday meal, or whenever you want a nice vegan dinner!
What will you serve with your homemade vegan cranberry sauce? Comment below to let me know what amazing meal you’re coming up with, and tag @lettucevegout on social media so I can see pictures!
Gluten Free Vegan Cranberry Sauce Recipe with Apples
- Medium-sized Pot
- Cutting Board
- Vegetable Peeler
- 3 C cranberries pitted (can use frozen)
- 1 ½ C apple peeled and finely diced
- ⅓ C granulated sugar
- ¾ C water
- ¼ tsp salt
- Add all ingredients to a medium-sized pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and allow cranberry sauce to simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- The apples should break down (unless they were cut in large pieces) and the cranberries should soften and begin to break apart. The sauce thickens as the fruit cooks.
- Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning (sugar and salt) to your taste preferences.
- Once the sauce is thick, allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.