This vegan cranberry sauce recipe is made with apples for lots of flavor and some natural sweetness. It creates a thick sauce with a jam-like texture that’s perfect for any roast dinner or holiday meal.
Its slightly tart compared to canned cranberry sauces, but you can add extra sugar to your liking. It’s easy to modify the recipe’s sweetness to get your ideal cranberry sauce flavor!
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Is Cranberry Sauce Vegan?
Most homemade cranberry sauce recipes are vegan as are most canned or store-bought options.
Some people wonder if gelled cranberry sauce is made with gelatin (a non-vegan ingredient) but this often is not the case. Cranberries are naturally high in a type of fiber called pectin which easily thickens cranberry sauce. It’s best to always read labels though, as you just never know.
Another concern with cranberry sauce is the sugar. Depending on your personal views, some vegans avoid sugar as it may be processed with bone char. Other vegans are okay with consuming sugar to avoid being overly restrictive with their eating.
Whether granulated sugar is processed with bone char or not often depends on brand and where the sugar comes from. Certain brands no longer use bone char, making the sugar vegan.
If bone char is a concern for you, cranberry sauce is very easy to make at home and you can select a sugar option that works for your preferences.
Vegan Apple Cranberry Sauce Ingredients
This recipe uses just a few ingredients and lets the natural cranberry flavor shine through! To make cranberry sauce with apples, you need:
- Cranberries: Start with fresh or frozen cranberries. Frozen cranberries take a bit longer to cook but work perfectly for this recipe if you can’t find fresh ones.
- Apples: A couple apples add nice subtle flavor to this cranberry sauce and provide natural sweetness.
- Granulated sugar: While the apples offer some sweetness, cranberries are so tart that I need additional sugar for a delicious flavor. I’ve only made this with regular/granulated sugar, but other sugar substitutes should work okay. Just remember that whatever you use may flavor the sauce (for example, maple syrup adds a maple flavor to the sauce).
- Water: To get the sauce to the right texture, use some water or other type of liquid (see ideas below). Cranberries are very high in pectin and create a very thick, jam-like texture in this recipe.
- Salt: Some salt enhances the flavors of this recipe. Feel free to add some black pepper too if you like!
How to Make Vegan Cranberry Sauce
This recipe is incredibly easy to make and doesn’t take much time or effort. Just add all the ingredients to a pot, cook and serve!
Step 1: Add Ingredients to Pot
Add cranberries to a medium sized sauce pot. Peel and dice apple, then add it to the pot along with sugar, water and salt.
Smaller pieces of apple are best for this recipe as they break down more quickly. Unless you want large pieces of apples in your sauce, I recommend chopping them finely. The type of apple you use also determines how quickly or how well it’ll break down into the sauce.
Step 2: Cook and Serve
Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium low. Simmer the cranberry sauce until it’s thickened, and the apples and cranberries have broken down into a nice sauce texture. This takes about 10 minutes and it’s helpful to use your spoon to slightly mush the cranberries and apples as they cook.
Throughout the cooking time, stir the sauce regularly.
If you want a warm sauce, serve after letting it cool for 10 minutes. Otherwise, chill it in the fridge and serve cold.
Cranberry Sauce Variations
There are plenty of ways to make cranberry sauce and the benefit of making a homemade recipe is flavoring it how you like!
This recipe is very basic in terms of ingredients and makes a classic-tasting sauce. If you’re looking to spice things up, consider adding one of the following:
- Ginger (fresh or ground/dry)
- A splash of spiced rum
- Lemon zest
- Orange zest
- Orange juice, in place of the water
- Apple juice, in place of the water (or apple cider)
- Pears instead of apples
There are also more unique ways to flavor cranberry sauce including:
- Spice it with chili peppers
- Add other warming spices like cloves, black pepper, allspice, mace
- Use figs instead of apples and add a splash of balsamic vinegar
- Red wine instead of water
- Crystalized ginger for a sweet and spiced flavor
- Cherries in place of the apples
- A splash of vanilla extract to bring flavors together
How to Refrigerate and Freeze Leftovers
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can easily freeze this recipe in any freezer-safe container for up to a few months.
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Vegan Cranberry Sauce (with Apples)
- 3 cups cranberries* (345 grams)
- 1 ½ cups apple , peeled and diced (180 grams)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (80 grams)
- ¾ cup water (190 milliliters)
- ¼ teaspoon salt , or to taste
Step 1: Add Ingredients to Pot
- Peel and dice the apple. Smaller pieces of apple are better as they cook faster and will break down into the sauce easily.1 ½ cups apple
- Add all ingredients to a medium sized pot.3 cups cranberries*, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, ¾ cup water, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 ½ cups apple
Step 2: Cook and Serve
- Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium low and cook the cranberry sauce until it’s thickened (stirring regularly). This takes about 10 minutes after the sauce is brought to a boil.
- Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning/ sugar to your liking.
- To serve the sauce hot, cool for 10 minutes then serve. Otherwise, chill in the fridge and serve cold.
More Vegan Sauce and Dressing Recipes
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.