Homemade Cranberry Sauce without Orange Juice

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Cranberry sauce in a white bowl with white pumpkins in the background

This fresh cranberry sauce without orange juice, or any citrus, is still lovely, sweet, and tart. It’s easy to make in one pot and is finished in about 20 minutes, with most of that time being hands-off.

cranberry sauce in a white bowl on a towel with a gold spoon and white pumpkins

Why Cranberry Sauce?

Both of my moms (real mom and MIL) adore cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing or what, but they’re typically the only ones to put it on the plate while the rest of us are beelining for the gravy and green bean casserole. Because of this, for a few years, my mom resorted to buying the canned stuff that plops out into a bowl and just kinda wiggles around….ew.

Thankfully I love my mom and know she deserves better so I’ll usually try to whip up a small batch of this just for her. That’s when I discovered how incredibly easy it is to make at home. Here are all the steps.

1. Dump cranberries in a pot, top with sugar and liquid(s).
2. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Let it cool.

THAT’S IT! Why on earth would anyone buy the canned stuff?! Unless you really are ready for that jelly.

cranberry sauce ingredients in a pot
I added a little jalapeño to mine for a dip that I’m sharing later!

Why Cranberry Sauce without the Orange Juice?

As most of us know, citrus is a lesser known potential migraine trigger. Thankfully I was able to reintroduce most of it back into my diet, but orange juice still gives me issues. I actually think I have a legitimate food allergy to it because it’s always made me sick after I drink it, even before my migraine disorder began.

But when searching for recipes online, literally every cranberry sauce recipe contains orange juice. I figure there’s got to be someone (most likely a mom) out there that will appreciate a cranberry sauce recipe without orange juice.

Other Uses for Cranberry Sauce

So I actually made this recipe for a dip which I plan on posting later, hence the chopped jalapeños in it. You definitely don’t have to add jalapeños to yours if you love a super traditional recipe, but I find they add a nice kick.

If you make this for mom and have a ton of leftovers, I recommend using it for some of these recipes.

  • On a baguette or toast with goat cheese and chives as an easy holiday appetizer.
  • For a spread on a turkey or chicken sandwich.
  • As a breakfast “jam” on toast.
  • Creamy Cranberry Dip (recipe to come on The Dizzy Cook!)

If you love cranberry sauce, please let me know in the comments as I bet this will be one of my least popular recipes…except for you, mom!

This perfectly sweet and tart cranberry sauce is made without orange juice for a lovely citrus-free twist that’s vegan. Also get some ideas for how to use leftover cranberry sauce in other dishes!

cranberry sauce being boiled in a pot with a wooden spoon

a bowl of cranberry sauce next to a gold spoon

5 from 1 vote
Cranberry sauce in a white bowl with white pumpkins in the background
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
17 mins

A simple recipe that doesn't use any citrus or orange juice. Adjust the sweetness level to whatever suits you best!

Course: Condiment, Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cranberry Sauce without Orange Juice, Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 80 kcal
Author: The Dizzy Cook
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate cherry juice (POM)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (or more to taste)
  1. Combine the cranberries, juice, water, and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until thickened. Placing a wooden spoon over the pot can help the mixture not bubble over.

    cranberry sauce being boiled in a pot with a wooden spoon
  2. Taste and adjust the sugar level to your liking. I prefer mine more tart so 1/3 cup is perfect. My mom prefers it sweeter, closer to 1/2 cup of sugar. Store in the fridge or serve warm.

Recipe Notes
  • You can make this refined sugar free by adding maple syrup or honey instead of sugar (or really any sugar substitute you like).
  • I like POM brand of pomegranate cherry juice, but you can use all cherry juice or all pomegranate juice. 
  • For a southwestern flair, add 1 small chopped jalapeño that's been deseeded. 
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Amount Per Serving (4 oz)
Calories 80 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 4mg0%
Potassium 93mg3%
Carbohydrates 21g7%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 16g18%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 34IU1%
Vitamin C 8mg10%
Calcium 7mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Alicia was diagnosed with Chronic Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and has been able to successfully manage her symptoms through medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, and the Heal Your Headache Diet by Dr. David Buchholz from Johns Hopkins. She's the owner of The Dizzy Cook.


  1. Anonymous

    I used to hate cranberry sauce as a kid because we always had the canned stuff. Now I love it when it’s homemade! I put some on each turkey bite for a nice contrast of sweet/savory. Thanks for the recipe!


  2. Anonymous

    This sounds delicious! I love adding apples to my cranberries to contrast the tart with some sweet.


  3. Anonymous

    Alicia, thank you so much for posting this recipe! You made my day. It’s my first Thanksgiving with a VM diagnosis (just getting started on the HYH diet) and I LOVE cranberry sauce. I could not find a cranberry recipe without citrus and it was bumming me out. I can’t wait to try this – I’ll report back!


    1. Linda

      5 stars
      Yummy 😋 I grew up in cranberry country and have always made my own cranberry sauce. I’m vegan and eat it on everything all winter long! On tofu loaf, sandwiches, oatmeal… Everything tastes better with cranberry sauce! Thank you for a migraine safe recipe 💕


      1. Alicia

        So glad you enjoyed it, Linda!


  4. Claire Newman

    We all love cranberry in my family for the turkey. How long do you think this would keep? Just wondering how far ahead it could be made 😃


    1. Alicia

      I’d say 2 days at the most! I hope you enjoy it. 🙂


  5. Sandi

    Thank you so much for the recipe! I have struggled with migraines for a long time, and I have recently begun following the migraine diet. I can’t wait to try the recipe for my Christmas dinner. My mom, my kids, and I all love cranberries! I can see this as becoming part of our Christmas meal traditions.


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