When you’re a health conscious individual, the winter holidays can be difficult to maneuver through. So many of our traditional holiday dishes (desserts aside) have refined sugar added for extra sweetness. For several years I passed on the roasted squash, the caramelized sweet potatoes, the fruit salads, dressings and yes, even the cranberry sauce!
But after a while, I grew tired of depriving myself and began to learn how to healthier versions of my favorite holiday dishes. And I want to share one of my favorites with you now: a cranberry sauce with honey and elderberry!
Because the turkey just doesn’t taste the same without a side of cranberry sauce.
Ingredient List for Cranberry Sauce with Honey
My cranberry sauce recipe only takes about 15 minutes to whip out on the stove top. Better yet, you can make this sauce several days ahead of time and refrigerate, until you’re ready to serve your holiday meal.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this cranberry sauce with honey and elderberry!
- a 12 oz (340 gm) bag of frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 1/2 cup elderberry juice (orange or pomegranate works well too)
Frozen cranberries can usually be found at your local grocery store or supermarket around the holiday season. And while I love the flavor that elderberry juice brings to this sauce, you can also substitute it for orange or even pomegranate.
Recipe for Cranberry Sauce with Honey and Elderberry
Unlike cranberry sauce from a tin can, homemade cranberry sauce has a rich and fruity flavor than outshines all others! The first time I made it in my own kitchen, I was shocked at the difference.
What had I been missing all my life?!
Really. You haven’t had cranberry sauce until you’ve tried making your own from scratch. It’s an entirely different dish, with a rich and unique flavor that everyone (even cranberry critics) will enjoy!
Here is how you make cranberry sauce with honey and elderberry juice.
Step 1: Measure Cranberries and Fruit Juice Into a Small Pot
To make homemade cranberry sauce, dump your 12 oz bag of frozen cranberries into a stockpot. And here’s a tip for you: use a pot that’s wide vs a pot that’s tall and narrow. With more surface area, your cranberries will both heat and thicken quicker as you cook them down.
You can also measure in your fruit juice at this time. Pour 1/2 a cup over your berries.
Cover the pot with a lid and cook on the stove under medium heat.
Step 2: Cook Cranberries Until They Split
Cranberries will take several minutes to warm up. When the juices start bubbling in the bottom of your pot, stir them ever minute or so. If you listen carefully, you may be able able to hear a soft “pop!” as the cranberries begin to split open.
Eventually, they will begin to look wrinkled and saggy. And that’s when you know it’s time to add honey!
Watch the Tutorial!
Step 3: Measure In Honey and Cook Down
When your berries are ready, go ahead and measure in the raw honey. Stir to dissolve. And then it’s time to cook down your berries to thicken the sauce.
Leave the lid off and stand over your berry sauce, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Cranberries contain lots of natural pectin, so they will thicken on their own accord if you just give them time. Watch, stir and cook until you see the mixture thicken.
And just like that, you’ve made homemade cranberry sauce with honey and elderberry juice!
Step 4: Chill Your Cranberry Sauce and Refrigerate
Once your sauce has thickened, remove it from the heat and let it cool a bit. You can then transfer it to a bowl or jar. I recommend keeping it lidded if you’re planning to store it in the refrigerator.
I love keeping mine in a vintage jar with a glass lid! It looks so old fashioned and festive that way.
Q & A on Homemade Cranberry Sauce
If you’re only familiar with canned cranberry sauce, you’ll soon discover there are real differences between the two! Let me answer some questions you might have!
Q: How Much Sauce Does This Recipe Make?
This cranberry sauce with honey and elderberry makes approximately 2 C of finished sauce. And I can only give approximates, because the volume depends on how long you cook your sauce down. The thicker your end product is, the less you’ll have of it.
Q: Does Homemade Cranberry Sauce Set Like Canned Sauce?
Homemade cranberry sauce isn’t like the quivering, jelly mass you pop out of a tin can. Instead, the texture resembles a thick, homemade berry jam. It’s thick and even spreadable, but it isn’t a jelly.
Q: How Long Will My Sauce Keep in the Fridge?
Cranberry sauce will keep up to 10 days in the fridge. If you make it ahead of time, be sure to store it in a container with a lid to retain the freshness. Personally, I like to use my vintage mason jars with their glass lids.
Q: What Can I Do if my Refrigerated Sauce Become Bitter?
If there’s one thing you can be certain of, it’s the fact that your sauce will take on a hint of bitterness as it sits in the refrigerator. If your cranberry sauce become too bitter, heat it on the stove top once again and sweeten to taste. Personally, I like to let my sauce sit for 3-4 days, so it does have that hint of bitterness that pairs so well with the Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey!
Once you’ve made your own cranberry sauce, you won’t turn back. The flavor is unbeatable. And your guests will be so surprised by the bold and delicious flavor, they’ll be asking you for your recipe!
Cranberry Sauce with Honey and Elderberry
- 340 gm or 12 oz cranberries
- 1/2 C fruit juice
- 1/2 C honey
- Measure cranberries and fruit juice into a large pot.
- Cover with lid and warm on the stove under medium-high heat.
- Stir occasionally to help spread the heat, faster.
- Cook for 5 minutes or until berries split, soften and sag.
- Measure honey and stir into berries.
- Bring sauce back up to a simmer and cook down, stirring often to prevent burning.
- Over the next 3-5 minutes, your sauce will thicken as moisture evaporates.
- When you are happy with the consistency, remove from heat.
- Cool and transfer to your container of choice.
- Cover with lid and refrigerate up to 7 days.