Vegan Cranberry Sauce

Enjoy this easy vegan cranberry sauce infused with orange, a hint of nutmeg, and the perfect balance between sweet and tart. Made with only five ingredients, this homemade cranberry sauce is way better than store-bought!

A bowl of vegan cranberry sauce sits in front of an orange and a bowl of fresh cranberries.

If you’re used to buying canned cranberry sauce, I have a message for you. Stop! Because you can make this easy homemade cranberry sauce instead. I like to make it the day before the big meal, refrigerate it, and then set it on the table. Your people will be so impressed!

How to Make Vegan Cranberry Sauce

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

  1. Add the cranberries, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, and water to a pan over medium heat.
    Fresh cranberries are topped with other ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. Zest an orange and add around 1 teaspoon of loosely packed orange zest.
    A zested orange sits next to a box grater, orange zest, and more oranges all on a cutting board.
  3. Then juice the orange and add around 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice.
  4. Stir it together and then bring it to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for up to 10 minutes, uncovered.
    Fresh cranberries are in a saucepan with a cinnamon stick on top.
  5. Take the pan off the heat source and use tongs to remove the cinnamon stick.
  6. Let this mixture come to room temperature. Then transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate until chilled.

Key Ingredients

  • Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
  • Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
  • Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
  • Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
  • Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
  • Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
  • Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
  • Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
  • Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
  • Cranberries — You’ll need a 10 or 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries. You can find them this time of year in the produce section. Feel free to substitute frozen cranberries.
  • Sugar — I prefer using light brown sugar for this recipe. It adds a nice caramel touch to the finished sauce. You can substitute granulated sugar. See below for refined-sugar free options.
  • Nutmeg — We’ll be adding half of a teaspoon of ground nutmeg. You can use storebought or freshly ground nutmeg.
  • Cinnamon stick — I love this sauce simmering with a cinnamon stick on top. If you don’t have one, you can substitute 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
  • Orange — I like using a fresh orange for this recipe. I begin by lightly zesting the skin. You only need a teaspoon of orange zest, but you can add more if you prefer more orange flavor. Then juice the orange and add the juice to the pan. Some oranges will deliver up to 1/2 cup of juice. Just use whatever your orange delivers.
A spoon is in a bowl of vegan cranberry sauce. A bowl of fresh cranberries is barely visible in the background.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • EASY — Made with only five ingredients, this sauce is ready within minutes!
  • FRESH — You want to dazzle your guests with fresh cranberry sauce — they’ll be so impressed!
  • TASTY — Adding fresh orange zest boosts the flavor profile of this perfect Thanksgiving side dish.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Why is cranberry sauce not vegan?

Many store-bought cranberry sauces are vegan, however, some do contain gelatin as a thickener. Always read the labels. Better yet, make your own cranberry sauce at home!

Can you freeze cranberry sauce?

Yes, you can freeze cranberry sauce. Simply transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 6 months.

Naturally-Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

I understand that using refined sugars may not be on your holiday to-do list. I prefer brown sugar because it’s easy, affordable, and readily available. However, if you want refined sugar-free cranberry sauce, consider these sweeteners instead:

  • Maple syrup — This has an equal level of sweetness with sugar, so use it 1:1 and eliminate the water.
  • Agave nectar — Use 2/3 cups of agave nectar and eliminate the water.
  • Vegan honey — Same as agave nectar, so use 2/3 cups and eliminate the water.

Marly’s Tips

You can experiment with reducing the amount of sweetener. I find cranberries are bitter beasts, and therefore, I prefer a full cup of sugar. You may be able to reduce it down to 3/4 cup of sugar, but much lower than that, and you risk this dish being too tart.

Uses for Leftover Cranberry Sauce

If you’ve got leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving, lucky you! Here are my favorite ways to use this delicious leftover sauce!

Storage Tips

Store cranberry sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Looking down on a bowl of bright red sauce with orange slices and a twig of rosemary.

Vegan Thanksgiving Sides

Everyone loves this vegan cranberry sauce, and here are even more vegan Thanksgiving side dishes you’ll want to try:

A spoon sits in a bowl of plant-based cranberry sauce.

Vegan Cranberry Sauce

You won't believe how easy it is to make homemade plant-based cranberry sauce. Thanks to orange zest, this version is so much more favorable than any store-bought variety!
5 from 2 votes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 103kcal


  • 4 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (substitute maple syrup, agave nectar or vegan honey)
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 fresh orange


  • Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cranberries, brown sugar, ground nutmeg, cinnamon stick, and water to the pan. Zest the orange and add around 1 teaspoon of loosely packed orange zest. Then juice the orange and add around 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice. Some oranges produce more or less juice. Just use whatever your orange delivers.
  • Stir and bring it to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for up to 10 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat and use tongs to remove the cinnamon stick.
  • Let this mixture come to room temperature. Then transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. It will thicken as it chills.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)



I tried reducing the sugar content, but cranberries are on the bitter side, and without adequate sugar, they will make you pucker. You may get away with reducing it to 3/4 cup of sugar, but I prefer the sweeter full cup. I enjoy using light brown sugar because of the hint of caramel flavor it adds.
Calories: 103kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 63mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 25IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 0.3mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

One Response to Vegan Cranberry Sauce

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyShelly Reply

    5 stars
    Youre right. It’s so much better than the stuff in a can!

Rate / Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.