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PlantPower Holiday Cooking: How to Make Cranberry Sauce (Without Refined Sugar)

By November 17, 20133 Comments


By Julie Piatt

Over the last several days, I’ve had the great pleasure of sharing with you some super delicious and healthy PlantPowered, gluten-free holiday meal recipe staples — Vegan Stuffing, Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, Mushroom Gravy & Almost Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie.  What are we missing? No holiday meal is complete without cranberry sauce! 

But what many may not realize is that cranberries in their native state are incredibly bitter.  Therefore, store-bought cranberry sauce is infused with an incredible amount of preservatives, artificial flavoring & colors as well as insane amounts of refined sugar in order to render the end product sufficiently sweet, pleasant to the eye and palatable to the typical consumer.  Even homemade versions typically require at least a full cup of refined sugar.

So how can I make a great tasting, organic, healthy cranberry sauce my family, kids and friends will enjoy without relying on a big bag of refined sugar?

Introducing my take on Cranberry Sauce, our fifth in this series of easy to prepare, nutritious and delicious PlantPowered holiday recipes we are publishing to supplement this week’s podcast discussion (in case you missed it, be sure to tune in for tips and strategies for navigating holiday treacheries by clicking here: RRP #60: How To Maintain Healthy Nutrition & Optimal Physical, Emotional & Spiritual Health During the Holidays ).


Serves 6-8 people


2 packages fresh organic cranberries
10 organic dates soaked in filtered water for at least 1 hour
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons raw (preferably manuka) honey (or maple syrup for those that prefer to avoid honey)


1.  In small saucepan, add the cranberries plus 1 cup of water.  Cook on medium heat until the mixture becomes syrup-like and the berries are soft and glazed. 

2.  Add 10 soaked dates, pits removed.  You can also experiment with adding a strip of or orange or lemon zest for a little citrus flavor accent.  Add the water from the soaked dates and 1 cinnamon stick broken in half. 

3.  Continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the dates break down. 

4.  Turn off heat and let cool. 

5.  Before serving, remove the cinnamon stick.  The mixture will take on a darker red hue due to the dates and cinnamon.

6.  OPTIONAL: add  the honey or maple syrup, but only for those that prefer the extra sweetness.  Personally, mine didn’t need it this time.  The dates rendered the dish plenty sweet. 

Yes, it’s that easy.

Serve & Amaze!

Enjoy plant-based recipes or just love great food?  Be sure to follow me on  Instagram  and Twitter !



P.S. – Want to learn more about our plant-based lifestyle and how to implement it into your life?  Check out our Jai Seed eCookbook– 77 pages of amazing, healthy & easy to prepare PlantPowered recipes certain to sate even the most finicky of palates.

Want even more?  Then be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition  – the online course Rich and I created in partnership with  3.5 hours of online streaming video content broken up into segmented topics, plus an online community and tons of downloadable kitchen, shopping & dietary tools plus a slew of recipes.  Makes a great holiday gift too!


  • DaMoose1015 says:

    Tried this. It was HORRIBLE! Sour and bitter. In my opinion, you’d have to be pretty masochistic to get more than one or two spoons of this down. If you do try this – make a VERY small batch and try it.

    I do have a truly delicious cranberry salad recipe that I developed. If you like cranberry sauce, try this. It is SO much healthier than canned sauce, and that’s regardless of whether it’s jellied, or whole-berry.

    Mark’s Sugar-Free Cranberry Salad

    2 C water
    10 SF dates (pitted), finely chopped (some are sugar coated, so read the package)
    2 – 12 Oz bags cranberries (Previously frozen)
    1/2 orange, peeled and sectioned (keep the biggest piece of intact peel)
    1 – 20 Oz can crushed pineapple
    1 1/2 C chopped walnuts
    1 apple, peeled and chopped (I really like Fuji for this recipe)
    2 Tbs honey
    2 – 0.3 Oz boxes SF Raspberry Jell-O
    2 packets artificial sweetener

    In a large sauce-pan (2 1/2 qts), simmer chopped dates in water (covered) for 15 minutes, low heat.

    Add Cranberries and orange, and give it a stir.

    Put orange peel on top. Re-cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

    Remove orange peel, stir mixture, put orange peel back on top, re-cover and let simmer for another 15 minutes.

    Turn off heat and remove orange peel.

    Add pineapple, walnuts, apple, and honey. Give it a good stir.

    Sprinkle the Jell-O and sweetener over top and give it another good stir to thoroughly incorporate.


    Garnish with mint leaf.

    Makes 2 Qts.

  • lcvegn says:

    Could you do this with date sugar instead of the whole dates? If so, how much would you use in place of 10 dates? Thanks! This looks delicious, and the cranberries have always been my favorite part of fall feasts, so I’m very excited to give it a go.

  • lucky1 says:

    Yes, 1/2 tsp is equal to one date.

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