This homemade apple cranberry sauce (aka, apple cranberry relish) is refined sugar free, instead being sweetened with maple syrup, honey, and fresh apples. It’s a little tart, a little sweet, and the perfect make ahead side dish for Thanksgiving!
Homemade cranberry sauce is one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes! It’s got this sweet/tart thing going on that pairs perfectly with the rest of the meal.
Plus, a little of this mixed with some sweet potato casserole?? Trust me. It’s a winner.
Thanksgiving is a little over a week away and I can’t help but feel like I’ve still got weeks to prepare.
I think it’s this whole I’m-no-longer-in-school-thing (and haven’t been for quite a few years) so instead of basing my calendar on ‘how many days of class and papers do I have before Thanksgiving break,’ all of my days and weeks end up running together and, well, here we are.
Despite the whole ‘feeling like I’ve got weeks to prepare’ thing, I did manage to get myself on track and make a batch of this refined sugar free Apple Cranberry Sauce and freeze it so it’s ready for the big day. T-day, as I refer to it.
Alright, so I’m not really sure what the difference is between a cranberry sauce and a cranberry relish.
If a sauce is smoother and more sauce-like and a relish is a bit chunkier, then this is kind of somewhere in the middle. It has bits of apples and cranberries, yet still has a nice thick consistency of a sauce.
Feel free to call this whatever you want as long as you give this cranberry apple sauce recipe a try.
So, why did I make this Apple Cranberry Sauce refined sugar free?
Well, some of my family members are trying to reduce their sugar intake, and while Thanksgiving is anything but a time to worry about sugar, I figured I would try my hand at a cranberry sauce with maple syrup and honey.
To be honest, it seemed like an easy recipe to experiment with in terms of removing sugar and substituting maple syrup and honey. The verdict? It was extremely easy. The main difference between my normal cranberry sauce and this one is that my go-to cranberry sauce recipe is a bit sweeter. This refined sugar free apple cranberry sauce is a bit more tart (but it’s still absolutely amazing!).
Apple Cranberry Sauce (Cranberry Relish) Tips and Tricks:
- The apples, apple juice, spices, maple syrup and honey give this apple cranberry sauce its sweetness.
- This recipe is a perfect blend of tart and sweet. If you prefer a sweeter cranberry sauce, I’d suggest adding a little more maple syrup.
- This can be made 2-3 days ahead of time and stored in the fridge, or it can be made further in advance and put it in the freezer. I thaw it in the fridge about 1-2 days before I need it.
- I use a little orange zest to add a bit of brightness to this recipe; however, it is completely optional.
- Finally, you know the apple cranberry sauce is done when it has thickened (after about 12-15 minutes of simmering). As the sauce chills, it will continue to thicken.
Here are some other Thanksgiving recipes I make each year!
- 12 oz cranberries
- 2/3 cup apple juice (I used Simply Apple Juice; it’s 100% juice from pressed apples)
- 1 cup apples (peeled and diced)
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 1/3 cup - 1/2 cup pure maple syrup*
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries and apple juice together and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer.
Add in apples, orange zest, maple syrup, honey and spices. Stir until combined.
Allow to simmer about 12-15 minutes, or until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool (sauce will continue to thicken as it cools).
Store in the fridge until ready to serve, or if making the day of, it can be left at room temperature.
*If you prefer a sweeter sauce, I'd suggest using 1/2 cup of maple syrup (or more, truly depending upon your preference). I used a 1/3 cup in my recipe for a nice tart/sweet sauce.