Honey Maple Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving

November 22, 2016(updated on August 30, 2021)

This Honey Maple Cranberry Sauce is sweet, tart, and perfect for serving with turkey on Thanksgiving!

honey maple cranberry sauce in jars

Let’s take a moment to talk about cranberry condiments. They are a Thanksgiving staple and are one of the easiest things to make rather than buy.

honey maple cranberry sauce in jars

I’ve made a number of different versions to serve with turkey over the years. There was my “canned” cranberry sauce in which I molded a homemade version in a tin can in order to achieve the classic ridges. Before that, I shared a simple cranberry jelly made with just a pound of berries for easy DIY-ing.

washing cranberries for honey maple cranberry sauce

I’ve also made a bunch of cranberry-centric jams that go well with the traditional Thursday meal. Spiced Cranberry Jam. Pear Cranberry Jam. Low-sugar Pear Cranberry Jam. Apple Cranberry Jam. Apple Cranberry Compote. Any one of these would be a natural addition to your menu. (And if you need more inspiration, each one of my books contains at least one Thanksgiving-appropriate cranberry preserve.)

cranberries in the pot for honey maple cranberry sauce

Despite the fact that I’ve got so many variations at my disposal, I couldn’t resist making this Honey Maple Cranberry Sauce. Initially, I was going to mold this naturally sweetened version in tin can like I did all those years back. But honestly, it felt like too much trouble and do we really need another gimmick these days?

cranberries in the food mill for honey maple cranberry sauce

I find that cranberry skins are often tough, so I typically work my finished cranberry sauce through a food mill when it’s finished cooking. That results in a sauce that it more uniform in texture and is an easier sell to the people who have only just graduated from the overly sweet canned cranberry jelly. It’s an entirely optional step, though.

close up of honey maple cranberry sauce in jars

The finished cranberry sauce is flavored lightly with lemon zest and a cinnamon stick and is sweetened with both honey and maple syrup. It’s appealingly tart and sweet, and I am looking forward to heaping a generous scoop onto my plate come Thursday.

Do you have a house cranberry sauce or relish? Share your tradition in the comments!

5 from 2 votes

Honey-Maple Cranberry Sauce


  • 3 pounds fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups apple juice or cider
  • 1 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lemon


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold 7 cups of product.
  • Wash the cranberries and remove any that seem to be beyond the pale.
  • In a large pot, combine the berries, apple juice, honey, maple syrup, and cinnamon stick.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove strips of the lemon zest and add them to the pot.
  • Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium high and cook, stirring regularly, until all the cranberries have popped. This should take 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and let the sauce cool for a few minutes.
  • For a sauce that's uniform in texture, fit a food mill with its' medium screen and position it over a heatproof bowl. Work the sauce through the mill until only dry skins and bits of lemon zest remain in the top.
  • For a whole berry sauce, remove the cinnamon stick and the strips of lemon zest.
  • Taste the sauce and add a bit of juice from your denuded lemon, should it need balance.
  • Funnel the finished sauce into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  • When the time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortable handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

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30 thoughts on "Honey Maple Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving"

  • Thank you! I JUST searched your site for “cranberry sauce” a few hours before you posted this. My family always has the kind in a can and I like to bring an alternative, and this year I wanted to experiment with a natural sweetener. My search has now ended. 🙂

    1. So glad to be there to help you out! And know that you can move the sweetness up or down depending on how you like it!

  • We sometimes have 2, one a cranberry relish of raw cranberries, apples, oranges ground up in a food mill bolted to the out door picnic table (extra points if you have to have someone hold an umbrella to keep the rain or snow off…..). Add sugar to taste, starting with maybe .25 cups per bag of cranberries. Sometimes add pecans or walnuts. The second is a cooked sauce of cranberries and a few whole organic oranges chopped up pretty small and cooked until done with some added sugar and maybe tiny chopped ginger root, cooked until the orange peel is soft and tasty.

    As it turns out no one but me really likes the raw relish, a fact that was masked by kid excitement about using the food mill.

    So now we just have the cooked one……


  • Could I half this recipe? I have been looking to try another no sugar recipe.
    We usually have a raw cranberry, orange and sugar and an warm cranberry, apple,cinnamon, sugar.
    There are only 2 of us who think a no sugar one is a good idea…traditionalists abound in my family!

  • I don’t have a food mill. Any suggestions as to what I could use? Could I run it through the food processor to make it smooth?

  • In the photos, it looks like you used some jars larger than half-pints. Did you increase the processing time? I want to try this!

    1. I didn’t increase the processing time! Pints and smaller are always the same. You only move upwards if you go bigger than a pint.

  • In my husband’s family, is was Ocean Spray jellied sauce from the can – ridges and all – but the tradition was that my mother-in-law would forget to get it out until we’d all sat down. Our Thanksgiving standard is whole cranberries cooked with sugar, orange juice and zest, with some slivered almonds stirred in after it cools. It’s not something that I process – it would probably be OK to can without the almonds – but we usually eat it up over the course of the weekend.

    Have a happy Thanksgiving no matter what kind of cranberries you have!

  • We grew up with the ridges. I was given a recipe a few years back used a touch of garlic and rum…it is very surprisingly delicious as the ingredients mellow out the tartness, without distinguishing them. But my favorite is a preserve made with lingonberries and Grand Marnier. So my table will have a traditional one and one of the others.

  • Hi! I’m allergic to apples. Would this recipe still be safe made with pure pear juice or pure cherry juice?
    Thank you. It sounds like it will taste amazing.

  • My jars are in the canner! I’m going to use this at a Master Food Preservers’ holiday potluck jar swap this week. The cranberry sales at the supermarket were too good to pass up.

  • Eeks! I don’t have any cinnamon stick! Could I substitute ground cinnamon and if so, how much would you recommend using… I had my first homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving this year and my life is changed. Looking forward do making this for Xmas dinner with enough to can for later…

  • I’d like to try this recipe for Thanksgiving.Instead of using a food mill, do you think it would be okay to put this through a high-speed blender (Vitamix)? Or is it better in a food processor (I see you gave that as an alternative to another reader). Thank you!

  • I’ve always made cranberry sauce with cranberries, water and maple syrup – that’s it. This year I’d like to can it. As long as I stick to your measurements for cranberries to sweetener, is it ok to use all maple syrup and no honey? Thank you!

  • I was a little surprised there isn’t any lemon juice in this, only because most canning recipes do include it. I’m guessing that’s because there’s enough acid in the cranberries? Is that right?

    1. Cranberries are highly acidic and so this recipe doesn’t need any additional lemon juice for safety or flavor.

  • 5 stars
    Wondering if I could add some cut up apples to this recipe? Would I have to increase the processing time? I noticed your apple cranberry compote processes for 15 mins not 10 like this recipe….am a new “canner” so look forward to your expertise! Very excited as my daughter in law can’t have sugar so nice to to find a cranberry sauce that is sweetened with honey & maple syrup!

    1. The apple cranberry compote has a slightly denser consistency, which accounts for the longer processing time. You can certainly add apple to this recipe.

    1. You could certainly use 100% cranberry juice, but if it’s an unsweetened variety, you might want to increase the amount of honey. Otherwise, it might be too tart.

  • very excited to find this, as i somehow ended up with far too much maple syrup in my pantry, and saw the comment that you can go all maple syrup rather than syrup and honey. looking forward to having a new flavor on the table this year!