Category Archives: Side Dish

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

This Instant Pot cranberry sauce has just a few ingredients and is much lower in sugar than traditional cranberry sauces. All because of another fruit – unsweetened applesauce!

An overhead shot of a glass bowl of Instant Pot cranberry sauce with a black metal spoon and linen cloth.

This post may contain affiliate links and as an Amazon associate I earn a small commission from qualifying positions at no additional cost to you.

Thanksgiving is next week (!!) – can you believe it? I’ve long made my apple cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, and while I love the combination of apples and cranberries, I wanted to make a couple tweaks to both ingredients and methods compared to my OG cran sauce:

  1. This cranberry sauce involves just simmering the cranberries in water. With my original recipe, the cranberries were simmered in apple juice or apple cider, which added more sweetness when the juice was reduced.
  2. This uses the Instant Pot!

Why the Instant Pot?

Cranberry sauce is kind of perfect for the Instant Pot. It allows the cranberries to get super tender pretty quickly, but most importantly? Especially on a busy cooking day like Thanksgiving where the stove top is prime real estate? This frees up the stove top for other dishes if you’re making it the day of.

A small glass bowl of cranberry sauce with the Instant Pot in the background.

How to make cranberry sauce in the Instant Pot

First things first: obviously you need an Instant Pot! I have an 8 quart Instant Pot that I love (the bigger size makes even things like a chicken or turkey breast or huge head of cabbage no problem!). For this recipe, a 6 quart Instant Pot would also work.

Then the only ingredients you need are fresh cranberries, water, applesauce, and brown sugar.

Add washed cranberries and water to the Instant Pot, close it and seal it, and then set it on a manual high pressure cycle for five minutes.

When the cycle is complete let it naturally release for 10-15 minutes. Vent the seal to ensure all pressure is out. When safe (when the red button pops down), open the Instant Pot.

Use a potato masher or fork to mash all of the softened cranberries. Pour in the applesauce and brown sugar and stir until all of the brown sugar is dissolved. Let cool prior to serving.

Why not just add all the ingredients at the beginning before cooking?

I never tested it that way, and here is why:

If there is not enough thin liquid or the liquid/ sauce is too thick (like a tomato sauce), it can trigger a burn message. The applesauce is a thicker consistency, and along with the brown sugar, help thicken the cranberry sauce.

My concern is that mixing the applesauce and brown sugar with the water will make the overall amount of liquid too thick and you wouldn’t have a successful cranberry sauce.

Ingredient substitutions/ sugar swaps

With such minimal ingredients, there really isn’t any need for substitutions. That said, I know different people prefer to use different types of sugar. Generally, any sweetener will work. I find liquid sweeteners (like honey and maple syrup) make the final cranberry sauce texture ever so slightly thinner. Cane sugar or light or dark brown sugar will work.

I find coconut sugar to not lend the same level of sweetness as cane or brown sugar, but if you prefer a more tart cranberry sauce, go that route.

Just remember – when it comes to sugar, ultimately it’s not the type that matters most, but the amount.

Now what about stevia? Personally, I’m not usually the biggest fan of stevia-sweetened products (with the exception of Lily’s Chocolate!), but if that’s your thing, give it a try and let me know how it turns out!

Will cranberry sauce thicken as it cools?

Yes! Don’t be alarmed if your cranberry sauce seems a little on the thin side after stirring in all your ingredients. As it cools it will thicken.

An instant pot on a marble surface full of cranberry sauce.

Can I make this on the stove if I don’t have an Instant Pot?

Yes. Bring the water and cranberries to a boil in a medium-large pot over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer about 15 minutes, or until cranberries are bursting. From there, you can mash any more intact pieces of cranberries if you desire, then stir in the applesauce and brown sugar. Remove from heat and let cool before serving or storing.

Can it be made in advance?

Totally! In fact, I find cranberry sauce to be one of the easiest things to make in advance for Thanksgiving. It helps, too, that you can keep it in the refrigerator or the freezer.

How long does cranberry sauce last?

  • REFRIGERATOR: homemade cranberry sauce will keep in the refrigerator up to one week.
  • FREEZER: homemade cranberry sauce can be frozen in an airtight container up to one month for best results.

How much cranberry sauce do you need per person on Thanksgiving?

While there will be some variability if your crowd is very pro-cranberry sauce or not, I find that planning a quarter cup of cranberry sauce per person is a good average. Some folks won’t like cranberry sauce, and others will use a heavy hand with the cranberry sauce spoon, but stick with a quarter cup per person and you’ll likely make out just fine!

How should I serve it?

While you may see some pretty presentations with cranberry sauce poured over sliced turkey on beautiful platters, I prefer to simply serve the cranberry sauce in a small serving bowl with a serving spoon or a small ladle. This way each guest can choose if they want any, and how much.

What goes well with cranberry sauce?

Cranberry sauce is delicious on its own, but a few other ideas include:

  • With protein (i.e. with turkey on Thanksgiving day, or as a glaze on baked chicken or salmon)
  • As a “jam” on a roll or biscuit
  • Stirred into oatmeal or yogurt
  • On toast

Be sure to check back later this week for a post on ways to utilize leftover cranberry sauce!

A close up spoonful of cranberry sauce.

Can this Instant Pot cranberry sauce be canned?

I would advise against it. Canning requires precision with pH balance for food safety and I do not know if this recipe is appropriate for safe canning.

Is this cranberry sauce healthy?

Healthy is incredibly subjective, but generally while I wouldn’t necessarily say this is “clean” and “healthy”, I think my Instant Pot cranberry sauce is a healthier option than more traditional cranberry sauces. While it still contains sugar, overall it has more fruit, more micronutrients, and less added sugar. It’s definitely my top pick for a bit healthier cranberry sauce that doesn’t sacrifice taste!

Get more healthier, classic Thanksgiving recipes:

Like this recipe? Be sure to pin it to Pinterest and share with your friends and fam on Facebook and Instagram! Live well!

An overhead shot of a glass bowl of Instant Pot cranberry sauce with a black metal spoon and linen cloth.

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce

Course: Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 56 kcal
Author: Lindsey Janeiro, RDN, LDN

Easy with just four ingredients, this Instant Pot cranberry sauce has much less added sugar compared to traditional cranberry sauce with the addition of unsweetened applesauce!

free from: wheat/ gluten, dairy, soy, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts

Print

Ingredients

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Wash cranberries and remove any stems or bad berries. Place cranberries and water in the Instant Pot. Lock and set the Instant Pot lid.

  2. Set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 5 minutes. Once cycle is complete, allow for a 10-15 minute natural release of pressure.

  3. Remove lid. Stir in applesauce and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved.

  4. Transfer to a serving dish or storage container and let cool before serving. The cranberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

Recipe Notes

One serving is a 1/4 cup.

See blog post for stove top method and information on refrigerator and freezer storage and how long it will last.

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 56 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 5mg0%
Potassium 51mg1%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 23IU0%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 10mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Text graphic that says, "Make this recipe? Tag @nutritiontofit on Instagram and use the hashtag #nutritiontofit."
Pinterest Image of Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce
Pinterest Image of Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce
Cucumber Chickpea Salad

Cucumber Chickpea Salad

Cucumber chickpea salad is cool and crunchy, with a slightly sweet tang from an easy homemade dressing. This easy, healthy dish is great for summer barbecues, easy lunches, and meal prep. Want a crowd-pleaser of a recipe that only takes ten minutes, made with ingredients that are likely already in your fridge and pantry now?… Continue Reading

Blistered Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

Blistered Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

Bright and flavorful blistered tomatoes are quickly cooked in olive oil and white wine and finished with garlic, sea salt, and fresh basil for a simple and delicious side. Summertime means harvest time for alllll the tomatoes! And while I love a good caprese salad and chopped tomatoes over mixed greens as much as the… Continue Reading

How to Make Crispy Prosciutto

How to Make Crispy Prosciutto

Crispy prosciutto is a simple and delicious way to elevate vegetable dishes, pastas, salads, sandwiches, and even enjoy on its own. I can’t believe I’ve never shared how to make crispy prosciutto before! Crispy prosciutto is the BEST! So, before we dive in on all things crispy prosciutto, let’s chat bacon for a minute. Bacon… Continue Reading

Lemon Garlic Turnip Greens (Meal Prepped 4 Ways!)

Lemon Garlic Turnip Greens (Meal Prepped 4 Ways!)

Lemon garlic turnip greens are a quick and easy way to make leafy greens taste good. They make a delicious side dish or convenient meal prep component – check out four ways you can use them in your meal prep below! This post is brought to you by our friends at Nature’s Greens. Thank you for… Continue Reading

Chickpea Quinoa Salad with Turnip Greens

Chickpea Quinoa Salad with Turnip Greens

If you need an on-the-go meal or healthy summer side dish, this healthy chickpea quinoa salad with turnip greens is for you. Dressed in an orange basil dressing, this plant-based salad recipe uses fresh turnip greens in a nutritious and wholesome way. This post is brought to you by our friends at Nature’s Greens. Thank… Continue Reading

Cilantro Lime Quinoa (Instant Pot Option)

Cilantro Lime Quinoa (Instant Pot Option)

Cilantro lime quinoa is an easy healthy side dish that can be made on the stove top, in the instant pot, or with pre-made quinoa. It’s great for meal prep and can even be frozen for healthy freezer meals. When I shared the below meal prep photo on Facebook and Instagram, I asked which recipe… Continue Reading

Healthy, Easy Sauteed Mushrooms

Healthy, Easy Sauteed Mushrooms

This recipe for easy sauteed mushrooms leaves you with a healthy mushroom side dish that pairs deliciously with anything from steak to chicken to salmon! Healthy, Easy Sauteed Mushrooms I’m not sure why I’ve never shared this recipe before because I adore mushrooms and this is one of my favorite easy side dish recipes! Mushrooms… Continue Reading

Scalloped Potato Gratin (Lightened Up!)

Scalloped Potato Gratin (Lightened Up!)

Any good scalloped potato dish will give you creamy, delicious potatoes while any potato gratin will give you decadently cheesy potatoes. This healthy scalloped potato gratin recipe combines the best of both worlds, but with some lighter modifications! Serve this at your holiday table and your guests will leave with their taste buds satisfied, but… Continue Reading

Winter Kale Salad with Cranberries and Cranberry Vinaigrette

Winter Kale Salad with Cranberries and Cranberry Vinaigrette

This winter kale salad with cranberries is massaged with the lightest, most delicately sweet cranberry vinaigrette for a festive massaged kale salad everyone wants more of! You HAVE to make this winter kale salad!!! I know – you’re probably thinking, “it’s a kale salad…I’ll take pumpkin pie crumble bars, please…” but there is just something… Continue Reading

Welcome to Nutrition to Fit - I'm SO glad you're here! NTF is about easy recipes (that don't sacrifice flavor or nutrition) and simple nutrition strategies for small, consistent habits that help you meet your goals. I know the wellness world can be confusing and overwhelming, so I'm here to help you find health and nutrition to fit your life!

Popular Posts