Healthy & Delicious: Pioneer Woman's Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Healthy and Delicious

Healthy and delicious recipes from Serious Eats

Healthy & Delicious: Pioneer Woman's Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Editor's note: On Mondays, Kristen Swensson of Cheap, Healthy, Good swings by these parts to share healthy and delicious recipes with us. Take it away, Kristen!

Cranberry sauce has always been an afterthought on my family's holiday tables. For Grandma's sake, we'd buy a can, plop its contents on a fancy dish, and call it a day. Sometimes a chunk would be missing at the end of the meal, but usually we'd end up chucking the entire blob.

But things were different this year because we tried Pioneer Woman's recipe. And let me tell you, we aren't ambivalent anymore. We're actually more like a cult. A secret, family-only, cranberry sauce-loving cult. As cults go, it's a good time.

Instead of straight-up sugar, Ree uses a cup of maple syrup to balance the tartness of the fruit. A cup of cranberry juice ensures the essential flavor remains the focus of the dish, and a bit of citrus (in this case, orange juice), brightens the whole shebang. This is to say nothing of the texture, which to paraphrase the great Roseanne Conner, is "so far beyond canned sauce, that the light from canned sauce would take one billion years to reach the Earth." It is, in a word, awesome.

Admittedly, the high caloric content makes it a stretch for a healthy recipe. Here's the thing, though: while Pioneer Woman notes that this only serves four, I think it's actually more like eight or ten. There was enough for everyone at our Thanksgiving table, plus some leftovers.

So, this holiday, whether you're serving turkey or chicken (or anything other than lasagna, really) give cranberry sauce another go-round. You might just join the cult.

  • Yield:4 or many more


  • 3 tablespoons juice (or orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice - anything citrusy)
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
  • 1 16-oz. bag cranberries
  • 1 cup cranberry juice (or orange, apple or any other juice combination)


  1. 1.

    Wash bag of cranberries under cool water, then dump into a medium saucepan.

  2. 2.

    Pour in 1 cup of cranberry juice (or whatever juice you choose).

  3. 3.

    Pour in 1 cup maple syrup.

  4. 4.

    Add orange juice.

  5. 5.

    Stir together and turn heat on high until it reaches a boil.

  6. 6.

    Once it comes to a rolling boil, turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking over lower heat for about 10 minutes, or until the juice is thick. Turn off the heat.

  7. 7.

    (This is Kristen here, not Ree, but I found these extra steps work well.) Pour into a glass dish and let cool. For best results let sit in fridge overnight.