Healthier Cranberry Sauce

I prefer a simple cranberry sauce, and you can’t get much simpler than the three ingredients: water, cranberries and maple syrup

White bowl containing 2 cups of frozen cranberries, measuring cup with 1/2 cup of maple syrup and one with 1 1/2 cups of water
There are only 3 ingredients in this healthier cranberry sauce

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What Makes this Healthier Cranberry Sauce Healthier than Others?

Less Sweetener

I use a low ratio of maple syrup to cranberries. Some recipes I’ve seen use as much as 1 part sugar:1 part cranberries. I find that too sweet. This ratio is 1 part maple syrup: 4 parts cranberries. This is plenty sweet enough and the maple syrup adds a beautiful depth of flavour.

Maple Syrup versus Sugar

The second thing that makes this healthier is the maple syrup itself. While still a sugar, it does contain some minerals (1). In 1/3 cup serving, the following minerals are present;

  • Calcium – 7% of the RDI
  • Poatassium – 6% of the RDI
  • Iron – 7% of the RDI
  • Zinc – 28% of the RDI
  • Manganese – 165% of the RDI

Lower Glycemic

The third quality that makes this healthier is that maple syrup is slightly lower in glycemic index than table sugar, which is the sugar most often used to make cranberry sauce. While I’m not sure if a lower glycemic index actually results in an observable health outcome, it’s one tiny benefit that might be claimed for maple syrup versus table sugar.


This is a naturally occurring compound found in maple syrup, it is named after Quebec, the Canadian province with the highest maple syrup production in the world. The quebecol is not present in the tree sap but is formed with the cooking of the sap to form syrup. Quebecol has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties (2).

Maple Syrup Grades

According to Canadian food inspection agency (3) there are two main grades of maple syrup, grade A and processing grade.

Canada Grade A syrup;

  • has 66%-68.9% solids
  • is free of fermentation
  • is uniform in colour and free from sediment and cloudiness
  • has maple flavour and is free from off odours or flavours
  • has a colour class (see below)

Canada Processing Grade;

  • has 66%-68.9% solids
  • does not meet the requirements for grade A (above)

Maple Syrup Colour Classes

According to the government of Canada (3), there are different colour classes of maple syrup, as follows; Grade A maple syrup:

  • “Golden, Delicate Taste”
  • “Amber, Rich Taste”
  • “Dark, Robust Taste”
  • “Very Dark, Strong Taste”

Only pure maple syrup can be called “maple syrup”. Other syrups that contain a blend of maple syrup and table syrup would be called; table syrup, gourmet syrup, blended syrup and they can list the % of maple syrup included. Syrups called pancake syrup, or just ‘syrup’  would not contain any maple syrup. Be sure to use pure maple syrup for this recipe. I used Grade A dark, robust for this recipe.


Healthier Cranberry Sauce

You don't need a lot of sugar to make cranberry sauce. This healthier cranberry sauce has only 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup to 2 cups of cranberries.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberries, cranberry, maple, maple syrup
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 127kcal
Author: Jean LaMantia
Cost: $5


  • sauce pan


  • 2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup I used grade A, dark
  • 1 1/2 cups water


  • Place all the ingredints in a medium sized saucepan and set the burner to medium.
  • Allow the mixture to come to a boil and stir occassionally.
    healthier cranberry sauce in saucepan
  • After about 30 minutes lower the temperature and continue to stir occassionally and allow it to thicken to desitred consistency

References for Healthier Maple Syrup

1.Nutrition Data. Syrups, maple Nutrition Facts & Calories. Accessed Dec 23, 2020.

2. Cardinal S, Azelmat J, Grenier D, Voyer N. Anti-inflammatory properties of quebecol and its derivatives. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2016 Jan 15;26(2):440-444. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.11.096. Epub 2015 Nov 27. PMID: 26691759.

3. Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Maple Syrup Grade Requirements. Last updated Aug 13, 2018. Accessed Dec 23, 2020.