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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Cranberry Applesauce

This delicious and vibrant sauce is part applesauce and part cranberry sauce. It is colorful and perfect along pork or chicken. It will be great on your Thanksgiving table as well!     
wooden spoon filled with red cranberry applesauce held over pot of sauce


      This applesauce has the magic of cranberries mixed right in.  Not only do they lend their crimson color, but a great tart burst that is will keep your taste buds dancing.  This is a great snack, would be perfect stirred into a bowl of oatmeal or served as a side dish.  Your Thanksgiving table is begging for this fabulous recipe instead of cranberry sauce from a jar.  You will find it pairs well with pork and chicken as well.

    Cranberries and apples are such a wonderful combination.  The sweet and tart can go together in so many ways, including cranberry apple crisp which is a fabulous fall dessert! 
     This wonderfully easy to make applesauce is a great example.  Plus it is super versatile as it can be served as a stand alone snack, or as a side dish to so many entrees. 

hand sprinkling cranberries into pan with diced apples

     It would also be wonderful mixed into a little yogurt or oatmeal at breakfast time.  The possibilities are really endless.   
     You can customize the final sauce to your liking.  I love a good chunky applesauce, so I just mash the softened apples and cranberries with a potato masher.  
     If you want a smoother sauce, I find the easiest way to accomplish that is an immersion blender. They are handy because you can use them right in the pot, there's no transferring of hot liquid or extra dirty dishes. 

ingredients in saucepan ready to cook

    You can also put the cooked sauce into a food processor or blender to get it smooth.  Just be careful because it is definitely hot!

    I originally made this recipe back in 2016 to bring to our Thanksgiving dinner.  I had never been a fan of the cranberry sauce in the can, so I was looking for ways to make getting cranberries on the plate more palatable.

    This applesauce version of cranberry sauce is a great way to win over even cranberry skeptics.  I know it won me over and I've been getting more and more into cranberries ever since.    

   So I thought it would fun to revisit the recipe before Thanksgiving rolls around again.  I had some cranberries in the freezer and fresh apples in the fridge from our CSA.    

  It was a great way to use both and the sweet-tart finished product got me hooked again!  I hope you give the recipe a try yourself!

small bowl of cranapplesauce in front of saucepan of freshly made sauce

Original post from 2016:

     First thing's first, how was your Thanksgiving?  Ours was lovely.  There was too much food, as always but it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving if that weren't the case.

    In fact I think we should all just make a resolution now that it's a yoga pants weekend and be comfy, cozy and happy with that.  After all, there are leftovers to eat, Christmas decorations to get out and football to watch!

    In the meantime, have you been enjoying cranberry week as much as I have?  There have been a lot of really great ideas that I can't wait try.  This final recipe I am sharing was perfect served cold as a side for Thanksgiving.

   It was that little bit sweet, little bit tart, bright flavor that was a great counter to the savory, creamy potatoes, gravy and casseroles.  It would also be great served warm with pork chops, pork roast or maybe one of those schnitzels that Caroline's Cooking always makes look so good.

    I really like that the apples in this recipe lend some sweetness to the cranberries, so you don't have to add quite as much sugar as in a lot of cranberry sauce recipes.  You could certainly blend it smooth if you'd like, but I left mine pretty chunky as I thought it added that little bit more interest.

   So now that we've made it through Thanksgiving and #CranberryWeek, you might think we could take a little break..... never!  Next week is going to be another hectic one.  

   My little sister is getting married and it will be the start of  12 days of #christmascookies.  So hold on to your seats, this train doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon!

spoonful of red cranberry applesauce ready to eat

More fun recipes featuring cranberries:

If you love cranberries, check out my mini cranberry cheese balls.  They are a mix of some of my favorite salad toppers in cute little appetizer form!

Or try brie topped with maple cranberry sauce (or your whatever cranberry sauce you happen to have leftover!) It is the perfect mix of creamy, tangy and delicious. 

For dessert, try some cranberry and dark chocolate oatmeal cookies.  They have a sophisticated flavor that will bring interest to your holiday cookie trays. 

Or to take your sandwich game to the next level, make some of my friend Tisha's turkey sliders.  They have pesto and dried cranberries that add so much flavor!

thumbnail for youtube video

Can I leave out the sugar in this recipe?

Cranberries are super tart, so I wouldn't advise it.  Using the half cup of brown sugar in the recipe still leaves a bit of bite in the finished sauce.

You could try subbing in honey or maple syrup for a more natural source of sweetness if that is your preference.  I would use a half cup of maple syrup, but you may be able to get away with a third of a cup of honey.

You can start with less sugar and adjust it to your tastes at the end.  I don't use sugar substitutes, but I am sure you could try your favorite as long as it is meant to be cooked.

It also depends somewhat on the apples you use.  If you start with sweeter apples, you may need less sugar.  If you are using tart apples and tart cranberries, you will need something to help balance that out.

What apples are best for making applesauce?

Applesauce is pretty forgiving.  You can get away with using most any apples, however softer apples will make the process go faster and easier.

Our local apple orchard always has pecks of seconds or B grade apples for cheaper than the really pretty apples.  They are perfect for making applesauce or this cran-applesauce!

This is a great way to use up some gala or McIntosh apples.  I also like using Jonathan or Jonagold apples for applesauce.

Of course you can use honeycrisp if you'd like, but those almost always get eaten out of hand at our house.  Really just about any apple variety works.

bowl of crimson cranberry applesauce next to jar of sauce

How do I store my cranberry applesauce?

Just like regular applesauce, you want to store your cranberry applesauce in the refrigerator for up to a week to ten days.  For longer storage, you can freeze it for several months.

For another fun fruity sauce, check out my recipe for strawberry rhubarb applesauce. It's a great way to enjoy something fresh and delicious in the spring as well.

Cranberry Applesauce
Homemade Cranberry Applesauce fresh fruit into a delicious cranberry applesauce. It has that perfect balance between sweet and tangy. A big bowl of this flavorful red sauce would be perfect on your Thanksgiving table. It would also be wonderful with pork or chicken. Or you could eat it on its own for a snack. No matter how you enjoy it, you should whip up a batch!

Cranberry Applesauce

Yield: 24 servings (about 1/2 gallon)
Author: Cooking With Carlee
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 30 Min
This applesauce has the magic of cranberries mixed right in. Not only do they lend their crimson color, but a great tart burst that is will keep your taste buds dancing. This is a great snack, would be perfect stirred into a bowl of oatmeal or served as a side dish. Your Thanksgiving table is begging for this fabulous recipe instead of cranberry sauce from a jar. You will find it pairs well with pork and chicken as well.


  • 3-4 pounds cooking apples, peeled and sliced
  • 12 oz cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch of salt


  1. Place ingredients in a large heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Stir occasionally as it comes to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Allow to simmer, covered for about 15 minutes or until the apples are soft enough to mash with a potato masher.
  4. Mash to your desired consistency or use an immersion blender for a smoother finished product.
  5. Taste and add a little more sugar or a few drops of honey if a sweeter sauce is desired.
  6. Serve warm or cold. Store in the refrigerator.



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cranapple sauce, cranberry apple sauce, cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving side dish, fresh cranberry recipes
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    This delicious and vibrant sauce is part applesauce and part cranberry sauce. It is colorful and perfect along pork or chicken. It will be great on your Thanksgiving table as well!


    1. Love the addition of the apples!!! Enjoy the rest of this nice, long holiday weekend sweet friend!!

    2. I love homemade cranberry sauce. Yum!

    3. Sounds delicious (and thanks, sure it would go with one of the schnitzels I make :) )

    4. What a beautiful sauce. I love the addition of the apples and orange but have never tried it with brown sugar. That sounds delicious!

      1. Thank you! The flavors really came together nicely.

    5. Our Canadian Thanksgiving is in October but I have marked this for next year. It looks wonderful.

      The Old Fat Guy

      1. I have almost wished you a happy Thanksgiving a hundred times in the last few weeks, but have held back as I know yours has come and gone. I hope you like it when the time rolls back around!

    6. Hi Carlee, I love Cranberry sauce, but have never made it myself as we do not get fresh cranberries here. Do you think that I could use soaked dried cranberries in this recipe? Also how long would it keep in the fridge for?


      1. I'll have to try it with dried cranberries some time. I would almost think by the time they boiled down that you could get a similar consistency. It is good in the fridge for a week or two but could be stored in a the freezer for a few months and defrosted as needed.

    7. So delicious! Now this is a cranberry sauce I'd want to eat!

    8. I saw this on twitter and was wowed! I love the idea of apple in this - I like a good tart bit of cranberry sauce, but let's face it = there's always so much and so much leftover I don't think I'd have that problem with this dish!

      1. Thank you! It does make quite a bit. We love to freeze our apple sauce and I can't see why that wouldn't work for this. Though I am thinking of making some baked oatmeal with my leftovers instead!

    9. I love a slightly sweet, slightly tart cranberry sauce with turkey on Thanksgiving, it adds a great depth to the flavor combination. I never thought about adding apples to reduce the amount of sugar, this is brilliant! I am definitely pinning this for next Thanksgiving, or even sooner, love fresh cranberry sauce! Thanks.

      1. I hope you give it a try and love it! It's nice to have a fresh side on the plate mixed in with all of the rich ones ;-)

    10. We will just love your Cranberry Apple Sauce, it looks awesome! Hope you have a great week and thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday!
      Miz Helen

    11. I’m here for it! Yum! I’m going to show my
      Mom this recipe as she was just talking about making applesauce.And she loves cranberries.

      1. Perfect timing then! I hope she gives it a go!


    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love reading your ideas!