Date and Orange Cranberry Sauce (Paleo, Whole30)

Date and Orange Cranberry Sauce is the healthy Thanksgiving side dish your holiday needs. No, deserves.

You just need fresh or frozen cranberries, dates and an orange (ok, and salt) for a slightly sweet, tart and gorgeously ruby-hued relish.

It’s so easy to make and there’s lots of ways to customize it to your liking.

Plus, this cranberry sauce without sugar happens to be refined sugar-free, vegan, Paleo and Whole30 but no one will know!

healthy cranberry sauce in a white bowl next to a floral napkin

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Date and Orange Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is great for multiple reasons:

  • it’s the only source of acid or tartness on your Thanksgiving plate, helping to cut through all the (delicious) carbs and meat
  • it’s the easiest Thanksgiving dish to make
  • you can make it ahead of time
  • cranberries are really good for you
  • it’s so good you’ll be glad to have leftovers! (see the Leftovers section below)

And this Date and Orange Cranberry Sauce is even better because it cuts out all the refined white sugar in regular recipes while still tasting like the real thing.

So it just happens to be a Whole30 and Paleo cranberry sauce but shhhhhh…no one has to know.

 

What you need for Date and Orange Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

 

Equipment:

vegan cranberry sauce in a white bowl next to a napkin and a cutting board with an orange and zester

How to make this Paleo cranberry sauce

Like I said, this is the easiest Thanksgiving side dish:

First, zest the orange with the microplane and set the zest aside.

Then add the cranberries and dates to a medium saucepan.

Add the juice of the orange. I don’t have any specific juicing tool or equipment so this is how I do it:

  • Cut the orange in half
  • hold one half over the saucepan and stab it in the center with a fork
  • squeeze the orange while twisting the fork, aiming the cut side of the orange toward the saucepan as much as possible since the juice tends to squirt out
  • rotate the orange over and over again while twisting the fork until there’s not much left coming out
  • repeat with the other half

Some of the pulp and even the seeds might fall in but I don’t mind. Once everything is blended you don’t really notice.

If the pulp or seeds bother you, just place a mesh strainer over the saucepan before squeezing the orange to catch the solids while letting the juice through.

Add the sea salt to the pan.

Put the pan over medium heat and let it cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

As the cranberries soften, use a wooden spoon to mash them against the bottom or sides of the pot to release more of the juice.

Once the cranberries and dates are soft, turn off the heat and add the orange zest.

You can choose how you want to mash the cranberries:

  • use a potato masher for a rustic, chunky sauce
  • use a blender, stick blender or food processor and blend the sauce until your desired consistency; I find a food processor works best, especially if you want the sauce really smooth

Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

 

Substitutions and variations

  • Use fresh cranberries or frozen, unthawed cranberries
  • You can add one peeled, chopped apple
  • For a spiced cranberry sauce, add cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon), ground cloves (1/4 teaspoon) and/or ground allspice (1/4 teaspoon) with the salt
  • You can add freshly grated ginger (1 teaspoon) or ground ginger (1/2 teaspoon) with the salt

Paleo cranberry sauce on a spoon over a bowl of the sauce

Make ahead

You can make cranberry sauce up to 5 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator. Serve cold or bring to room temperature.

You can freeze the sauce in an airtight container or baggie for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Serve cold or bring to room temperature.

If you’ve made it ahead of time and want to serve it warm, heat it in a saucepan over low eat, stirring occasionally.

If it’s too thick, stir in some water a bit at a time.

 

What to do with leftover Date and Orange Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is great with all kinds of food, not just for Thanksgiving.

In fact, I have 3 great ways to use up leftover cranberry sauce.

Or use it to make these Paleo Cranberry Bars.

You can also serve leftovers as-is with chicken, pork, beef, venison or lamb.

You can also spread it with butter or ghee on this Paleo pumpkin bread or your favorite bread or muffins.

Stir it into yogurt with or without granola for a snack or breakfast.

You can spoon it over ice cream, pancakes, waffles or French toast.

If it sets too much and isn’t as pourable as you’d like, stir in some water. Or if you’d prefer it a little sweeter, stir in a bit of maple syrup or honey.

 

Other Thanksgiving recipes you might like:

  1. Sausage, Sweet Potato and Apple Stuffing (Paleo, Whole30)
  2. Brussels Sprouts Casserole (Paleo, Whole30, vegan)
  3. Pumpkin Spice Candied Bacon
  4. Pumpkin Cider Margarita
  5. Pumpkin Pie (Paleo, nut-free)

 

date and orange cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a spoon
healthy cranberry sauce in a white bowl next to a floral napkin
Print Recipe
5 from 7 votes

Date and Orange Cranberry Sauce (Paleo, Whole30)

This easy Date and Orange Cranberry Sauce is slightly sweet, slightly tart and the perfect addition to your holiday table. By using dates it's totally refined sugar-free but no one will notice!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry sauce, cranberry sauce without sugar, healthy cranberry sauce, healthy Thanksgiving, paleo cranberry sauce, whole30 cranberry sauce
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Don Baiocchi

Ingredients

  • 1 medium orange
  • 12 oz. fresh or frozen (unthawed) cranberries
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  • Zest the orange and set the zest aside.
  • Add the cranberries, dates and salt to a medium saucepan, plus the juice of the orange (see post for details).
  • Set the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries and dates are soft, about 8-10 minutes (might take 10-12 minutes if using frozen cranberries). Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir. As the cranberries soften, mash them against the bottom or sides of the pot.
  • Take off the heat and add the orange zest.
  • Use a potato masher, blender, stick blender or food processor to blend the sauce to your desired consistency. If you want it really smooth, the appliances (especially the food processor) work better than the potato masher. Taste and add any salt, if necessary. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

Notes

Substitutions and variations
  • Use fresh cranberries or frozen, unthawed cranberries
  • You can add one peeled, chopped apple in addition to or instead of the orange
  • For a spiced cranberry sauce, add cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon), ground cloves (1/4 teaspoon) and/or ground allspice (1/4 teaspoon) with the salt
  • You can add freshly grated ginger (1 teaspoon) or ground ginger (1/2 teaspoon) with the salt
 
Make ahead
You can make cranberry sauce up to 5 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator. Serve cold or bring to room temperature.
You can freeze the sauce in an airtight container or baggie for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Serve cold or bring to room temperature.
If you've made it ahead of time and want to serve it warm, heat it in a saucepan over low eat, stirring occasionally. If it's too thick, stir in some water a bit at a time.
 

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