This Vanilla Maple Cranberry Sauce is really quick, simple and easy to make, requiring only 5 ingredients or less. Naturally sweetened with maple syrup, it’s also vegan and paleo friendly so it’s a total crowd pleaser!
Finding fresh cranberries in the supermarket is such a novelty to me. Coming from Australia, where (i) cranberries are not abundant in December and (ii) I’d say cranberry sauce is nowhere near as much of a “thing” at Christmas time as it is elsewhere in the world… to find fresh cranberries in my local shop is just exciting! I love playing with new ingredients. Especially when you can whip up a vanilla-scented maple cranberry sauce in no time, and then have a delicious condiment to spread on just about anything.
Fresh cranberries are very firm and quite bitter tasting; it makes you realise how much sugar is generally added to the more common dried version (and is a key reason I don’t use them in large quantities). However, this sharp flavour is also what makes cranberries so suitable for cooking into a sauce or a relish; they offer such a nice acidic contrast to the heavy foods they are typically paired with. In this vanilla maple cranberry sauce, the caramel-like sweetness of the maple syrup balances out this sharpness just perfectly. There’s also a little apple puree in the recipe which adds some extra sweetness, too.
I wanted to give my maple cranberry sauce something a little extra, so I’ve added in a dash of vanilla and some orange zest. Orange zest and/or orange juice are often added to cranberry sauce recipes; the citrus note pairs so well. I chose to just use orange zest to reduce the sugar content of my sauce a little (I found that the sauce was sweet enough, and thinned it out with water). The vanilla is a little more unusual but it’s such a beautiful, delicate flavour and fragrance that I think makes this sauce extra special – every time I open the jar it smells so great!
You can make this vanilla maple cranberry sauce quite thick and chunky with a few whole cranberries still in there. Or, cook it for a few minutes longer, add an extra half cup of water and then blend it until smooth. I prefer it chunky so it can be easily popped into sandwiches or on top of yoghurt or porridge. My tip: make a loaf of my Savoury Pumpkin Oat Bread and pair these two recipes together!
Easy Vanilla Maple Cranberry Sauce
- 300 grams fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup apple puree
- 4-6 tbsp maple syrup (adjust to taste)
- 2-3 tsp vanilla extract (adjust to taste - some are stronger than others)
- 2 tsp finely chopped orange zest (optional)
- Wash the cranberries and place them in a saucepan (with a lid) with 1/2 cup water and the 1/2 cup of apple puree, plus the orange zest (if you're using it).
- Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Place the lid on the saucepan, just slightly ajar.
- Simmer the mixture for 10-15, stirring occasionally. The cranberries will start to pop and explode; continue to gently stir them as they do, forming a nice thick sauce.
- Toward the end of the cooking time, stir in 4 tbsp of maple syrup and the vanilla. Taste test and add additional maple syrup, if desired. You can also add some extra water to the sauce as it's cooking if you'd like it thinner.
- Allow the sauce to cool and then transfer to a sterile jar to store. It will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge if kept nice and cold.