Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce for the Slow Cooker

A reader recipe! What first attracted me to this recipe: the convenience of cooking whole cranberry sauce in a slow cooker. What keeps me coming back: it fills the house with a sweet aroma of cranberries, fresh ginger and orange zest! More good news: this easy cranberry sauce may be sweetened with either maple syrup (my favorite natural sweetener) or regular sugar. It works beautifully!

Fresh & Seasonal, Perfect for Thanksgiving and Winter's Cranberry Season. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep.
Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce ♥ KitchenParade.com, the convenience of the slow cooker, the natural sweetness of maple syrup, the sweet aroma of cranberries, fresh ginger and orange zest! Recipe, cooking tips, nutrition and Weight Watchers points included.

Why a Reader Shared Her Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Last fall, reader Karen Grosvenor responded to my complaints about slow cookers (see Easy Chicken or Turkey Tortilla Soup), suggesting her favorite slow cooker cookbook, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook.

She even gave a head start by recommending the Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal (excellent!), Ratatouille, Applesauce, the Salsa Chicken (excellent!) and Easy Cheesy Ravioli Casserole, which she says, believe it or not, is better in the slow cooker than the oven.

Karen also sent along this easy way to make cranberry sauce in the slow cooker, explaining, “My mother and I found this recipe for Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce in Parade Magazine years ago. Even those who don't like cranberry sauce like it, including children, my mother-in-law and (formerly) me."

She went on. "In theory, cranberry sauce is easy. But it always seems to take longer than I think and requires lots of stirring and wondering if it's done. Now I just throw everything into my slow cooker and let it go while I prepare my other Thanksgiving dishes."

Thanks, Karen, your recipe for Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe is a winner!

Why This Recipe Is Special

  • POP! The sauce thickens but most of the cranberries turn soft but remain whole. That makes for great texture.
  • SCENT! While the cranberry sauce simmers away, the house fills with this lovely scent of cranberry, orange and ginger. Just lovely!
  • CONVENIENCE! Toss the ingredients in the slow cooker and zip-zap, you've got whole cranberry sauce.
  • USEFULNESS! Whole Cranberry Sauce is good for Thanksgiving but I keep it on hand all winter long, it's easy to use up along the way.
  • MAKE-AHEAD! Make this cranberry sauce a day, even a week ahead of time.

Experimenting with Different Sweeteners

I love Karen's recipe! In fact, it's become my go-to cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, sure, but also throughout the winter months which, if you join me in loving cranberries, can also be called "cranberry season". It's great to have on hand, cranberry-fresh, slightly tart, just wonderful.

And once I have a go-to recipe, I start to play with it, making small and large variations to see how it might work in other kitchens. Naturally, I started playing around with the sugar, checking both amounts and alternatives.


  • SUGAR White sugar is the usual sweetener for cranberry sauce. The purpose of sugar is not only to sweeten but also to thicken the cranberry sauce. Still, could I do better?
  • LESS SUGAR? I've made Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce with a single cup of sugar, the taste is great but unfortunately, the sauce just doesn't thicken as well.
  • STEVIA? Stevia is a no-calorie plant-based sugar substitute. I tried making Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce with stevia and was unimpressed. The taste was “chemical-y” and the sauce didn’t thicken, bummer.
  • MAPLE SYRUP? The real excitement? Finally an excellent substitute for processed sugar! Call me delighted that Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce adapted so easily to maple syrup! On the first try, I used a half cup of maple syrup instead of white sugar, that's the right amount of sweetener. I really love the maple-y touch, it really works with orange and ginger. This is my new first-choice sweetener for Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce.

Pick the Right Slow Cooker


The size of your slow cooker matters here.

SMALL SLOW COOKER I use a small red stoneware slow cooker from Hamilton Beach. Unfortunately, it's no longer easily available. I picture it above, as of 2019 it's still possible to find both new and used versions on E-Bay and other sites.

That pretty red stoneware "party" crockpot is small. Officially, it's a 1-1/2 quart slow cooker, designed for small batch slow cooking, especially for one or two. That equates to 6 cups but really, it maxes out at about 4 cups. I mention all this because it's a useful size and may help readers judge which slow cooker to use.

LARGER SLOW COOKER But I have the idea if you were to make this recipe (as written, with 12 ounces of cranberries) in a larger slow cooker, it could well burn quickly because of more surface area for the same volume. To counteract this, just double the recipe.

EXTRA RESOURCES




HOMEMADE WHOLE CRANBERRY SAUCE for the SLOW COOKER

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 3 hours
Makes 2-1/2 cups (made with sugar) or
2 cups (made with maple syrup),
fits a small slow cooker, double the recipe for a larger slow cooker
  • 12 ounces (340g) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1-1/2 cups (300g) sugar or 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (from about 2 oranges)
  • 3/4 cup (200g) fresh orange juice (from about 2 large or 4 small oranges)

Finger through the cranberries under running water, seeking out soft or shriveled or unripe berries to discard.

Combine the cranberries and remaining ingredients in a smaller slow cooker (2 quarts or under). Cook on high for 2 – 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. (Avoid letting the slow cooker run longer, as the cranberries lose their beautiful color and begin to decompose. After cooking, the mixture will “appear” to be quite liquid but will thicken slightly once it's chilled.)

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Keeps several days, even a couple of weeks, it's great to have on hand during the holidays for odds 'n' end uses both savory and sweet. Freezes well.

ALANNA’s TIPS If you like, cook the cranberry sauce a day (or several days) ahead. But then again, it really makes the kitchen smell good so consider putting it in the slow cooker early Thanksgiving morning. I love how this cranberry sauce leaves the cranberries soft and juicy but still, mostly whole. Use a lemon zester for the orange zest and a large-holed rasp for the fresh ginger. The orange and ginger flavors stay in the background but somehow they make the cranberries taste more like cranberries! I make this a couple of times each year, it's just nice to have on hand! I also use it to make Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Orange Spread, a great holiday appetizer. The food blog Farm Fresh Feasts added beets and fresh ginger to make a Cranberry, Orange & Beet Salad. Creative!
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Made with Sugar (makes 2.5 cups) Per Four Tablespoons: 63 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium; 16g Carb; 2g Fiber; 13g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 3 & MyWW green3 & blue3 & purple3

Made with Maple Syrup (makes 2 cups) Per Four Tablespoons: 83 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 2mg Sodium; 21g Carb; 2g Fiber; 16g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 4 & MyWW green4 & blue4 & purple4

More Ideas for the "Cranberry Course"

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Cranberry Chutney Cranberry Orange Relish with Fresh Ginger Fresh Jellied Cranberry Sauce with Apple
~ more cranberry recipes ~
~ more Thanksgiving recipes ~

Seasonal Cooking: Preparing for Thanksgiving, This Same Week, Across the Years

Light & Fluffy Homemade Whole-Grain Bread & Buns Perfect Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins Squash Puff Turnip Puff Perfect Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Party Potatoes) Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf with Quinoa, Barley, Kamut & Other Grains Pumpkin Bread Pudding Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars Pumpkin Pecan Pie Apple-Butter Pumpkin Pie Cranberry Linzer Tart Mom's Perfect Biscuits How to Make Perfect Biscuits (Step-by-Step Photos & Detailed Instructions + Eight Tips for Extra-Good Biscuits) Mulled Apple Cider


This Week, Elsewhere

~ Bread Pudding ~
from Sunset 44 Bistro
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Weekly Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

~ Pioneer Woman's Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole ~
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ cranberry recipes ~
~ maple syrup ~
~ orange recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

Comments

  1. Catherine11/18/2013

    I love apples in my cranberry sauce, so I imagine that would work well with this recipe. I heard adding pear can also be good! I have successfully added thick peel orange marmalade to my cooked on the stove cranberry sauce.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Karen G11/18/2013

    loved opening my email this morning to find my cranberry sauce recipe! So glad you have enjoyed it. I had to smile that it was one of my mom's recipes. (We both clipped it from the paper, but she made it first.) My mom hated to cook, but could rise to the occasion when needed. She would have gotten a huge kick out of seeing this recipe on your blog. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face.
    loved opening my email this morning to find my cranberry sauce recipe! So glad you have enjoyed it. I had to smile that it was one of my mom's recipes. (We both clipped it from the paper, but she made it first.) My mom hated to cook, but could rise to the occasion when needed. She would have gotten a huge kick out of seeing this recipe on your blog. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Alanna,
    This sounds like a terrifically easy way to make cranberry sauce--and easily customizable as well. Perfect for my little crock. However, I'd do it the day before since I really like chilled cranberry sauce as a temperature contrast on my plate.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna