When I hear “cranberry sauce,” I automatically think of Thanksgiving dinner and the canned, jellied sauce that was always served at the table. But making my own tart cranberry sauce, sweetened with dates, is super easy and heart healthy. Whether you want to branch out from your traditional cranberry sauce, or are looking for a lower sugar option, it’s a delicious substitute for the usual canned sauce at your meal.

This cranberry sauce uses just a few ingredients, making it super simple to make. Just Medjool dates, cranberries, lemon zest and juice, and water make for the most delicious tart cranberry sauce! We suggest looking specifically for Medjool dates as they tend to be sweeter than other types of dates, making them better for sweetening this sauce.

Just like the ingredient list, the process of making this cranberry sauce is extremely simple. All it takes is soaking the dates in hot water for ten minutes to soften them, removing their pits, and mashing them. Then, they’re combined with the cranberries, lemon juice and zest, and water over heat at a boil. It’s simmered for ten minutes until thickened and then left to cool. It really doesn’t get easier than that!

This recipe can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container so it’s one less thing on your stove the day of Thanksgiving. 

You can really serve cranberry sauce with anything! It can be used to top pancakes or waffles, eaten with yogurt, or used like jelly. It’s pretty versatile as a leftover.

If you want to make your traditional Thanksgiving recipes a healthier spin, take a look at these popular Thanksgiving recipes:

Give our homemade cranberry sauce recipe a try and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Cranberry Sauce

Course: Kitchen Basics, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Cooking Method: Stove Top
Condition: Dairy Free, Diabetes, Gluten Free, Heart Health, Low Sodium, Nut Free, PCOS, Vegetarian
Servings: 10 servings


  • 8 dates Medjool
  • 12 oz cranberries
  • 1/2 lemon zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup water


  • Place Medjool dates in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Once softened, take the dates out of the bowl, remove the skin and pits from dates, and mash with a fork.
  • Combine cranberries, date paste, lemon juice, zest, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until starting to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool completely.


Carbohydrates: 17g | Potassium: 138mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 16g

Please note:

Nutrition info is approximate and may contain errors.

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An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.