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Cranberry Applesauce – A Colorful Thanksgiving Recipe

If you have filled your Thanksgiving table with drab beige and brown foods, you definitely need this Cranberry Applesauce recipe. We guarantee it will be the most colorful item on the menu.

Cranberry Applesauce

Don’t get us wrong – we love all Thanksgiving foods. And we love regular applesauce too. But this cranberry applesauce really cheers up a meal. The first thing anyone will notice is its bright pink color. Then when they take a taste and enjoy the sweet “zing!” that cranberries add to applesauce, they’ll be sold.

Lucky for us, we had fresh-picked New Jersey cranberries to make this recipe (thank you, New Jersey family!). But of course you can use frozen cranberries as well.

Cranberry Applesauce Recipe

Cranberry Applesauce

A pretty applesauce with cranberries - distinctive for its bright pink color and slightly sweet-tart flavor.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword applesauce, cranberries, cranberry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6


  • 3 pounds Granny Smith (green apples), about 5 or 6 large
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries (may use frozen as well, but fresh are preferable)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water (plus more if needed)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)


  1. Core, peel, and coarsely chop the apples. Add the apples and all remaining ingredients into a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently, for about 20 to 30 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. (Cook for less time if you like chunkier apples.) Watch carefully to make sure the mixture doesn't burn; add more water, 1/2 cup at a time, if it becomes too thick or threatens to burn. Chill and serve with cinnamon stick.

If you haven’t ever made regular applesauce before, you’re in for a real treat with this recipe. It looks like it might be complicated, but it isn’t. Additionally, it looks like it would take a long time, but it doesn’t.

The trick is to watch it carefully and make sure it doesn’t dry out too much. That’s when it starts to burn on the bottom of the pot. (Veteran of burned applesauce over here!) If necessary, add more water, 1/2 cup at a time, to keep it “wet.”

Keep watching until it has reached your preferred consistency and texture. If it’s too thick and the apples haven’t “melted,” add more water. If it’s too watery, keep simmering it until it thickens.

And that’s it! Since it’s for Thanksgiving, you’ll probably forgive us if we say it’s as easy as “pie.”

P.S. Need other Thanksgiving recipes? Check out our collection of Plant-Based Thanksgiving Dishes.

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