Cranberries are tiny, red, and sour berries harvested around the Festive season. In fact, that’s why cranberries are widely available around Thanksgiving, with hundreds of recipes enriched by their flavor.
However, your neighborhood store can be out of stock because of how popular they are around the holidays. To make matters worse, cranberries are hard to find outside of the holiday season.
If you can’t find cranberries for your recipe, you need to look for an alternative option. The best substitutes for fresh cranberries are cranberry juice, frozen cranberries, cherries, red currants, raspberries, and lingonberries. Let’s learn more about each one.
Cranberries Substitutes Comparison
What Do Cranberries Taste Like?
Cranberries are refreshing and tangy. They have low sugar content but a high acidity, so their sour flavor is very evocative of lemons.
Because of this, cranberries are highly versatile — they are perfect for striking a balance between sweet and savory flavors in recipes. They may be found in various culinary delights, from nutritious cereals and salad dressings to tasty desserts and refreshing drinks.
Cranberries Nutritional Value
Cranberries’ culinary diversity isn’t all they have to offer — they also pack a potent nutritional punch into every dish.
One cup of raw cranberries contains:
- 46 calories
- 0.1g fat
- 12g carbs
- 3.6g fiber
- 0.5g protein
Cranberries have amazing health benefits. They have antioxidative properties that play a protective role against a number of diseases. In fact, the most well-known uses of cranberries are probably for treating heart disease and urinary tract infections.
Substitutes for Fresh Cranberries
Are you cooking cranberry sauce or jelly and want to keep the dish’s authentic cranberry flavor? Then cranberry juice is a fantastic alternative.
The healthy food aisle is a good place to look for 100% natural, unsweetened cranberry juice — this is the real deal. Don’t buy juices with added sweeteners and artificial flavors since they are more calorically dense and may lead to weight gain and other health-related problems.
Since this substitute doesn’t contain whole cranberries but only juice, you can mix it with other alternatives on our list, like raspberries, to get a thicker texture.
If you decide to use cranberry juice on its own, you can thicken it with cornstarch and then experiment with the flavor by adding sugar or freshly squeezed lemon juice to make it sourer.
Frozen cranberries are the best alternative to fresh ones in most cases. They taste identical and are just as healthy. However, once you unfreeze them, they have a slightly different texture, which may alter your recipe.
For instance, frozen cranberries aren’t a good choice if you need to layer them as decoration on top of a cake. That’s because all frozen fruits are softer and somewhat mushy once they defrost.
However, frozen cranberries are a great substitute for fresh cranberries if you need to prepare the traditional holiday cranberry sauce. The same holds true for baked goods. Just be sure to drain them after defrosting since too much water might ruin the texture of your recipe.
Cherries work best when you need to prepare a dish of a similar bright red hue to cranberries. Therefore, if you are making a sauce or jelly, the cherry shade is ideal.
In terms of flavor, cherries are slightly sweeter than cranberries. So, you might want to add less sugar to your dish to avoid making it too sweet. However, if you have tart cherries on hand, they will provide a tangier taste that’s closer to cranberries.
Cherries are also larger than cranberries. If your recipe asks for whole cranberries, you might need to cut the cherries into smaller pieces.
Red currants are a good substitute for cranberries because their flavor and texture are most similar to cranberries.
In fact, red currants are frequently mistaken for cranberries. Nevertheless, red currants are smaller than cranberries and more nutritionally dense.
In terms of similarities, they both have a tangy flavor and a juicy texture that’s excellent for jams and sauces. Another connection between red currants and cranberries is that they’re both harvested in fall.
Therefore, they may be more readily available at that time of the year. If they’re not, check for frozen red currants in your local grocery store.
Raspberries are another cranberry substitute that can bring back a hazy memory of summer throughout the fall and winter months.
They taste delicately sweet with a hint of tart. Their color is red but not as vivid as cranberries. They also have a much softer texture, which may be lost during baking. On the other hand, if your recipe calls for mashed cranberries, then raspberries will work just as fine.
Raspberries are also sweeter than cranberries, so keep notice of how much sugar you add when you’re substituting them for one another.
All in all, raspberries work very well for sauces, smoothies, cheesecakes, puddings, jellies, and many other cranberry-based recipes.
Our last alternative is the Nordic cousin to American cranberries — lingonberries. They share a similar flavor and look to cranberries, and they’re even in the same plant family.
Lingonberries’ hue is a brilliant, quite enticing crimson. The flavor of lingonberries is tart with a hint of sweetness. Compared to its cousin, the cranberry, these red berries are a little bit smaller, juicier, and have softer flesh.
However, lingonberries are not popularly sold in most grocery stores, but like red currants, you will certainly find them at the farmer’s market. So, if you are looking for an identical replica to cranberries but don’t like to use frozen ones, then you should definitely opt for lingonberries.
Popular Recipes That Call for Cranberries
Looking for some cranberry recipe inspo? The mouthwatering flavors in these recipes are a gourmet bliss.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is our favorite Thanksgiving staple. With fresh cranberries and two additional ingredients — water and sugar — you can easily make this delicious dish. But to make the taste even richer, you may add nuts, blueberries, cinnamon, or anything else that you especially enjoy. The homemade cranberry sauce is a simple and quick treat for your next holiday feast.
Braised Beef With Cranberries & Wine
This tasty and tender braised beef dish is an excellent choice for your homemade cranberry sauce. It’s ideal for dining on cold winter nights or during the holidays. The best thing is that it’s quite simple to make.
The cranberry beef is even more delicious when served with mashed potatoes, fried rice, or something on the green end of the spectrum, like roasted brussels sprouts, broccoli, or asparagus.
Are you looking for a fall-themed dessert to make following a holiday dinner? Then cranberry pie is definitely something to consider. It has a thick crust and creamy filling made of cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, and ginger.
We believe that’s the ideal ratio of sweet and savory flavors that will leave all your family and friends wanting more.
We really hope that these alternatives helped you find a cranberry alternative for your recipe. The next time you run out of cranberries, you’ll know precisely which fruits you may substitute.
If you opt for flavor, frozen cranberries are the way to go. If you opt for texture, lingonberries are the alternative you should definitely consider.
Bonus idea — use a combination of two or more fruits for a juicy holiday spin. For example, a combination of cherries and raspberries would be great for the cranberry pie we mentioned earlier.