If you need a cranberry substitute around the holidays or any other time throughout the year, you’re in luck since there are many alternatives that would give you the same berry goodness in your cranberry recipes.
What Is a Cranberry?
A cranberry is a small red fruit found on cranberry shrubs or vines and is often described as bitter or sour. They are high in nutrients and can be labeled as a superfood.
What Do Cranberries Taste Like?
Due to their low sugar content and high acidity levels, cranberries are sour and tangy, with slightly bitter notes if eaten fresh. They can be used in savory and sweet recipes due to their slightly lemon-like taste.
Common Uses for Cranberry
- Dried cranberries – used in baking, salads, and other dishes
- Cranberry juice – enjoyed as a drink or used in sauces
- Cranberry sauce and jelly – often served with turkey at Thanksgiving
- Stuffing and snacks – they’re often mixed into stuffing or added to snack mixes
How to Choose a Substitute for Cranberry
- Dried cranberries – if you need to replace dried cranberries in your dish or snack mix, use another dried fruit for the same consistency and texture.
- Sauces and juices – choose another tangy, sour fruit to use in juices or sauces where you need a cranberry substitute.
- Baked goods – replace fresh or dried cranberries with other tangy fruits in baked goods.
- Salads – if you’re using cranberries in salads, choosing a healthy alternative would be best.
5 Best Cranberry Substitute Options
1. Frozen, Fresh, Or Dried Cranberries
Depending on your dish, it may call for fresh, frozen, or even dried cranberries, and most of these dishes can allow you to use a fresh, frozen, or dried cranberry as a 1:1 replacement. Lively Table’s cranberry muffin recipe calls for fresh cranberries, but they have a tip to follow if you only have dried cranberries.
2. Red Currants
Red currants are the closest substitute for cranberries if you can’t find cranberries in any form. They have a similar tart flavor and work well as a 1:1 substitute in most recipes. Food.com has a recipe for red currant sauce if you can’t make cranberry sauce.
Cherries are sweet and tart, so they will work incredibly well in sweeter baked goods. If you have a sweet batch of cherries, adjust the sugar ratio in your recipe for a similar result. Food Struct compares the nutritional information of both berries.
If you can’t find any fresh berries, you can try adding some apricots to your recipe. It has a tart, flavor reminiscent of citrus but is sweeter than cranberries. It works well in recipes where you would need cranberries, including in some savory recipes. Olivia’s Cuisine suggests an apricot sauce with turkey.
If you’re looking for the cheapest alternative to cranberries, raisins might be your best bet. But don’t try to use it in sauces since it won’t have a close enough flavor to replace cranberries. Raisins make for a good substitute for dried cranberries in almost any dish. Prevention.com compares both dried fruit.
Tips for Cranberry Substitution
Substituting Dried Cranberries
When substituting dried cranberries, and they won’t need to be rehydrated, you’ll have success with most other dried berries and raisins, as most dried berries are sweet, chewy, and slightly tart.
Cranberry Sauce Substitute
Whether you’re making your sauce from frozen or fresh cranberries, choose an alternative that you like the taste of or are similar to cranberries’ tart and bitter profile, such as red currants, cherries, or raspberries.
Substitute for Cranberry Jelly
If you’re serving cranberry jelly with your thanksgiving protein like turkey, most other jellies will do the trick, but make sure you like the taste. You’re looking for mild but sweet jelly, like apricot, peach, or even apple jelly.