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Citrus Ginger Cranberry Sauce Recipe

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Published on April 2, 2020

Key Takeaways

  • Julie is a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in oncology nutrition with a passion for helping cancer patients eat well before, during and after treatment.
  • For more recipes and nutrition tips from Julie, visit

A healthy new twist on a traditional holiday side dish! In this video, Julie Lanford, “The Cancer Dietitian,” provides easy-to-follow instructions for her citrus ginger cranberry sauce. Watch now and learn how to make this healthy and delicious side dish for your next family holiday. 


  • 12-oz bag fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • zest of one small orange (about 1 tablespoon, or chop the peel)
  • 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger (chopped)


Transcript | Citrus Ginger Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Julie Lanford:
Hey everyone, this is Julie the cancer dietitian. And I am here today on Patient Power's page to share another one of my favorite holiday recipes. If you don't know me, I'm an oncology dietitian, so I'm a board-certified specialist in oncology nutrition. And I'm a registered dietitian, which means I have an actual degree in nutrition, but I've been working in oncology my entire career. And my favorite thing is to help my clients figure out how healthy eating can be delicious.

So, I teach cooking classes at the nonprofit that I work for in North Carolina. And this is one of the recipes that I actually taught recently. It's one of my favorites to have at my holiday meals. It's delicious, because there's a little bit of sweet, but it's tart. It is cranberries, and we are going to do a citrus ginger recipe. So, if you're somebody who typically buys cranberries in a can, I know that's really easy, but I promise you this is so easy and delicious. And cranberries are in season in the fall, that's why we really like to use them. They're also a great source of fiber, vitamin C, lots of antioxidants. I think they're delicious. Of course, I like things that are a little bit tart, so it might just be me.

But, typically, with the cranberry recipes you find a lot of added sugar. Now, I would argue that you need to add sugar to cranberries, because they are super tart, and they have no sweetness at all, so you probably want to add some sugar to it. But what I find is, usually, the recipes call for cranberries and then a lot of sugar, and that's kind of about it, so the flavor isn't particularly complex. I love the taste of ginger in my cranberries. So, what we have today is a combination of some ginger but also some citrus flavors.

So, kind of the basics, right? Of course, you have to have cranberries. So I have one bag, it's a 12-ounce bag of cranberries. That's how you typically buy them. You can actually buy them, and stick the bag straight in the freezer, if you think you want to have this recipe again a month down the road, and the cranberries are on sale. But you just rinse the cranberries off, and then dump them in your pans. So, I've already done the rinsing. They're, of course, beautiful berries. And, again, they have a lot of different nutrients in them.

So, we put those in, and then you need a liquid to help cook them. So, we're going to use a 1/2 cup of water combined with a 1/2 cup of orange juice. So, we have that here. And I'm somebody who likes to minimize the number of dishes that I get dirty when I'm cooking, so I've combined the water and the orange juice in the same measuring cup. We put those in.

Now, this is when it gets a little bit more complicated, but we are going to add 1/2 a cup of sugar, and that's going to give us our sweet flavor. Now you, of course, can alter that however you want. So, if you think that sounds like a lot, and the recipe is too sweet for you, you are welcome to tone that down. But I would not start out by eating cranberries with no sugar in them, because it's a little hard to tolerate.

Okay. What else do we have in here? We use fresh ginger, so I like to use a whole tablespoon of minced fresh ginger. And ginger looks like this. It's a little root, and I'm going to give you a little tip on how you can peel it, because at first I would actually just use a knife to cut it all off, and I would lose a lot of ginger that way. Some people use a peeler, but it's really awkward with this kind of finger shapes. So, if you're not aware, you can actually take a spoon and peel the ginger just with a spoon. And so, when you use the spoon it just comes right off, and then the minimum amount of skin comes, and it's just perfect, and then you can cut it.

So, I went ahead and did that and minced my ginger. So, I have a whole tablespoon here. If you don't like the strong taste of ginger, you could use less. If you're looking for shortcuts, you could probably use ground ginger. It is not going to have the same flavor. And what I want, I really want that kind of spice from the ginger. It's also more plant nutrients when you use the whole plant. So, we're going with a whole tablespoon of that in there.

And then, well, the way we make the citrusy, if you've seen any recipes for cranberry relish, a lot of times it's just the cranberries, and then the peel on an orange, and then you puree that up in a food processor. And so, this is sort of a take on that. We will use half an orange. And what I did was I just went ahead and cut up the whole orange. So, like if I'm using the orange for something else, then I might use just the peel in this recipe. But since I'm not using the orange for anything else and I don't believe in wasting food we went ahead, I cut the entire half of an orange, and cut it into little pieces.

And then, we'll go ahead and put that into the cranberries as well. Put those in. The peel is really an important part of this. It gives extra flavor, but the peel also has a lot of nutrition in it. So, there have been studies done on components of citrus peel that show they help the body to fight disease. And so, as much as possible, if we can include that in our recipes, that's great. If I make smoothies, I do go ahead and add some of the orange peel into smoothies that I have oranges in.

Okay, what else do we need? I think the only other thing on our list is, I got my recipe here, some honey to make a little bit extra sticky. So, I'm going to use 2 tablespoons of honey. And I'm going to give you another little tip here, a useful cooking tip. If you're putting your honey, like this is going to be in a tablespoon, but if you're going to use a measuring cup like this, honey's really sticky. You put it in there, it gets stuck. Well, here's your tip, so all you need to do is put a tiny little bit of oil into your measuring device, make sure it's good and coated. And then, the honey will slide right off. I promise you, it's like a miracle.

So, I'm going to put 2 tablespoons of honey into my cranberries. And that is pretty much it before you do the cooking. So, the tip on this is that you mix it all together, you cook it up. And, honestly, this really takes only like 5 minutes. So, all it takes up the time for the water to heat up to boil, and to make the cranberries sort of pop open. And then, you turn the heat off, and you let it cool.

And then, here is the last step for these delicious cranberries. You want to add some candied ginger to the cranberries once it's cool. If you add the ginger, the candied ginger in when it's still hot, it's just kind of going to melt it away. And we want it to be crystallized, and part of a crunch in the recipe. So, usually, I cook my cranberries the night before just like this. It really takes almost no time at all. And then, I put it in the fridge. And then, the next day is when I add the candied ginger.

So, I'm going to show you this. This is Trader Joe's brand candied ginger. They don't pay me to promote their stuff, it's just one of my favorites. And the reason that I like this one is it comes in, you can see, little pieces like this. So, for those of you who are having nausea because of treatments, and we talk about using ginger, this would be a good way also for that. It is actual ginger pieces. And I have purchased crystallized ginger at the store, like in a spice jar. I meant to have one here today, but I forgot. And I don't like that kind as much, because they're very hard. And it's a lot harder to chop.

So, if you don't have a Trader Joe's, that's okay. You might be able to go out to like an Asian grocery store, or just get the crystallized ginger in the spice section of your regular grocery store. It'll be fine, it's just a little harder to cut. But these are my favorites. And so, all I do is cut them into little slices. And then, I cut them sideways, so that we have little pieces of ginger. And, actually, when I did this in my cooking class, I don't know if you can kind of see the little pieces here, about tiny little minced pieces is what we're looking for.

When I did this for the cooking class, we sprinkled them on top, and it was very beautiful. But what you want to do is you would mix them in. And then, these add a little cup of ginger flavor when you're eating it. So, again, this is the citrus ginger cranberries. It is one of my favorites. And the thing that you've been do, of course, you have it on the side of things like your turkey, and your mashed potatoes, and all those kinds of things.

But the piece that I really like is that you can use it later. I like to put it as jelly on my toast. I might put it on like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I might use it in yogurt. So, if you buy plain yogurt, and you want to have a little bit of fruit flavor in it you can put it in there. So, there are lots of different uses afterwards for this delicious recipe.

I hope you enjoy it. Try it out. You can check out my web page at for more recipes. Or I have lots of recipes over on Patient Power’s page, so be sure you check it out. Thanks so much for joining me today.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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