Homemade Dried Cranberries + Fresh Cranberry Ideas

Fresh cranberries + dried cranberries

Cranberries are beautiful, but boy do they pack a mean sour punch. We usually consume cranberries in the form of sauce after it has been boiled down with heaps of sugar, or dried cranberries as a tasty and handy snack. Sometimes we’ll have cranberries in juice, and then possibly mix this juice with vodka, lime and ice and give it a fancy urban chic name – The Cosmopolitan.

We have all heard about how healthy cranberries are. They are not, however, healthy in any of the aforementioned ways – and yes, dried included.

Health Benefits of Fresh Cranberries

The health benefits of cranberries are rather astounding. Like their cousin the blueberry, they are powered up with anti-oxidants. They are most well known for their ability to treat and prevent urinary tract and bladder infections and have also been linked to preventing kidney stones, lowering cholesterol, reducing oral diseases, helping gastro disorders and even preventing stroke and some cancers.

With that said, when was the last time you ate a hardy handful of fresh cranberries? The answer is likely never. Why? Because these radiant red berries are the tartest, sourest little devils. So how do you use them when they’re in season! Well, as it turns out, there are a quite a few ways!


7 Uses For Fresh Cranberries

If you want to eat cranberries in their fresh, whole food form, there are a number of ways to consume them.

  1. Smoothies. Toss frozen cranberries in with your favourite smoothie recipe, or with other berrries in a smoothie.
  2. Juice. Juice your cranberries, or buy plain unsweetened cranberry juice. Add your favourite natural sweetener, or down it as a shot.
  3. Oatmeal/Porridge. Throw a handful into your porridge in the morning and cook everything together.
  4. Baked Goods. Cook them into muffins, breads, bars or fruit crumbles.
  5. Mocktails. Make a cranberry simple syrup, or add a couple of frozen cranberries to a glass of kombucha.
  6. Cooked Grains or Stuffing. Cook a few cranberries with your rice, quinoa, wild rice, millet or buckwheat, or incorporate them into your favourite stuffing recipe.
  7. Cranberry Jam or Chutney. Create a low-sugar jam using a small amount of maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar, or mix cranberries with other seasonal sweet fruits like apples. Or, try a savory chutney with onions, garlic, ginger and apple cider vinegar.


How to Make Dried Cranberries

Homemade Dried Cranberries

A few years ago, just after the holidays, fresh cranberries were on sale everywhere. I bought four bags and stuck them in my freezer with the plan that I would dehydrate them myself and have fresh dried cranberries without any preservatives or sweeteners.

So I defrosted them, soaked them for about 4 hours in maple syrup (they needed some sweetness right?), sliced them in half, spread them out on a dehydrator tray, stuck them in my dehydrator and left them alone.

Eight hours later, they were done. So exciting. I took a handful and popped them in my mouth and holy Dinah! SOUR. They were little pellets of sour.

What did I learn from this? The sweet dried cranberries we buy at the store are saturated in sugar – whether with regular sugar or sweetened with apple juice . There are so many other naturally sweet dried fruits available that store-bought dried cranberries were excommunicated from my cupboard.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make homemade dried cranberries. You’ll get all of the benefits, without the sugar cornucopia. They are definitely going to be sour, but they’re perfect for when you want to add a bit of tartness to a dish, in your granola or trail mix, or on a smoothie bowl.

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Homemade Dried Cranberries

  • Author: Meghan Telpner
  • Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cup 1x


These babies are sour, but that sour quality is what makes them so great for us!


  • 4 cups fresh cranberries, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup


  1. Cut your cranberries in half, then toss with the maple syrup.
  2. Spread the cranberries out on your dehydrator sheets, then dehydrate at 115 degrees for 8-10 hours.
  3. If you don’t have a dehydrator, spread the cranberries on a parchment-lined baking sheet and dry at your oven’s lowest temperature until dry. This may take anywhere from 2-4 hours.
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Category: Snack

How about you? Do you have any other ideas for using fresh cranberries? Please share in the comments.

dried Cranberries

Header photo: iStock/Magone
Photo: iStock/margouillatphotos


  1. Hi there from Minnesota. I was planning to dry cranberries and mix it with dried lemon peel, dried lemon grass and dried ginger to make my own detox natural homemade tea.
    I love my store bought herbal tea. I drink tea three times everyday, but just a thought maybe it is much better to make your own tea because you know what’s in it.

  2. My friend and I make home made Turkey Pot Pies and use both stuffing and cranberries (my idea) in them. No one wants mushy stuffing, so we bake stuffing balls (her idea) to get them a little crispy on the outside before tossing them last into the filling just before stuffing the pies. It’s like Turkey dinner in a pie and it’s heavenly!

  3. I keep various dried fruits on hand just to add sometimes to peanut/nut/seed butter on bananas or apples or rice cakes or just added to a spoonful of such butters, and sometimes just mixed with nuts/seeds etc. They last a long time for me because I only feel like eating them occasionally.

    But if something has too much sugar (naturally or because juice is added, as for dried cranberries) – another solution is to just eat less of it and less often. The bag of dried cranberries (sweetened with juice) claims 40 grams is a serving (1/3 cup). Ha ha ha ha ha. Try single digits in grams as a serving. This is why my little digital kitchen scale is so handy even though I’m kitchen-challenged and eat very simply. If I just want 4 grams of something, I can have that. Freedom!

  4. Since being diagnosed with kidney failure, I have used a lot of cranberries, red grapes (etc from Anthony William) which has my GFR #s slowly rising (I believe). Thanks for these recipes and ideas for sugarless dried. Maybe a little cane sugar, the darkest demerara brown sugar or apples like you suggest.

  5. Do the cranberries need to soak in the maple syrup for four hours, as detailed in your story, or do they just get a quick coating, and then into the dehydrator? Do they turn out differently?
    Thanks for your time.

  6. thanks so much for this recipe I can not wait to dry some fresh farmers market cranberries, sour foods are good for us and I believe cranberries can encourage us to eat a little sour. . . just pair them with something sweeter like apples as you suggest. . .I plan to add the dried cranberries to an American Indian recipe for pumpkin bread…in place of raisins.

  7. Want to make dried cranberries with dehydrater. Cannot find instructions how to sweeten with apple sauce or juice. Also they are frozen. I do want some sugar but a healthy way

  8. These are sooooooo tasty and easy. I’ve tried all kinds of different ways to preserve cranberries, this is by far the best way to me. God Bless

  9. toss in a salad for a little bit of zip along with a good cheese like feta :-) I am going to dehydrate some today. Thank you for the information. Found you via google search “how to dehydrate fresh cranberries”.

  10. Made these using 6 cups of cranberries with 1/2 cup maple syrup. Should have thought about the slats in my dehydrator first, because they are too wide and had a lot fall through! Took a total of 11 hours. Very happy with the results; going to bake me some orange-cranberry muffins!

  11. Hi Meghan:

    Thank you for the recipe. Can you please tell me how you store these; as freezing them is not appealing to me?

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