healthyish cranberry sauce

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce with Pears

Instant Pot Cranberry Pear Sauce for Thanksgiving

I figured it was about time to drop a Thanksgiving recipe here and you know I’m not about to get all complicated on you now! So here we are, with a super simple cranberry sauce recipe that will leave your friends and family totally impressed with minimal effort on your part. This recipe also leans more heavily on the fruit component for sweetness and has less added sugar than a lot of the other versions you’ll find. Actually, it has about half the added sugar and I didn’t even miss it! Just tart enough, plus more texture from the addition of dried cherries.

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce with Oranges and Pears

The Case for Going Homemade

So it seems like every year I cross paths with at least one person who didn’t know homemade cranberry sauce was a thing. The canned stuff is such a staple and let’s be honest, it is one less thing to worry about when you have a lot of other dishes that require attention: brining, chopping, oven coordination, all of the things. I get it!

But cranberry sauce is so dang simple to make and better yet, it’s one of the few items that can be prepped ahead of time (like days ahead of time) so I say go for it. With just six ingredients, you can make a colorful and nutrient-packed sauce that everyone will love. Plus, I would argue that this is the most versatile item to re-purpose in leftovers (more on that below).

If you have an instant pot you can set it and forget it. Literally just dump everything in, stir to combine, lock the lid in place and cook on high pressure for two minutes. If you don’t have an IP, you can certainly use the old tried-and-true saucepan method, it just requires a little bit more hands-on time. Use this recipe for an estimated cook time if you do it that way!

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce with Oranges and Pears

One reason I cut back on the added sugar is because there’s extra fruit, juice, and citrus zest to make up for it - you don’t want it to be too tart after all! The end result is really bright and fresh tasting - a nice balance of orange, pear, cranberry and cherry.

Repurposing Cranberry Sauce

If you end up with leftovers, here are a few different ways to use up it without eating it on top of turkey for the next week:

  • Oatmeal or toast topping (pairs great with nut butter)

  • Smoothie add-in

  • Sandwich spread - I especially love the look of this turkey club!

  • Swirl it in plain yogurt or cottage cheese for extra flavor

  • Jazz up a grain bowl

  • Make an appetizer in a pinch: just open up a block of cream cheese, spread the sauce on top, serve with seedy crackers

  • Try it in a glaze on fish or chicken

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce with Pears

Did I convince you to try giving this one a go?

If you are contributing something to your Thanksgiving meal but feel overwhelmed with taking on one of the major items, I think this would be an excellent choice. I have a good feeling that once your guests try it, they’ll never go for the canned stuff again! Just be sure to circle back around and let me know how it goes.

Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce with Pears

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 2 cups (16 servings) | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes
Nutrition info: 52 cals | 0 g fat | 13 g carbohydrate | 0 g protein (per 2 Tbsp serving)


  • 12 oz fresh cranberries

  • 1 orange, zest and juice only

  • 1 pear, cored and chopped

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup 100% orange juice

  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries


  1. Add all ingredients to instant pot, stir well to combine and lock the lid in place.

  2. Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes.

  3. After 5 minutes, release the steam valve manually.

  4. Once able to safely open the lid, stir well and transfer sauce to a storage container or mason jar to cool. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it sits. Refrigerate and use within 5 days.

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