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12 Best Cranberry Substitutes: Tart Ideas

I’m delighted to say there are several cranberry substitutes you can use in cooking.

Several foods taste like cranberries, from sour berries to some citrus fruits. So I’ll cover the finest cranberry alternatives and how to utilize them in your favorite recipes.

Keep reading to see various options for trying something new or making a last-minute substitute!

Best Cranberry Substitutes featured image | Girl Meets Food

What are cranberries?

Cranberries are a type of berry that grows in moist, acidic soil on evergreen bushes. They originated in North America, and locals have relied on their medicinal and nutritional benefits for millennia.

Cranberries’ tart taste is a welcome addition to both sweet and savory recipes.

Their rich vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidant content aids in immune function and inflammation control.

Cranberries are now cultivated and consumed worldwide for their distinct flavor and health advantages.

12 best cranberry substitutes

Small bowl full of cranberries stands on a paper sheet | Girl Meets Food
  • Dried cranberries

If you can’t get fresh cranberries when you need them, dried cranberries are an excellent alternative. They go great in salads, trail mixes, and even certain baked items.

I put their adaptability to the test by preparing vanilla bean cranberry bars. The recipe turned out perfectly good with dried cranberries substituted in!

  • Cranberry juice

You may also use cranberry juice in place of fresh cranberries. It’s just as tangy as fresh cranberries, but with a touch more sweetness. Cranberry sauce lovers and bakers alike will find this a welcome alternative.

I made an effort to use cranberry juice to create a salad dressing. It was really easy, quick and delicious!

  • Pomegranate seeds

Pomegranate seeds taste like cranberries and lend color to dishes. They’re rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.

Fresh or frozen pomegranate seeds can be used in salads, sauces or as a topping for oatmeal and yogurt.

My favorite recipe featuring this ingredient is a pomegranate feta salad. It’s a wonderful idea for the holiday season!

Check out this comprehensive list of best pomegranate replacements if you wish to learn more about it.

  • Dried cherries

To get the same tart flavor and chewy texture of cranberries, dried cherries are another fantastic option. You can use them in all sorts of recipes, from dessert fillings to salad toppings.

While making almond granola bars, I swapped out the cranberries for dried cherries. Cherries brought a tangy, fruity flavor, while almonds contributed a subtle nutty undertone.

Moreover, both fresh and frozen cherries, with their balanced sweetness and tartness, work wonderfully.

I tested this idea by making cherry crisp one night. It was an instant hit with my family!

  • Sour cherries

Sour cherries can replace cranberries if you can get them fresh or frozen. These tart cherries are often used in pies and other baked foods.

Sauces and marinades are another great application for sour cherries. A sour cherry sauce can be made with just a few simple components, such as sugar and lemon juice.

  • Red currants

Red currants are a lesser-known cranberry alternative. They can make tart jams and jellies with a pop of bright red color.

You can also check out these currant substitutes for more delicious flavors!

  • Lingonberries

Scandinavian cuisine frequently substitutes cranberries with lingonberries. Jams, sauces, and sweets contain these tart fruits rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.

Knowing that salted butter and lingonberry jam can be mixed to make lingonberry butter came as a nice surprise to me. It’s a breeze to prepare and tastes fantastic!

  • Rhubarb

Rhubarb’s acidic flavor makes it a popular ingredient in many sweets. Because of its comparable taste to cranberries, it makes for a wonderful alternative.

Pies, crumbles, sauces, and compote are just some of the many delicious uses for rhubarb.

  • Black currants

Cranberries can be substituted with tart black currants. They are vitamin C and antioxidant-rich and used in jams, jellies, and syrups.

  • Raspberries

As raspberries share the acidity of cranberries, they can often be used as a replacement for cranberries in baking. They provide fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

To my surprise, the addition of raspberries to a cranberry muffin recipe produced delicious results.

Love baked desserts? Check out these maple extract substitutes for your recipes!

  • Grapefruit

Grapefruit is a sharp substitute for cranberries. Salad dressings, cocktails, and marinades may all benefit from using the juice.

Grapefruit’s natural sourness pairs nicely with sweeteners like honey and sugar. I’ve tried making a grapefruit vinaigrette with honey and it turned out surprisingly good!

  • Lemon juice

If all else fails, lemon juice is the best fresh cranberry substitute. It’s a good alternative to cranberries in recipes that require a tangier taste. It adds tartness to sauces, marinades, and baked products.

I recently made a cranberry-less apple crumble with lemon juice and it was a hit!

Tips on replacing cranberries

It’s vital to remember that these substitutes may taste and feel different from cranberries. My tips:

  • Dried cherries are wonderful in baked items and sweets but not in savory dishes.
  • In most recipes, sour cherries and red currants taste like cranberries. The best way to use them is to make a jam, jelly or sauce.
  • Lingonberries are sweeter than cranberries and may need more lemon juice or vinegar to obtain the necessary tartness.
  • Raspberry and black currant substitutions are softer and may not hold up as well in some dishes as cranberries.
  • Even though grapefruit and lemon juice are more available, they can’t add much to the dish in terms of texture.

Using a replacement for cranberries successfully requires experimentation and recipe adjustments to attain the ideal flavor and texture. With a little imagination, you can make cranberry-like meals.

Cranberry substitute FAQs

Cranberries are cooking in a pot with some other ingredients | Girl Meets Food
How many calories are in cranberries?

One cup of raw cranberries contains only 46 calories.

Is unsweetened cranberry juice good for you?

Yes, unsweetened cranberry juice is good for you. It has anti-inflammatory and heart-health benefits.

Some studies have shown that drinking unsweetened cranberry juice may help lower the probability of getting a UTI.

Can I use frozen cranberries as a replacement for fresh ones?

Yes, you can use frozen cranberries in place of fresh ones in most recipes. They tend to be softer and break down more quickly, so the texture can be slightly different.

What’s the best dried cranberry substitute?

Dried cherries are the best dried cranberry substitute in many recipes.

What to substitute for cranberry jelly?

You can use raspberry jelly, blackberry jelly, or apricot jelly to substitute for cranberry jelly. You can also try preserves or jam if you don’t have any jelly on hand.

What are some substitutes for cranberry jam?

Some substitutes for cranberry jam are raspberry or black currant jam. If you prefer something sweeter, try making an apricot or peach jam.

Check out these apricot alternatives for some similar ideas!

BOTTOM LINE: pomegranate seeds, dried cherries, red currants and loads more ingredients can give your cranberry recipes a tangy taste. Use one of these substitutions if you can’t locate cranberries or just want to try something different!

Which substitution for cranberries do you like the most? Share your ideas for more cranberry recipe inspo!

Looking for more alternatives for your amazing dessert recipes? These mint substitutes and coconut water replacements are fresh and inspiring!