Are you a fan of cranberry juice, cranberry syrups, jams, and cranberry toppings? It’s hard not to be a fan as it tastes uniquely sweet with a tart-like sour flavor. The soft and juicy texture and flavor soothe your tastebuds and make a fantastic addition to any dessert!
That being said, what if you run out of cranberries? Have you ever thought of what could serve as an alternative if you have no cranberries available at a local store around you?
Well, luckily, we have you covered. If you relish cranberries as much as we do, you must definitely know the best alternatives to cranberries if you ever run out of them. Please read our article to find the best substitutes for cranberries around you that are tasty, healthy, and readily available anywhere.
What Do Cranberries Taste Like?
Before you look for a substitute for cranberries, you must be aware of what cranberries actually taste like!
In general, fresh cranberries are extremely tart, like that of lemons, and only have a tinge of sweetness. The taste is exceptionally invigorating and addictive, and cranberries also have high acidity levels.
Cranberries have low sugar levels and are incredibly healthy for the calorie-conscious. They are rich in antioxidants and possess several other health benefits that we have mentioned ahead in the article.
The texture is soft and juicy, which almost melts in your mouth. It is flavorful and hence is used as a topping in several desserts and recipes, as well as a flavoring agent.
Now that you know what cranberries taste like, we make it simpler for you to choose the best cranberry substitutes for your tastebuds.
7 Best Cranberry Substitutes
The first substitute that tops the charts is cherries. Cherries are sweet, with a tinge of sourness and tanginess like lemon. Since their texture and properties are more or less like cranberries, soft and juicy, they can easily replace them as toppings in desserts, make sauces, or eat them raw.
You can also make jams and jellies with them because they are sweet and juicy with perfect acidity levels to balance the sweetness.
If used as an alternative, you can easily use it in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute to cranberries.
Did You Know: Cranberries have only 45 calories per cup, making them a low-calorie, fiber-rich superfood.
2. Dried Barberries
Barberries are the origin of Persia. They are harvested manually and eventually sun-dried in a warm climate, then sold dried commercially.
Dried barberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and high fiber as well. It has a vibrant red color that adds to the appealing looks of your recipes and preparations. Talk about tempting looks and nutrition at the same time, right?
The best part is that they are naturally sweet and tangy, making them addictive and tasty. While you can use the dried version to make sauces and jams, the berries can be used as toppings for fresh desserts and cakes.
Unlike cranberries in artificially sweetened markets, the naturally sweet barberries genuinely stand out to their taste.
Use them in the exact quantities as you would use dried cranberries. If using raw berries, use them as per the desired taste and color as they are extremely sweet.
One fruit that more or less matches the taste of cranberries is pomegranate. Pomegranate seeds make for an extremely healthy snack. Use them in salads, blend them into a juice, or eat them raw.
Pomegranate seeds make for great, edible summer snacks rich in fiber and antioxidants. They taste sour and sweet, just like cranberries. Plus, they are crunchy, which adds to the fun of eating them.
Pomegranate also has a high water content that keeps you hydrated, especially during summers. Plus, they are not as acidic as compared to cranberries.
You may get confused between peaches and apricots because they look similar, so read the labels carefully when you buy them.
Apricots may not look similar to cranberries, but they are soft and mushy. They cannot be used as toppings in any recipe because the color is very different from cranberries. However, you can use them as fillings within desserts as they are sweet to taste.
Also, do not add sugar when using apricots for recipes, as they are naturally sweet. You can use one cup of apricots if you substitute it for the same quantity of cranberries.
Stew the apricots before using them, so the texture becomes palpable and easy to mix with recipes, more or less jelly-like!
To be told, apples are readily available and more versatile than cranberries. Plus, they perfectly match the taste of cranberries too. Although you cannot use them as toppings when substituting for cranberry.
You can boil or stew the apples for a better texture to mix as stuffings in desserts or inside pies. Be it sweet or savory recipes; apples fit in well with any preparation pretty easily. You can play around with the consistency as you desire, either crunchy or soft.
To substitute with cranberries, you can use one medium-sized apple and make sure to mash it. The color is very different compared to cranberries, so don’t expect anything close.
Raisins make for a good substitute for dried cranberries. They are sweeter than dried cranberries, with only a tinge of sourness like grapes or berries. You can use them as toppings on cereals and desserts or even use them as fillings within cakes, pies, bread, etc.
Raisins are available in seedless and seeded forms like cranberries, commercially available in supermarkets.
However, raisins are very sweet, so you may want to be careful with the quantities and only use a handful. Else make sure to dilute the sweetness with water before adding raisins instead of cranberries.
Another closest substitute to cranberries can be currants. They are not too sweet but have a unique and irresistible flavour, which seems balanced, just like cranberries. Currants are readily available in all seasons. In fact, they are better substitutes for dried cranberries.
Currants have high antioxidant properties and several other health benefits, making them a nutrition-rich alternative. You can use it to make sauces, jams, dessert fillings, candies, and all that you use cranberries for.
Use it in a 1:1 ratio with cranberries; the color may be a bit dark, not as bright as cranberry, but looks equally appealing.
What are the benefits of fresh cranberries?
Due to its impressive array of phytonutrients, this is why you should incorporate cranberries in your daily diet:
Improves cardiovascular health
Cranberries can help manage risk factors associated with several heart diseases. It also helps manage blood pressure and blood circulation risks associated with a heart attack.
Treats Urinary Tract Infection
Cranberries contain high levels of antioxidants, particularly, Proanthocyanidins (PACs). These antioxidants are known to prevent bacteria from sticking on the urinary tract walls, thereby preventing urinary tract infections.
Good for Oral Health
The PACs in cranberries also prevent oral bacteria from sticking on teeth surfaces. According to research conducted by the Center for Oral Biology, they block the binding surfaces for bacteria on the teeth, preventing tooth decay as well.
Rich in Nutrients
Cranberries contain high amounts of fiber that aids in digestion reduce the risk of heart diseases, cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, etc.
It also has Vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble antioxidant. It prevents free radicals from damaging your body. Therefore, it helps prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s, cataracts, Cancer, etc.
The antioxidant-rich fruit aids in iron absorption boost immunity and help faster collagen production for healing wounds.
Q. What is the shelf life of cranberries?
The shelf life of cranberries is anywhere between 3-4 weeks. You can store them by freezing them for up to 2 months. However, they lose their properties if stored for too long and get wrinkles, indicating they aren’t suitable for us anymore.
Q. When is the best time to buy cranberries?
Autumn months, anywhere around September October, is the best time to avail of cranberries. They are available in frozen, canned forms or even as jams and jellies so you can procure them year-round.
Q. Do Cranberries have a lot of sugar?
No! Surprisingly, cranberries are amongst a few fruits that taste sweet but have minimal sugar content. Instead, it is a calorie-scarce super fruit, rich in phytonutrients, offering various health benefits.
If using it for desserts, adjust the sugar levels such that the natural sweetness of cranberries seems more defined, tangy yet balanced sweet.
Q. Can you preserve cranberries?
Yes. In fact, you can preserve them by making jams and jellies or candies out of cranberries. Else, you can even store them in a can with some cranberry juice. You could refrigerate them to increase their shelf life.
Q. Can we use frozen cranberries for baking?
Yes. In fact, if cranberries are not available around the year, you can easily store them in the freezer and eat as desired.
Just make sure to defrost them in the refrigerator the night before you use them for baking. It helps in cooking the cranberries quickly. But, do not leave frozen cranberries out at room temperature; else they can attract contaminants.
Flavorful, rich in nutrients, and surprisingly sweet and healthy at the same time – cranberries are considered to be one of the best superfruits across the globe! Therefore, looking for substitutes for this amazing wonder fruit can be pretty challenging.
Luckily, we have covered the 7 best substitutes for cranberries that are healthy and delicious at the same time. The best part is that they are easily available and versatile in terms of flavor yet match as substitutes for cranberry.
According to us in the list, the best one is dried barberries if you use dried cranberries, cherries in raw form, and currants. We have also included some health benefits of cranberries for you and commonly asked about cranberries in general.
Please read our article above and tell us which works as your favorite cranberry substitute.
Until then, relish the deliciousness of cranberries, folks!
Milburn Adler is a food enthusiast and connoisseur of wine. His area of expertise is food fusions and gourmet foods. He lives to experiment with new recipes every day and spends most of his day looking for fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables.