Homemade cranberry juice has a multitude of health benefits and is excellent for sorting out UTIs. But (like most healthy things), it doesn’t taste great.
I used to force it down my mouth with my eyes closed and immediately screw my face because it tasted so sharp and bitter.
Now I happily drink it. Sometimes I even choose to drink it when I don’t have to!
To get there, I did some experimentation. I added a load of different things to my homemade cranberry juice (1lb of cranberries to 1-quart water) and tasted it.
This article reveals my results and answers the question ‘how to sweeten cranberry juice?’.
The best way to sweeten cranberry juice is with honey. Honey adds extra nutrients to the juice, and you only need a small amount. You can also dilute the juice with either water or another, sweeter fruit juice like apple or orange.
How to sweeten cranberry juice without sugar
Sugar is a simple and obvious solution, but there are many reasons you may want to avoid sugar.
I personally try to steer clear of excess refined sugar if I can.
So, I’ve put together a comprehensive list of ways you can sweeten cranberry juice without sugar.
You can use one of these options or combine them to make a DELICIOUS drink.
Honey is a FANTASTIC alternative to sugar.
It’s nice and sweet, and if you use raw honey, it has several health benefits of its own. Just make sure you add the honey when the juice is cool.
High temperatures destroy some of the beneficial properties of raw honey.
This was my favorite additive. I thought the delicate flavor of the honey matched the cranberry well. It wasn’t as obvious you’d added something as it was with sugar.
Mix it with another fruit juice
The cranberry juice you buy in the store is usually already cut with another, less sharp juice.
You can re-create this at home.
Apple juice, orange juice, grape juice, pear juice, pomegranate juice, and pineapple juice are all great options.
Ginger ale is another option. Not a fruit juice, but nice and sweet.
These juices each add a unique flavor, but the overarching taste is still cranberry because of how strong it is to begin with. The more extra juice you add, the sweeter your drink will get.
If you add several different juices, it becomes a cocktail! Just be wary of the color because it will change. Remember in art when you mix all the different colors together and you get a brown sludge?
That happens with juices too.
Sweeteners are commonly used as a sugar replacement. You use them in tea or coffee, so why not your cranberry juice?
Be careful not to add too much sweetener or you might find it tastes bitter. The opposite of what we’re trying to do!
Add one sweetener at a time and taste the juice before deciding to add more. I found I only needed one per glass.
Dilute the juice with water/soda water
If you like the taste of the cranberry juice but find it a bit too strong, try diluting it with water or soda water.
This didn’t alter the taste but took away some of the initial tartness. The cranberry juice still tasted sharp, but didn’t make me screw my face up.
You can also use tonic water (diet is best) or coconut water for a bit of a variation.
Pouring the drink over ice made it extra refreshing and helped with the dilution.
Add some lemon or lime juice
Lemon or lime juice enhances the taste of the cranberry juice and at the same time takes the edge off the tartness.
I wasn’t a fan of using lemon juice by itself, but when I added a few drops to a glass of diluted cranberry juice or cranberry juice with honey, it helped to brighten the flavor.
Add some salt
This might seem like a strange option, but salt can help suppress the juice’s bitter taste and bring out some natural sweetness.
You only need a tiny amount, as the salt can quickly become overpowering. A small pinch per glass is enough. I added way too much initially.
When I tried it, I was surprised by the results. The drink didn’t taste as sweet as with sugar or honey, but it was definitely more palatable and didn’t taste as tart.
It tasted sort of flat, as if the flavors had been slightly dulled.
Add cucumber or celery
Cucumber and celery are often used in alcoholic drinks. They bring notes of sweetness and help to mellow out stronger tasting drinks.
If you’ve ever drunk water infused with water, imagine mixing that flavor with your cranberry juice.
It definitely helped balance the sourness of the cranberries, but I would advise diluting the drink as well as adding the cucumber or celery. This mellows the drink out even more.
Use it in a smoothie
If you’re determined to get cranberry juice into your diet but can’t stand the taste, even after adding something sweet, a smoothie could be what you’re looking for.
It’s also a great idea if you’re getting a bit bored of plain cranberry juice.
Mix it in with your favorite fruits and a bit of milk or yogurt. You won’t even know it’s there!
Pineapple, bananas, and raspberries are my favorite ingredients (along with the cranberry juice).
If you have any leftover cranberry pulp, you can add that too.
How to sweeten cranberry juice with sugar
Sugar is the first thing that springs to mind, which isn’t surprising.
After all, sugar’s main purpose is to sweeten things.
And it worked. For my taste (which I’d say is pretty average), I added 5g of sugar per 100ml of cranberry juice. But you could get away with less.
You have to heat the cranberry juice slightly to make sure the sugar dissolves. This only took a few seconds on the stove.
You can also add the sugar while the cranberries are cooking if you’re making the juice at home.