Mad About Berries

How to Make Cranberry Juice Taste Better?

Cranberry juice is a drink packed full of nutrients, and having it every now and then can be super healthy for you. For people who don’t enjoy the taste, actually drinking the stuff is the problem. Here’s how to make cranberry juice taste better.

Adding sugar is the simplest way to make your cranberry juice taste better, although you can also add honey, sweeteners, and fruit juice to alter the flavor. Many people choose to dilute their cranberry juice with soda water or water to mute the flavor.

Published: December 23, 2022.

Drinking cranberry juice is a healthy habit that’s worth picking up on occasion. Giving your body the essential nutrients it needs is important, and the health benefits of cranberries cannot be overstated. The rest of this article will help you find the best method to drink cranberry juice and enjoy it.

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What Makes Cranberry Juice Taste So Unique?

Cranberries, small red berries native to North America, are well-known for their extremely tart, sour, and even bitter flavor. Their extreme tartness is quite simply a product of their low sugar content, less than 4% in the entire fruit. To compare, the sugar content in the average application is about 10 to 15%.

Cranberries have their distinct bitter aftertaste largely thanks to the tannins they contain. These tannins are the same as are found in products like grapes, wine, coffee, and tea. It’s likely why some people equate the taste of cranberries to that of a very bitter wine.

If you can imagine the sharp bitterness of dark chocolate, then you’ll probably begin to understand why cranberries are almost always sweetened before they are sold; in fact, only 5% of cranberries are sold fresh, while the rest are made into purees, sauces, and drinks.

Tannins create a drying sensation in the mouth, interacting with the taste buds and creating the sensation we associate with bitterness.

It’s particularly pronounced in cranberries because there’s no natural sweetness to cut back on the tartness.

Why Drink It in the First Place?

Some people actually enjoy the sharp bitterness of cranberries, but for those of us who can’t stand it, what’s the point in drinking it anyway?

Cranberries are packed with nutrients and have seen use throughout human history for the following ailments:

  • Urinary issues
  • Stomach troubles
  • Liver problems

While a lot of myths about so-called “superfoods” curing illnesses are false, cranberry juice is actually useful in treating UTIs, although drinking cranberry juice should never be a substitute for the professional medical assessment or treatment of a doctor.

In addition to its medicinal properties, cranberry juice also contains the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin E
  • Copper
  • Vitamin K1
  • Vitamin B6

Cranberries also have some merit in preventing disease with their anti-inflammatory properties.

If you’ve heard of cranberries as a heart-healthy food, then it’s likely referring to the phytonutrients, which reduce inflammation in the arteries, warding off the formation of plaque.

Additional research suggests that cranberries are worthwhile to consume for dental hygiene, preventing the buildup of plaque on the teeth.

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How Do You Make Cranberry Juice Taste Better?

Cranberry juice is a bitter taste to get accustomed to, and adding something to the mix can help you down this heart-healthy concoction more readily.

Add Sweeteners

Of course, the first and easiest way to make cranberry juice palatable is to add sugar. There’s already a ton of sugar in cranberry juice intended to make it more appealing, but if you need to add more to get the cranberry juice down, then it will work. Start by adding 5 grams per 100 milliliters and adjust to your taste.

The juice will need to be warmed for the sugar to dissolve properly. If you’re making cranberry juice from home, then adding extra sugar during the cooking process can make it more palatable for you.

Of course, it’s important to note that adding sugar recklessly to things can negate the health effects you’re trying to impart. Store-bought cranberry juice is already loaded with sugar, and adding more can cause more harm than good.

Sugar can be addictive, lead to heart disease, and raise your cholesterol levels—the latter two are supposed to be benefits of drinking cranberry juice, so by sugaring up something that’s already super sweet, you’re effectively negating the positive effects of the cranberries.

Artificial sweeteners are not much better since they can increase your appetite for sweet things and have a number of negative side effects.

Add Honey

A better alternative is honey. While it does indeed have high sugar content as well, honey is better for your blood sugar management than processed sugar. Honey also contains a variety of nutrients, is rich in antioxidants, and can help ward off heart disease.


It’s like doubling down on the positive effects of cranberry juice. Of course, too much of a good thing can be harmful, and it’s important not to overdo it with honey- both so that your drink doesn’t taste too sweet and that your sugar intake isn’t too high.

Add Other Fruit Juices

You can purchase cranberry juice from the store that’s already pre-mixed with another type of fruit juice to give it a different flavor and tone down the intensity of the cranberry flavor.

You can replicate this at home, too, by adding different juices to create a cocktail of your own making. Experiment a little with a small glass to see what combination of juices suits your palate and improves the taste of cranberry juice for you.

Lemon and lime juice are two particularly popular options to consider. Both can seriously cut back on the bitterness of cranberry juice and add a kick of flavor that you’ll love.

Consider Diluting

Another good option to keep your cranberry juice from being too overpowering is to dilute it in water. You can do this to taste quite easily by diluting the juice, taking a sip, and repeating the process until you’ve got a repeatable drink you can stomach.

You may even find that you like the bitterness of the cranberry as an undertone when it’s not quite as intense. Make sure to add your water and then stir it thoroughly for the best results. Ice, of course, can help make the drink more refreshing and dilute it further.

You can also use soda water if you feel like adding some carbonation to add some tactile excitement to your drink and make it more interesting.

Coconut water pairs nicely with the cranberry flavor, and tonic water is another great solution for adding a bit of nuance to your cranberry juice.

Touch Up with Celery and Cucumber

You may see celery or cucumber used in alcoholic drinks to lessen the intensity and add a little sweetness.

celery sticks

Consider diluting your cranberry juice and adding a bit of celery or cucumber to peel back the intensity and make your drink more appealing to your palate.

Add Salt

As strange as it sounds, salt can actually cut back on the bitterness of cranberry juice and draw out the natural sweetness it contains.

Just a small pinch can help, and if you find the flavor too strong, pair a pinch of salt with a dash of sweetness, whether by adding sugar or mixing it with other fruits. Doing so may be just the small change you need to make cranberry juice bearable, even enjoyable.

The salt, of course, will not add any sweetness to the drink, but if you just want to cut back on the tartness, then the salt can really help mute the intensity a little bit.

Put Cranberry Juice into a Recipe

If you just can’t stand drinking cranberry juice no matter how you dilute it but still want to reap the health benefits it offers, then you might want to consider incorporating it into a smoothie recipe.

Pair some of your favorite fruits with some yogurt or milk, and add cranberry juice. Doing so lets you get those wonderful benefits cranberries have to offer without even noticing it’s there.

Combining pineapple, raspberries, bananas, and cranberry juice yield a delicious smoothie that you should certainly try.

Don’t Drink It

If you really can’t manage cranberries, then there are still lots of other berries and fruits out there that can help you stay healthy. You don’t need cranberries in your diet, as helpful as they may be.

Consider trying pomegranate, currants, or puckerberry for a similar taste and similar health benefits.

Strawberries and raspberries are also good options if you want to substitute the health benefits of cranberry juice for something you’re able to stomach more easily.

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Few Final Thoughts

Cranberry juice is extremely hard to drink for many people due to its tart taste and strong bitter flavor.

With that being said, there are a number of ways you can aim to make cranberry juice more palatable, whether by adding other flavors to cut back on the tartness or simply diluting it with water.

Whatever you choose, there’s probably a method out there that can make cranberry juice manageable, if not enjoyable, to drink.

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