Red berries on a dark background. cranberries in a bowl.

If you've ever eaten pure cranberries or had unsweetened cranberry juice, you're no stranger to their distinct tart flavor. To achieve the sweet yet mildly sour flavor signature to most preparations – like Thanksgiving cranberry sauce – a significant amount of sugar needs to be added to the cranberries. Most dried cranberries already contain added sugar, making a substitution with fresh cranberries slightly more complicated.

For every 3/4 cup of dried cranberries called for in a recipe, measure out one cup of whole, fresh cranberries. For example, if the recipe calls for half a cup of dried cranberries, measure out 2/3 cup of fresh cranberries. Dried cranberries are naturally more concentrated than fresh cranberries because most of the water in them has been removed.

For each cup of fresh cranberries, add 1/8 cup sugar to the recipe. This serves as replacement for the sugar that is already contained in dried cranberries.

For every cup of fresh cranberries used, reduce the amount of water in the recipe by a 1/4 cup. This will make up for the extra liquid added by the fresh cranberries.

Continue the recipe as normal, adding the fresh cranberries at the same time as you would have added the dried cranberries. There is an exception to this rule: if you would have added the dried cranberries at the end of the cooking process, add the fresh cranberries much sooner. This will give them time to cook and blend in with the recipe.