The Truth About Dried Cranberries

October 24, 2012   67 Comments

This shocking post will reveal a little known fact about dried cranberries. Someone has to reveal the truth!

Craisins vs Raisins

Cranberries are picked by fairies who live in teeny weeny mobile homes.

Actually, the truth is not as interesting as the above fib. Dried cranberries, also know as “Craisins”, are not the same as raisins. Sure, Ocean Spray would like you to believe that they are the same, but there is one big difference.

Dried cranberries are made with added sugar, while raisins are just dried grapes with no sugar added. Why should this matter to you? I guess I think that most of us put dried cranberries and dried grapes in the same category because they sit next to each other in the store and because of the name “Craisins”.

Since Craisins has come out – Ocean Spray has added reduced sugar Craisins to address the level of added sugar.

.Here are a two big differences between the two:

  • Raisins have 6% of your daily value of iron per serving
  • Raisins have 310 mg of potassium (9% of your daily value) per serving
  • Raisins have 1 gram of protein and 2% of your daily value of calcium per serving

How much iron, potassium, protein, and calcium do dried cranberries have? None.

Here are the nutrition facts for one serving of dried cranberries:

130 calories, 0 g fat, 33 g carbohydrates, 26 g sugar, 0 g protein, 3 g fiber, 0 mg sodium

There are no other significant sources of macronutrients on the package. You may be getting some micronutrients, if they survived the dehydrating process. The rest is just fiber and sugar (which they added).

Raisins are more nutritious and fundamentally a different product (nothing added!) than dried cranberries.

I'm not saying you should stop eating dried cranberries. I love to use them as a flavoring agent for salads or cookies, but be aware that raisins are better for you.

Did you notice the difference between Craisins and raisins? What other dried fruits have surprised you?

Other posts you might like:

Reduced Sugar Craisins

Reduced Sugar Craisins: Are These a Better Choice?

I was hunting for some dried cranberries when I found reduced sugar Craisins. Wow!...

Get Free Email Updates! Yes please!


I enjoy crazins on things like salads, but as a label reader I do see the amount of sugar and lack of anything else in them, and choose not to eat them as a snack.

When I want something snacky I look for freeze dried fruits like funkyMonkey or even the gerber fruits which provide a crunch without anything added. Target is also expanding their freeze dried section to include things like peas and corn which make great additions to salads to give some crunch too. :)

Happy Eating!

I love dried cranberries, but your right there mostly sugar! What other fruit that surprised me was banana's. You would think banana chips were healthy, nope!! Great post!!

I couldn't agree more about the dried cranberries. Not a big raisin fan myself (give me the grapes before they dehydrate!), but I would absolutely love dried cranberries without the sugar. Guess the only way to do that is to buy some fresh cranberries and a dehydrator.... do 'em myself!

Our local grocery has some sweetened with pineapple juice instead of cane sugar and they are really yummy. I have no idea if that adds any food value. They also have some sweetened with apple juice.

Good to know! I have an old bag of Trader Joe's raisins that list 29g sugar per serving ..... is 'added sugar' different?

It's a shame they don't give people the option to buy just plain dried cranberries. It would be nice to add something tart to a salad, cookie, stuffing, etc. Don't think I have ever seen them without added sugar. If they do sell them let me know where I can get them. Will have to check out Target for their freezed dried section.

Might be cheaper then Whole Foods.

I like Craisins but I do limit them. On the other hand, I CRAVE raisins which is strange tome since I hated them until about 1 year ago! I buy them in the little boxes to keep some "control" After a long run, I love to make a wrap out of natural peanut butter, 1/2 a banana and one of those little boxes of raisins!

Wow! Last night, while in the grocery store to buy dried Cranberries, I decided to read the label. I have to say I was so disappointed when I saw sugar as an ingredient. I've eaten Craisins for a long time always thinking I was eating just dried fruit. So crazy that you posted this today. I guess it is still ok to add to salad but now I know the "TRUTH" about them. Thanks for your wonderful posts. Always funny and informing!

I've been buying my organic apple-sweetened cranberries at the bulk bin of my local health food grocer for years; the sugar content is the same but raisins beat out cranberries for potassium. Thanks for that awareness, SG! I was getting ready for some Fall baking using cranberries, pumpkin, and all kinds of nuts but now I'll add some raisins too! If you can't find fruit-sweetened cranberries, I've gotten Eden organic brand thru amazon.

I haven't bought craisins for ages -- mostly because of the added sugar. I've found other dried fruit that I like better: cherries and blueberries. The only place I get them, though, is the Farmer's Market and they aren't labeled so I don't know the nutrition stats. I would guess no sugar has been added, though :)

NNNNNOOOOO - Say it isn't true!!!!! Actually I did know this but love them anyways and I swear these little gems are what got me back eating salads.

I am puzzled. While I accept that Wikipedia is by no means the last word in scientific fact, it provides a long list of nutrients purported to be present in cranberries. Also, our GP recommended my husband take a daily 1000mg capsule of cranberry extract to alleviate frequent bladder infections. These are now a thing of the past. Surely you are not suggesting that cranberries lack health benefits?

I bought fresh cranberries and added them in my pumpkin bread over the weekend. They were not sweet and balanced the bread I think.

I use currants when I need a change from raisins.

They are labeled as my raisins, just dried currants. I keep some frozen for baking also. I will have to look up the nutritional info.

Thanks for great info! Sunkist now makes craisins with 50% less sugar... just found them at Wal-Mart the other day. Also Whole Foods carries unsweetened dried cranberries... if I remember correctly they are in the bulk dried beans and fruit section- enjoy!

I wondered the same thing as Renee, why there were ZERO nutrients at all besides fiber in the craisins? Are they somehow lost in the drying process or what?

I found this out the hard way. I was adding dried cranberries to my oatmeal. Had a blood test done at the college where I work and my triglycerides were up. The nurse asked me if I was adding sugar to my morning routine. I said no, but when I came home I checked the cranberry package and gee, guess what I was adding? Needless, to say, I stopped eating cranberries.

Cranberries have added sugar because they are naturally very low in sugar. If you compare raisins and dried sweetened cranberries they have practically the same amount of sugar -- 17 gms per ounce of raisins and 18 gms per ounce of dried cranberries.

In addition, dried cranberries have 2 - 4 times the amount of antioxidants as raisins. They, along with blueberries and blackberries, are some of the highest sources of antioxidants around. If you eat one serving of cranberries, you've already exceeded the average daily antioxidant level of the average American diet.

It's true that raisins have more potassium and iron than cranberries (the 1 ounce of protein is negligible).

Both raisins and cranberries have their advantages.

I think the reason you're seeing very little nutritional value in the Craisens is because (and I'll take his word for it, because I'd guess he knew) a local cranberry farmer said they are mainly the skins of the cranberries, left over from the juicing process, or some other process, whereby the "goodness" of the cranberry is used for something else - and this is just a cast-off (originally), that they are now marketing so as to get all the money they possibly can from the berry.

I'm getting out my dehydrator.

Terra Betta (I believe that's the name) dried cranberries are less sugar, but that doesn't mean they are more nutritious (haven't checked label recently)

Who knew!? Thanks for the info. Glad you shared all the benefits on raisins, no I have a hankerin for some :).

The antioxidant that cranberries are famous for is Vitamin C - one cup of FRESH cranberries has 24% of your daily value. Dried cranberries have so little Vitamin C - perhaps due to processing removing them - that there is 0% listed on the package.

Raisins have 2% of your daily value of Vitamin C per serving.

Maybe other antioxidants remain after the drying process - but according to Wikipedia -

nutrients are lost during the drying process.

It sounds like the best option is to stock up on cranberries now while in season and freeze. Avoid dried. Remember the sugar in raisins are natural occurring sugar which the body digests different then added sugar.

I just saw that Ocean Spray came out with 50% Reduced Sugar Craisins...I wonder how these compare

I love to watch the items on your page they do help me to change my eating habits as I am 5&1/2 stone over weight so a big thank you

OK ... but if you use dried plums instead, you'll have less sugar and more fiber than raisins OR craisins ... tastes just as good in my oatmeal, if you ask me ... try it!

I've tried unsweetened cranberry juice to ward off UTI's but it was highly unpalatable, sooooo tart, real pucker material! I imagined dried cranberries were the same and thus chose the apple-sweetened ones as a healthier version. Whole fresh cranberries are still great though in baked goods, stuffings, etc. I faithfully take a high potency cranberry supplement every morning and evening and since starting this regimen FOUR years ago, have completely cured my chronic condition, so its my superfood! Love raisins too in my oatmeal or mixed with nuts for easy snacking!

No surprise here - sour things that they are :-P

Dried cranberries as well as cranberry juice taste good. However, the fruit is high in calories thus if you are monitoring your calories, you may need to cut down your calorie intake from other foods just to have cranberries.

Thanks for spreading the truth about dried cranberries! I agree - they are a scam!

I too noticed that there was sugar in my dried cranberries so I did a little homework and found that Whole Foods offers 2 types of dried cranberries in their bin section. One sweetened with sugar, the other is sweetened with fruit juice. The latter has a tart flavor but I like it. I have been using them in my homemade pumpkin granola recipe.

I used to put Craisins on my salads all the time until I became an obsessive label reader. After seeing how much sugar is added to them, I stopped buying them!!! It was not worth the nutritional sacrifice. I also will not buy those yogurt covered raisins that my kids think are "healthy" because it is yogurt. I explained to my daughter that much of the yogurt she sees is nothing but sugared milk.

The antioxidant family that makes cranberries, blueberries, etc. so famous is polyphenols. You got me wondering about the drying process, so I searched and found this article. Proanthocyanidins aren't lost much by drying. Anthocyanins are. Most of the research has been done on proanthocyanidins, so that's what I'd put my money on. BTW, raisins have these polyphenols chemicals too, so whatever happens to cranberries will happen to grapes with drying.

I just finished dehydrating my own cranberries last night. You have to cook them first, to pop the skins. Most are cooked in sugar water. I cooked mine in a mixture of apple juice and mead, because that's what I had on hand. and they're yummy and REALLY tart! woot! And now I have a delightful cranberry syrup left over from the cooked down mixture to add to something else... hmmm, maybe cran-pumpkin bread? :)

I like craisin's on salad. However, I'm a Type II diabetic so using mandarin oranges gives me more bang for my buck. :-)

YEP! I was appalled when I realized that sugar is added to dried cranberries, APPALLED!

I think some raisins have added sugar not all. Be sure to read the labels. Some dried raisins are naturally sweet because the grape was sweet. I'm guessing if the grapes sweet or sweet enough some raisin companies will add sugar. Just guessing.

thank you for this information! I didn't know any of this! Sending this to my "craisin-obsessed" husband right now!

I too once I read the food label limited my dried cranberry consumption...I tried to read and look for some unsweetened but didn't find any. I found some like other readers with fruit sweetener...sigh!

Thank you for this information! I am usually one to feel up on things like this but I didn't realize how big the difference was between the two! I actually haven't bought any dried berries in a long time because I accidentally picked up a bag of mixed dried berries from Costco a few months back and they had so much added sugar I could barely eat them. Your post is so timely because my husband went shopping the other day and bought raisins instead of the cranberries (believe me, he doesn't know the difference). I was a little miffed but didn't say anything and now I'm happy I have them!

I prefer chopped dried apricots to both raisins and craisins. But all dried fruit is high in sugar compared to the nondried fruit (ounce to ounce comparison). The drying process concentrates the sugar in the fruit. I prefer cranberries sweetened as they are both tart and sour and, while I can handle tart, sour makes me not want to eat them. I find that a few craisins go a long way.

I looked at a bag of Ocean Spray fresh cranberries in the produce aisle at the grocery store tonight. It said there is 20% RDA of Vit C and 2% RDA of Iron per half cp serving.


When you say Gerber Fruits do you mean the baby food????

Annie, yes by Gerber fruits I do mean the Gerber Mini Fruits, the baby food people! There is no rule that they are just for kids, they make a great snack :) and I don't feel bad about eating the bag in a theater ;)


Sorry to tell you, but you got took by a PR person.

The fact is that a one-ounce serving of Raisins has 17 grams of sugar and 84 calories.

A one-ounce serving of Craisins has 18 grams and 86 calories.

The "nutrients" in a one ounce serving of raisins are all under 3 percent of the RDA, so it's really silly to call raisins a source of iron or Vitamin C.

Craisins have a little bit more fiber, but not much.

Bottom line: Raisins are a sweet dried fruit.

Craisins are a sour dried fruit to which companies must add some kind of sweetener to make them edible.

But nutritionally, they're a wash.

Unless you're trying to make money growing them.

How do you know a PR flak is, um, stretching the truth?

Their lips are moving.

I hope they at least let you dance with a guy dressed up in a raisin suit.

I checked a nutrient site that does a pretty in-depth comparison. Raisins do seem to win a bit esp. in iron, 14% vs 3% per serving.…

Its been great learning about raisins, craisins and cranberries; I love 'em in moderation and as I said earlier they do magic keeping me free from UTI's [in supplement form]!! Thanks Lisa.

As a New Englander I always assumed people knew the difference. Raw cranberries for the win!

I love dried cranberries but have a problem with amount of added sugar. Organic crans from the health food store are better quality, but are still far sweeter than I would like. Maybe Lisa could convince the food companies to offer them plain for people like us until the rest of the herd catches up.

is the fiber added? i thought dried cranberries were better because they had more fiber.

There is a difference between actual sweetened dried cranberries and craisins. Still added sugar, but craisins are just waxy husks of cranberries filled with sugar - actual sweetened dried cranberries have nutrients and much more flavor.

Thanks for this information!!! The other issue with OceanSpray products is that OceanSpray gave several hundred thousand dollars to keep truth in labeling a secret!! They do not want people to know the truth about GMOs in our food products! I am boycotting OceanSpray 100% until they decide to be honest. Thanks again for your informative post and web site!!! It's great!!

good post, thanks for sharing! personally I like both - raisins and dry cranberries, but as you mentioned that dry cranberries, a part of a sugar, don't have too many other ingredients and in most of the cases more expensive than raisins, I'll switch into raisins then!

All true but it should be noted that Cranberries may have some benefit in preventing urinary tract infections

It´s not fair to publish only these informations. You have to know that cranberies (and so craisins) are significant source of vitamins A, E, C, iron, calcium, potassium and antioxidants. So they are definitely more healthy than unhealthy. If you have problem with added sugar you have to do work out or go running to burn those calories ;)

I don't often comment on blogs and I'm not a regular here. I bumped into this post looking for the ingredients of Craisins... which I finally found elsewhere as cranberries and sugar (nothing else). As far as I'm concerned, that's awesome! I guess you must not have tasted unsweetened cranberries recently. I am sensitive to corn and was concerened that it would contain corn syrup or even corn oil to keep it from sticking. My main reason for commenting is to point out that your perspective is a little skewed. What is to say that sugar from sugar cane is any different than sugar from grapes? You have neglected to mention that Craisins and raisins both have 29g "sugar". The Craisins have one more gram of fiber and the net carbs between the two - the raisins only beats out the Craisins by one gram. (29g to Craisn's 30g)

Sorry Cari, but I can't see why anyone would want to have something that has sugar added to it when it already has a nature sugar which I believe your body metabolizes better.

I've just been diagnosed with kidney disease so I'm on the lookout for foods with very low potassium. These fit the bill nicely! Don't knock them!

I choose Craisins over raisins because of the lack of potassium! People with kidney failure have to be very careful about potassium... to little and you have heart problems... to much and you have heart problems. Healthy kidneys regulate your potassium level... failing kidneys may not.

Hmmm...sometimes information is looked at thru a telescope, focusing on a single item while neglecting others. Yes, craisins have added sugar, but even still do not have the per serving amount of calories that raisins so. And for those of us that must live with taking a blood thinner, the amount of potassium in raisins is dangerous. As much as I love these and many other fruits, I would NOT stick to a steady diet of either. But man oh man, to be surprised by a couple of oatmeal white chocolate craisin cookies or a warm, just out of the oven slice of raisin bread with some REAL butter...hmmm.

In measuring out the value of craisins, you cite figures that are related to "one serving". This is to me a cop-out. One serving could be a handful, a cupful, a sprinkling, all the ones that didn't drop onto the floor, a weighed measure of a certain unnamed value, und so weiter, enzovoorts, et cetera. The point of your evaluation is perfectly comprehensible but, for passing information on to others, useless. I switched the call for it in a recipe I am working on, for Cakeless Christmas Cake, to mulberries.

Hi, what would you expect to hear from a board supporting raisin growers? Yes, its true that raisins have more nutrients in them than Craisins or other brands of dried, sweetened cranberries. But as for the sugar - raisins have more. Grapes are naturally sweet and don't need added sugar but cranberries are not naturally sweet so even with the added sugar they still contain less than raisins. I prefer the sweetened cranberries in my baked goods but in cookies its raisins for me. I don't really snack on either but choose fresh fruits instead.

My Grandma used to mix raisins, cottage cheese and applesauce in layers and that would be good for fiber, protein and calcium. It was delicious

(and sneaky).

Thank you for sharing the info. I was just thinking whether to buy some craisins for my daughter.

Has anyone tried Honestly Cranberry? It must be new to the marketplace, but they don't add any sugar or juice! I think I'll order some!

Katie: Thanks for this new cranberry tip! I am so going to try these in my morning muffins or cookies, they look awesome. :)

Craisins are fantastic desert foods..I have then after every meal..Joe

I actually prefer raisins but have been snacking on Craisins as of late. I don't like how sweet they are. They're almost so sweet that it hurts.

Yes....we love both craisins and raisins in our house. However, for those of you who suffer with gout, as does my husband, beware of iron. I think moderation is advised and do your due diligence in researching the foods you are eating on a regular basis.

Add a comment:


(required, never published)

© 2023