No. Cranberries, like most other berries can be eaten raw.
Raw vs Cooked vs Everything Else
People do eat cranberries raw, however due to their very tart or sour taste these people are in the minority.
They say that it’s an acquired taste, and that you just have to get used to it (to read why cranberries are so sour click here), but most people don’t really care to bother as there are so many other ways to enjoy this bright, red superfood.
Most of the cranberries that farmers grow are used for juices and other cranberry products like sauces and dried cranberry snacks. These products have added sweeteners to make them more palatable; for instance you’ll find some sweetened with a different fruit juice (usually apple or grape), some with sugar and some with a low-calorie sugar substitute.
On the home front, most people like to cook their cranberries over the stove or to add them to recipes to inject a new, tart flavor into their baked goods like muffins.
But there is a way to eat them raw and still enjoy them … you know, have your cake and eat it too (a saying which I love and live by).
I know the subtitle above sounds like the title of a movie you’d find in those tiny rooms at the back of the old video stores, but I assure you we’re not going there.
I use the word cheating because there are ways to enjoy raw cranberries without ever needing to make that puckered face that you get after being dared to chew a mouthful of that ultra sour gum we all used to buy as kids. Meaning we can eat them and not pay that price.
You simply have to eat them with other foods, and I don’t mean sugar.
Lots of people who are health conscious love to add cranberries to their health smoothies. See an example here of a smoothie that’s pretty much all fruit and fruit juice without sugar.
All fresh fruit, all raw and unaltered. Natural and pure.
Another way people use raw cranberries is to blend them up and sprinkle the shredded bits over a salad. The other veggies and dressing are enough to enjoy cranberries this way. One hundred percent pure plant food.
There are hundreds of different smoothies, drinks, salad recipes and other creative ways to enjoy raw cranberries without having to cook them, or tolerate their tart taste. They are more versatile than people think.
So in the end no, cranberries do not have to be cooked before they are eaten.