Everything You Need to Know About Making Cranberry Sauce (2024)

If you're trying to avoid white sugar, opt for a recipe that uses honey. If you'd like to reduce your sugar intake, look for recipes that go in a more savory direction like this relish with walnuts and Fresno chiles or this sauce which relies on caramelized shallots for some of its sweetness. Be careful when using sugar substitutes, as some of them have a bitter aftertaste.

Tired of cranberry sauce? Go agrodolce.

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Anna Billingskog

How Do You Thicken Cranberry Sauce?

Cranberries are very high in pectin, which is only activated once the berries have burst and the sauce boils. As long as it's cooked long enough, the sauce will thicken as it cools. If you find that your sauce is runnier than you'd like after it cools, you can return it to a sauce pan, bring it back to a boil, and simmer to reduce some of the liquid.

Does Cranberry Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated?

Canned cranberry sauce can be kept in the pantry until after it's opened—but feel free to store it in the fridge if you like a chilled sauce and magically have extra fridge space.

Freshly made sauce should be refrigerated. Let cool to room temperature before transferring to a resealable container. If you're making cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving day, it can be held at room temperature until dinner time.

Cinnamon, allspice, and an orange team up with cranberries in this spin on the cranberry classic.

Photo by Michael Graydon & Nikole Herriott, Prop Styling by Kalen Kaminski, Food Styling by Rebecca Jurkevich

Can I Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

Yes! Cranberry sauce can be frozen for up to three months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight before serving.

How Do I Make Cranberry Jelly From Scratch?

You can make cranberry jelly with any of the flavorings mentioned above, but there is one critical step: you have to strain your sauce after it cooks. To ensure your cranberry jelly gets nice and jiggly, measure your strained liquid. For every cup of liquid, measure out 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin and sprinkle it over 1/4 cup cold water. Let sit for 5 minutes to bloom gelatin. Pour some of your cranberry liquid back into the saucepan, add bloomed gelatin mix, and bring to a simmer. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and strain back into remaining cranberry liquid. Stir to combine, then pour liquid jelly into a greased mold (or a cleaned out tomato can if you want to fool your canned-cranberries-only family into eating homemade sauce). Chill at least 12 hours before serving.

Why Is My Canned Cranberry Sauce Upside Down?

Many brands affix labels to what would appear to be upside-down cans. But really, the can is designed slightly differently than, say, canned beans, in order to account for an air bubble that forms when the can is filled and sealed. To open, turn the can so the label's words are upside down, then use a can opener to remove the side facing you. (Some cans have a rounded lip and a stamp saying "open other end" on one side. Do as the stamp commands.)

How Do I Get Cranberry Jelly Out of the Can in One Piece?

For best results, chill canned cranberry jelly overnight. After opening the can (see above), run a butter knife all the way around between the jelly and the can. Invert a small plate onto the open side of the can and flip the whole thing over. Lift the can. If jelly doesn't dislodge immediately, a few swift shakes should do the trick.

How Can I Make Canned Cranberry Jelly Look Nice?

For some people Thanksgiving is all about that perfect disc of cranberry jelly. To serve it any other way than simply sliced is seen as a personal attack on their holiday.

Everything You Need to Know About Making Cranberry Sauce (2024)
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