Will Cranberry Sauce Thicken As It Cools?

There is no right or wrong answer when deciding whether to favour thick or thin cranberry sauce. If you want a looser sauce and you’ve ended up with something more like Jell-O, you’ll need to do some troubleshooting. Those who love the kind that slips perfectly out of a can may not mind a cranberry sauce that is semi-solid. Your cranberry sauce is probably overdone if it is too thick. Cranberries, or any berry, burst during cooking, releasing pectin, a natural thickener. You can reach the ideal consistency by allowing some, but not all, of the cranberries to split apart, which will take less time on the stove. Furthermore, because cooling makes cranberry sauce even thicker, it is best served after cooling. When you serve your cranberry sauce, it will be much too thick if it is too thick when it is cooking. If the cranberry sauce is too thick for your tastes, thin it out with a little water or orange juice before removing it from the heat. That’s all there is to it!

How can you thicken cranberry sauce?

  • How can cranberry sauce be thickened? Pectin, which cranberries naturally possess in abundance of, will cause your cranberry sauce to thicken as it cools. Additionally, combine 1-2 teaspoons of tapioca or cornstarch until thoroughly combined. Then, while constantly whisking, add it to the sauce that is simmering, and cook it just until it becomes thick. But bear in mind that the pectin we discussed earlier will cause the sauce to continue to thicken as it cools!
  • Use fresh or frozen cranberries, please? My response is that either one will do, so go with the more affordable one. Frozen is much more dependable and affordable where we reside in Montana. The organic fresh cranberries we get around here frequently have a significant amount of rotting berries mixed in, however the frozen cranberries are generally in fine condition. I’ve used both fresh and frozen ingredients to make this sauce, and I can’t even tell the difference.
  • Can cranberry sauce be frozen? Yes! For later use, I frequently freeze cranberry sauce. It’s ideal if you want to prepare it well in advance or if you have more leftovers than you can possibly eat. The frozen sauce should be gently reheated in the microwave before use.
  • What can you do with cranberry sauce that is left over? The cranberry sauce can first be frozen for later use. In order to make a cranberry apple crisp, I also combined my leftover cranberry sauce with thinly sliced apples. If you only have a tiny bit (less than 1/2 cup), you can think about making a chicken salad out of it with some mayo, diced celery, and thinly sliced green onions—it always turns out delicious, but very pink! And finally, I’ve enjoyed making it into a cranberry orange smoothie by blending it with oranges on several times.

I’d appreciate a remark or review if you prepared this Homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce. Please feel free to ask me anything; I love hearing from you. Additionally, you can always use the hashtag #getinspiredeveryday on Instagram to tag me. I love seeing all of your creations!

How can cold cranberry sauce be thickened?

Thanksgiving customs are firmly ingrained with cranberry sauce. Even though it’s not exactly in vogue these days, people still shape fruits and vegetables in gelatine for Thanksgiving, and there’s always at least one person at the table who can’t live without the canned, jellied type.

Cranberry sauce has the wonderful ability to be prepared in advance. Since it stays nicely in the refrigerator, start preparing it a week before Thanksgiving. Place it in a closed jar in the refrigerator after allowing it to cool at room temperature. Most sauces can be served at room temperature or cold. Here are answers to some of the most frequent questions about cranberry sauce.


Homemade cranberry sauce is intended to “jell” or thicken during cooking. If it continues to be soupy, several things might be the case.

You might not have used enough sugar, which is one possibility. Sugar helps the sauce set up, so make sure to use the entire amount recommended in a recipe. Another scenario is that the cranberries require more time in the boiling process in order to release their pectin and achieve the jelly-like consistency.

Having trouble? Aim to further reduce the sauce so that additional liquid cooks off and the mixture thickens. Add a thickener, such as gelatine, pectin, or a slurry of cornstarch, if that doesn’t work (cornstarch whisked into juice or water). Before putting the sauce in the fridge to thoroughly solidify, let it cool.


There are a few things to bear in mind if you’re using a pan mould to make cranberry sauce that is gelatin-based. To assist the mould release when it’s time to plate your dish, lightly grease the mould before adding the cranberry sauce foundation. Second, ensure that you allow it plenty time to set (when in doubt, overnight is usually best).

Put the bottom of the mould in warm water just before serving to help the sauce come loose. Invert it from the mould onto a plate after running the tip of a paring knife over the mold’s edge.


It’s easy to serve homemade cranberry sauce: With a spoon, pour it into a serving bowl and either serve it family-style at the table or put it on the buffet with the rest of your dinner.

It’s a little harder to miss the jiggly bottled sauce. The majority of chefs merely slice the cylinder into discs and arrange them attractively on a dish.

Punching Up Canned Sauce

Try the following additions to make sweet, canned cranberry sauce your own:

  • Fruit: Slices of pineapple, orange, grapes, and apple provide the traditional sauce flavour and a crisp texture. Consider adding some citrous zest as well! It brightens the scene.
  • Nuts: Walnuts, pecans, or other festive holiday nuts chopped finely give an earthy flavour and can help balance the sauce’s richness.

Why is the cranberry sauce I made at home runny?

Natural pectin, the component that causes cooked fruit to gel, is abundant in cranberries. The berries must be cooked until they burst and may establish a link with the sugar in order to release that pectin. It’s vital to note that once the mixture has thickened, it should not be chilled until it has reached room temperature.

Additionally, the mixture will probably be thinner than you prefer if you use a sugar replacement or attempt to use less sugar.

Can warm cranberry sauce be stored in the refrigerator?

Making cranberry sauce in advance is a terrific idea. Transfer it to a glass jar or other airtight container once it has finished cooling completely, then store it in the refrigerator. It can be served warm or cold and keeps well in the refrigerator for 10 to 12 days.

Does cornstarch help cranberry sauce to thicken?

  • Combine the cranberries, port, sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, and zest in a small saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and continue cooking the cranberries until they are soft. Make a slurry out of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water in a small cup. The cranberry sauce will thicken as you stir the cornstarch mixture into it. If required, taste and add additional sugar.

Is my cranberry sauce bitter, and why?

The naturally occuring tannins in cranberries are what give cranberry sauce its bitter flavour. Those cranberries explode and release those tannins when we cook them. Some people adore the cranberries’ tart/bitter taste. some not as much.

There are a few things we can do to help with the bitterness, but regrettably, I’ve never discovered a foolproof method to totally get rid of it.

We begin by adding a little salt. The harshness of the sugar is somewhat masked by the salt, which contributes to its sweetness.

Some claim that a tiny teaspoon of baking soda reduces the sauce’s acid content. Tannic acid does not, however, account for all of the tannins in cranberries, only a portion of them. Therefore, while a pinch of baking soda will assist, it won’t completely get rid of the problem. Just remember that it should only be a tiny pinch. Additionally, when you pour the sauce, it will initially bubble up before dissolving.

Others assert that a little maturing will cause the tannins in the cranberry sauce to mellow. Another reason I advise making cranberry sauce in advance is because I really believe that it makes a slight difference. It will last up to 6 months in the freezer or 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator.

Why is the cranberry sauce I’m using grainy?

There are two types of families: those who insist that their Thanksgiving tables be adorned with a homemade, rustic cranberry sauce, and those who would settle for a canned sauce that they can cut into gelatinous slices. You won’t have a cranberry sauce failure if you are of the canned sauce camp. We who are cooking a batch at home aren’t as fortunate. When your cranberry sauce turns bad, you can describe it as bitter, watery, or even gritty. How therefore can you refrain from using the can opener?

It’s likely that you overcooked the cranberries if the sauce tastes bitter. You’re done when they pop. Overcook something and you run the danger of ruining the flavour forever. You might have skimped on the sugar if the sauce simply won’t set up. Although it may appear excessive, the considerable amount of sugar required is necessary to make everything gel. Additionally, make sure the cranberries are cooked just long enough to release their pectin (but not too long!). Finally, a last-minute sweetening operation may be the cause of a grainy sauce. Choose honey or agave if you feel like you need more sugar to balance the acidity, as undissolved sugar might result in an unpleasant texture.

Should cranberry sauce be warm or cold?

Does cranberry sauce come cold or hot? Although you can serve cranberry sauce however you wish, we prefer to serve it closer to room temperature.

Cranberry sauce can it be reheated?

Yes! Although my recipe for cranberry sauce just takes a few minutes to put together, we all know that the holidays can be very busy. You can easily prepare this cranberry sauce in advance to make your day more simpler!

Make Ahead Instructions

Refrigerate: After that, you can keep the food for up to 10 days in a refrigerator-safe container.

Follow the recipe’s directions one more, allow to cool completely, and then store in freezer-safe airtight containers. It will keep for up to a month in the freezer.

You may thaw frozen food over night in the refrigerator. If you would rather have it warm, you can reheat it and serve it. So simple!

With my Make Ahead Thanksgiving Meal Plan and more, I’ve made it simpler for you if you’re preparing your Thanksgiving meal in advance.

How can you tell when cranberry sauce is finished cooking?

The Thanksgiving feast is usually heavy and flavorful, but the cranberry sauce stands out as a sparkling little gem. It’s difficult to picture a platter of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes without that dollop of sweet-tart sauce on the side, even if you only eat it once a year.

While you may just purchase and open a can of the dish, making your own homemade cranberry sauce is by far the simplest part of the holiday meal. You don’t even need to follow a recipe. This is how you do it!

You Only Need 3 Ingredients

The simplest cranberry sauce only contains only three components:

  • Frozen or fresh cranberries? Doesn’t matter because you’ll be boiling them down anyway. Don’t even bother thawing frozen ingredients if you’re using them.
  • Liquid
  • When creating cranberry sauce, water is typically the default liquid. However, you may switch it up by substituting other flavoured components like orange juice or apple cider.
  • Sweetener
  • Try a cranberry by itself once. Really sour, huh? You will need normal sugar, maple syrup, or your prefered sweetener to add sweetness to the cranberry sauce. Avoid going too unusual or you’ll overpower the cranberry flavour.

Optional Additions

Here are some of our faves for spicing up or giving cranberry sauce a fun twist:

  • SpicesTry adding a cinnamon stick, star anise, dried ginger, or whole cloves to your dish. A few fiery fresh ginger slices would taste wonderful as well.
  • Peels of recent orange and lemons give the dish a wonderful zesty kick.
  • Booze
  • At the very end, adding a tablespoon of brandy, rum, port, or even bourbon might be entertaining.
  • stale fruit
  • Add dried fruits like cherries or figs for added flavour and a chewy texture.
  • new fruit
  • The cranberry sauce can be transformed into a nicer compote by adding a diced apple or fresh figs.

Making Cranberry Sauce Without a Recipe

Cranberry sauce is similar to quickly cooking jam or fruit stew on the stove. Place your cranberries in a saucepan, and then pour in just enough of your liquid of choice to cover them by about a third. Add a couple tablespoons of your prefered sweetener, along with any additional ingredients that are optional (err on the side of less since you can always add more).

Stirring will help the sugar melt as you bring the mixture to a simmer. After the sugar has melted, simmer for 15 to 20 minutes more to allow the cranberries to soften and then break down. Add extra liquid if it appears too thick.

When the pectin from the cranberries thickens the sauce to a thick, jam-like consistency, you know you’re done (remember that it will thicken more as it cools). You can now taste your cranberry sauce and make any necessary adjustments by adding extra sweetness. Congratulations, you just made homemade cranberry sauce.

Make the cranberry sauce before Thanksgiving Day because it stores well and has a lot of sugar in it. Here are a few cranberry sauce recipes so you may experiment with different ingredient combinations and amounts: