Jellied Cranberry Sauce

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This Jellied Cranberry Sauce recipe is sure to put your Thanksgiving menu over the top. Fresh cranberries, apple juice, and liquid pectin make cranberry jelly that’s way better than canned!

molded jellied cranberry sauce on a cake stand with fresh cranberries

If your family is anything like mine, cranberry sauce is a must-have Thanksgiving side dish. Once you realize how easy it is to make sweet-tart jellied cranberry sauce on the stovetop. You’ll never want to buy the canned stuff again!

This jelly has a real fruit taste and you can present it in any adorable shape you like. There’s no denying that this recipe is way better than Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce!

Update: I’ve updated this post with new photos, stovetop recipe, and tips and tricks to bring this bright and festive dish to your family table this holiday season. 

bundt pan molded jellied cranberry sauce on a cake stand with fresh cranberries

How to Make Jellied Cranberry Sauce

First, you’ll want to wash your cranberries under cold water and pick out any that are bad. There are usually several in a bag that are super soft and mushy, just discard those.

collage of photos rinsed, uncooked, and cooked cranberries

Next, you simply cook down fresh cranberries until they’re soft and tender, using apple juice to enhance the bright, fruity flavor. 

I love hearing the cranberries pop as they cook.

collage of pictures, cranberries in a food mill and adding sugar and pectin

Then run the cranberries through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. If you don’t have a food mill, you can also purée the mixture in a high-speed blender and push it through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon. This is the key to a smooth delicious jellied cranberry sauce. 

Next, pour the strained cranberries back into the saucepan. Sweeten those tart berries with sugar and add the liquid pectin.

thickening jellied cranberry sauce

Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil one minute so the pectin can do its magic and start to thicken the cranberry sauce.

Let the sauce cool slightly in the pan and then pour it into whatever mold you’d like to use. Spray your mold with nonstick cooking spray for easier unmolding.

Originally when I posted this recipe, I used fun individual turkey molds, but they’re no longer available, so for the updated pictures, I used a half-size, 6 cup bundt pan.

Once the sauce has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate until set, preferably overnight, or a day or two ahead of time. Unmold, and voilá: perfectly gelled, sweet, and sliceable homemade jellied cranberry sauce!

Of course, if you’re intimidated to use a mold, you can just serve your homemade jellied cranberry sauce from a pretty bowl too.

Where to Find the Ingredients

You’ll need fresh cranberries and liquid pectin for this sauce. You can usually find beautiful bags of fresh ruby cranberries in the produce section of grocery stores around Thanksgiving time. Pick up two bags to make this recipe. 

Secondly, you’ll need liquid pectin. This is usually in the canning aisle of well-stocked supermarkets, where they keep the mason jars and other canning supplies. 

a bundt pan with cranberry sauce in a pot of warm water

Unmolding Jellied Cranberry Sauce

When your cranberry jelly is fully set and ready to be served, there are a few tricks to unmolding it perfectly. 

First, fill a pot or large bowl with very warm water in the sink. Dip your chilled jelly mold in the water bath for at least 5 seconds. Then immediately invert the mold directly onto your serving platter. If it doesn’t release, reheat the mold in the water bath. 

If you plan to move the jelly after unmolding, it’s best to unmold it onto a wet surface (just splash some water on your plate), which will keep the jelly from sticking. 

If you have an electric pressure cooker, cranberry jelly is even easier to make in the Instant Pot. Give our Instant Pot Cranberry Jelly recipe a try from Pressure Cooking Today. 

What to Serve with Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Here are my family’s favorite savory holiday dishes to enjoy with bright homemade cranberry sauce:

molded jellied cranberry sauce on a cake stand with fresh cranberries
Yield: 8 - 12 servings

Cranberry Jelly

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 30 minutes

Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce is better than canned, thanks to real fresh cranberries, apple juice and liquid pectin.


  • 2 bags (12 oz each) fresh cranberries, about 6 cups
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons liquid pectin*


  1. Wash and pick over cranberries. Add the cranberries and apple juice to a medium-size saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 - 15 minutes until cranberries all popped and soften, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour the cooked cranberries in a food mill over a large bowl to separate the cranberry puree from the skins and seeds. (You could also use a blender to puree the berries and then use a strainer to strain the skin and seeds.) Rinse out and dry the saucepan.
  4. Put the cranberry puree back in the saucepan and add the sugar and the liquid pectin. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Boil one minute.
  5. Allow mixture to cool slightly and then pour cranberry jelly into a bowl or a mold coated with nonstick cooking spray. Chill until set.
  6. To unmold, dip mold in warm water for 5 seconds, then invert jelly onto serving platter.


*Use two tablespoons of dry pectin. Mix the dry pectin with the sugar before adding it to the puree.

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