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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Favorite Dinner Rolls are light, fluffy and the perfect accompaniment to a hearty holiday dinner.
- Instant Pot Stuffing from Pressure Cooking Today saves some oven space and ensures extra crispy edges (everyone’s favorite part!).
- Roasted Green Beans with Almonds bring some crunch and green to your Thanksgiving table with a deliciously savory and nutty side.
- 2 bags 12 oz each fresh cranberries, about 6 cups
- 1 cup apple juice
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons liquid pectin*
- Wash and pick over cranberries. Add the cranberries and apple juice to a medium-size saucepan.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Allow mixture to cool slightly and then pour cranberry jelly into a bowl or a mold coated with nonstick cooking spray. Chill until set.
- To unmold, dip mold in warm water for 5 seconds, then invert jelly onto serving platter.
Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for each of you who take the time to stop by and check out what I’m baking on Barbara Bakes.
This recipe looks beautiful and easy-to-follow and understand recipe!
Why would pectin be needed?
This is my 1st time making the cranberry sauce. I only use one bag use 1 bag so I tried to cut everything in half. I have never used pectin before so I hope I added enough I will let you know how it turns out thanks for the recipe.
If you cut the pectin in half with the rest of the ingredients, it should turn out great. Enjoy!
I wish I could post pics, but this is a great recipe! I added quite a few more flavors and some cognac. This is a keeper!
Thanks Ketra! Glad to hear it was a big hit. If you have an Instagram account, I’d love to see pictures. Just post them and tag me. https://www.instagram.com/barbarabakes/
I love home-made cranberry sauce but mine never jells!! Ive tried everything!! Finally decided I had to add pectin so thanks for this recipe. I hope its a “soft” jell like my mom’s….hers always jells and I follow her recipe, but mine never works. Thanks again
Hi Adrienne – yes, it is a soft jell. Enjoy!
Didn’t jell!! Very runny.
Did you use liquid pectin? Are you boiling it long enough for it to start to thicken? Are you at altitude? Here are some ways to troubleshoot what’s going wrong for you https://www.homestead-acres.com/how-to-fix-jam-or-jelly-that-didnt-set/ https://foodinjars.com/blog/jam-didnt-set-what-to-do/
Love this! Where can I find the molds?
Thanks Bridget – I bought the mold on Amazon https://amzn.to/2ClnP01
Hi, I’ve looked at your recipe and the original, but neither tells how much this makes.I have a 3.5 cup mold that I will be using. Will the two bags + one cup juice fill it?
Hi Jenny – it makes about 1 quart of jellied cranberry sauce – about 4 cups, so you’ll have plenty to fill your mold. Happy Thanksgiving.
Step one for me would be …pick a small pail of fresh cranberries..I live in a place rich with wild fruit..?
Is one batch enough for say 8 people? I plan to use 2 ramekins (about 4 oz each)…just wondering if it can fill that?
Hi Natalie – it makes more than that. I’d say between two or three cups.
I have made this before, but I cannot remember how fine the plate should be for the food mill. Can you recommend what size the holes should be?
Our mill only has one size? So I don’t know much about yours. Sorry about that!
I’m a little fuzzy when it comes to the pectin. Powder or liquid and amount of powder?
The recipe calls for liquid, but this year I didn’t have it on hand so I used powder. I mixed the powdered pectin with the sugar before adding it to the cooked cranberries. Use 2 teaspoons powdered pectin for every tablespoon liquid pectin, so 6 teaspoons powered pectin for this recipe.
Thank you this conversion was so helpful!
My jelly was softer this year than in the past, so I would increase the powder if I used it again, and just substitute it one for one. Hope you enjoyed yours.
I would like to know if a nordic ware six-cup bundt pan would be suitable for this? I don’t have anything remotely close to a mold other than my bundt pans. Most are too large.
Hi Cheryl – I haven’t tried it in a six-cup bundt pan, but I think it would work. You’d just have to unmold it like you would a jello I suppose. Please let me know if you try it.
Love the shape! My daughter would love this!
So cute and such a good idea too 🙂 love it!
2 Sisters Recipes
Thanks Barbara – this is what I needed for today. thanks for sharing this recipe! I love the presentation – wonderful!! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! xxoo Anna and Liz
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
Happy Thanksgiving mum!!! I hope you’re having a wonderful day and I’m thinking of you. I hope that I can join you one day 😀 xxx
Nicole Lindstrom | Simply Happenstance
I love home made cranberries, you can’t beat that and to top it off cranberry jelly!! Wow this recipe looks amazing!