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10 Ideas To Make Jellied Cranberry Sauce Better [With Recipe]

how to make canned cranberry sauce better
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I love cranberry sauce. I love the tart taste and the way it pairs with sweet and savory dishes, but more than anything, I love the festive red color. But I’m also always looking for new ways to improve my cranberry sauce. If you’re like me, you might be wondering how to make your jellied cranberry sauce even better. Lucky for us, there are lots of ways to do it! So, how to make jellied cranberry sauce better?

To significantly improve the jellied cranberry sauce, you can sweeten it with oranges, add apples or stone fruits, spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, or anise and fennel, pour some balsamic vinegar, add mustard, and syrup, go tropical with orange juice, ginger, and lime, or add some whole cranberries.

If you’re looking for a new way to make your jellied cranberry sauce more exciting, why not try one of these ten ideas? From adding different spices to using fruit juice instead of water, these tips will make your sauce more flavorful and unique. 

improved cranberry sauce pinterest photo

Use Oranges to Sweeten the Sauce

One way to improve jellied cranberry sauce is to add sweetness. And what’s a better sweetener than orange juice?

Simply replace some of the cranberry juice with orange juice when you’re making your sauce. This will give it a sweet, citrusy flavor that everyone will love. You can even add zest from the orange to give it an extra boost of flavor.

Incorporate Apples to Add Tartness

One way to make your jellied cranberry sauce better is to add tartness. You can do that by incorporating apples into the recipe. Not only will this add flavor, but it will also give the sauce a bit of texture.

There are a few ways to go about incorporating apples into your sauce. You can either dice them up and add them in during the cooking process or use them as a topping once the sauce is chilled.

Spice It Up With Cinnamon and Nutmeg

To make jellied cranberry sauce better, I like to add a little spice. Cinnamon and nutmeg are two of my favorites because they add a warmth and depth of flavor that complement the cranberries’ tartness. 

You can either stir them in with the other ingredients before cooking or sprinkle them on top when you serve. Either way, it’ll add a delicious depth of flavor that takes your sauce to the next level.

Add a Splash of Balsamic Vinegar

Adding a splash of balsamic vinegar to any cranberry sauce is a great way to add an unexpected flavor kick. The tart acidity of the vinegar pairs nicely with the sweetness of the cranberries and creates a unique flavor profile when combined. Plus, it helps to cut through the jello-like texture that jellied cranberry sauce sometimes has.

I like to add a teaspoon or two into my recipe for an extra kick of flavor that you won’t find anywhere else. White or red wine vinegar also works well if you don’t have balsamic on hand. Still, I personally find that the rich and syrupy quality of balsamic fits better with the tanginess of cranberry sauce. 

Anise and Fennel for a Licorice-Y Twist

If you want to give your cranberry sauce a licorice-y twist, then anise and fennel are the way to go. Anise, in particular, is known for its ability to enhance flavors in various ways. Just a tiny amount can make all the difference, so start with a pinch but feel free to add more if you’re feeling adventurous.

Fennel also adds an interesting twist to flavor, as does star anise. These are especially good for adding a subtle flavor without overpowering the cranberry’s natural sweetness. I like to add them at the beginning of cooking and let the sauce simmer away until the flavors combine for a perfect balance.

Sweet Heat From Mustard and Syrup

Adding a mix of mustard and syrup can give your jellied cranberry sauce a delightful sweet heat. Start with a tablespoon of syrup and mix in half a teaspoon of mustard, then adjust to your taste. The result is a sweet and tangy mixture with just the slightest hint of heat.

It’s best to do this right before you serve the sauce because if you let it sit for too long, the mustard will lose its sharpness, and your sauce won’t have that perfect balance of flavors. 

Go Tropical with Orange Juice, Ginger, and Lime

To give your jellied cranberry sauce a tropical twist, start with a base of orange juice and cranberries, then add some freshly grated ginger and the juice of half a lime. This will give your sauce an incredible richness of flavor with just the right amount of sweetness.

If you’re feeling adventurous, add some diced mango or pineapple for an extra tropical flavor. For a total flavor punch, add some curry or cumin powder as well. Or, if you’re looking for something more savory, add in some thyme or sage leaves for a mild herbaceous flavor.

Try Blending with Stone Fruits Like Peaches and Plums

Why not take your jellied cranberry sauce to the next level with a touch of stone fruit? Adding peaches or plums can give your cranberry sauce a unique, fruity sweetness and make it even more delightful.

I love adding one diced peach or two plums to my cranberry sauce for a flavor twist. The key here is to blend your fruit in a food processor for a few seconds, so all the ingredients combine without losing the recognizable texture of the cranberries. The resulting combination will be delightfully tart and sweet. 

Whole Cranberries Cooked in the Sauce

If you’re looking for a way to add a little more texture and bite to your jellied cranberry sauce, try adding some whole cranberries that have been cooked in the sauce. This will give your sauce an almost compote-like texture and delicious tartness.

To do this, simmer the cranberries with sugar and spices until softened. Add some apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for added tartness, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Once it’s reached your desired consistency, it’s ready to be stirred into the jellied cranberry sauce. 

Whole-cooked cranberries will give your jellied cranberry sauce an extra boost of flavor that’s sure to please even the most discerning palates!

improved cranberry sauce recipe

Improved Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Author: Laura Bais
Make your jellied cranberry sauce better! Follow this recipe and improve the taste of your cranberry sauce.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Simmer time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 211.7 kcal


  • 1 can Jellied Cranberry Sauce
  • ½ cup Orange Juice
  • ¼ cup Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp Powdered Ginger
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup or Honey


  • Prepare all the ingredients, put them into a saucepan, and mix them together.
  • When you bring the mixture to a boil, put it on low heat and stir occasionally. While stirring, break the larger pieces with a wooden spoon.
  • When the mixture thickens, take it off the stove. Let it cool a bit, serve, and enjoy!


Serving: 1servingCalories: 211.7kcalCarbohydrates: 53.6gProtein: 1.3gFat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 0.03gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.02gSodium: 6.6mgPotassium: 124mgFiber: 1.4gSugar: 42gVitamin A: 110.6IUVitamin C: 22.5mgCalcium: 13.5mgIron: 0.6mg
Keyword canned cranberry sauce, cranberry sauce, hacks, jellies cranberry sauce, ocean spray

Before diving into the nutritional details, please review our Nutritional Disclaimer page for important context and clarifications.

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