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Cranberry Sauce Two Ways — Beginner and Expert

With its vibrant color and sweet, burst-in-your-mouth berries, cranberry sauce is the quintessential Thanksgiving side. If you've never made homemade cranberry sauce, I highly recommend you try it. The delicious fragrance will warm your house, and it's really not that difficult to make! Sure you could pop open a can, but why not experiment with one of these recipes? The first is super easy and the second is a teeny bit harder, so choose the recipe that best fits your holiday menu. For both recipes,

Beginner Cranberry Sauce
From Everyday Food magazine

1 bag (12 oz.) frozen cranberries
1 jar (12 oz.) red-currant jelly

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries and jelly.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and liquid has reduced to a syrup, 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a serving dish, and let cool. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve, up to 3 days.

Serves 8.

Expert Cranberry Sauce
From Gourmet magazine

4 (12-oz.) bags cranberries, thawed if frozen
3 cups sugar
3 1/3 cups cold water
2 tbsp. unflavored gelatin (from three 1/4-oz. envelopes)
Special equipment: a 3 1/2-cup nonreactive decorative mold or 10 individual (1/3-cup) decorative molds

  1. Bring cranberries, sugar, and 3 cups water to a boil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until all berries have burst, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Pour into a large fine-mesh sieve set over a 2-quart glass measure or a bowl and let stand until all juices have drained through, about 30 minutes. If necessary, press on solids until there is enough juice to measure 3 cups, then discard solids.
  3. Stir together gelatin and remaining 1/3-cup water and let stand 1 minute to soften.
  4. Bring 1 cup drained cranberry liquid to a simmer in a small saucepan, then add gelatin mixture and stir until just dissolved.
  5. Add gelatin mixture to remaining cranberry liquid and stir well.
  6. Pour cranberry sauce into lightly oiled mold and chill, covered with plastic wrap, until firmly set, at least 12 hours.
  7. To unmold, run tip of a thin knife between edge of mold and cranberry sauce. Tilt mold sideways and tap side of mold against a work surface, turning it, to evenly break seal and loosen cranberry sauce. Keeping mold tilted, invert a plate over mold, then invert cranberry sauce onto plate.

Serves 8–12.

Join The Conversation
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
michichan michichan 9 years
mm, janelle, yo've got me drooling
janellethechef janellethechef 9 years
I personally LOVE the jellied stuff that comes in the can! I actually like it better than homemade cranberry sauce! For Thanksgiving every year, I make a Cranberry-Vanilla Creme Brulee for dessert. It has a thin layer of the canned cranberry sauce at the bottom of the ramekin and vanilla bean creme brulee on top! Its AMAZING!
mdstblz mdstblz 9 years
I love homemade cranberry "sauce", but the stuff in a can is pretty awesome too.
Kaciegrrl Kaciegrrl 9 years
The beginner actually looks tastier than the expert.
mamaseacat mamaseacat 9 years
The beginner's recipe is something I can totally do! But I'll still have the canned one ready for back up. ;)
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
the beginner recipe seems easy enough........................
zoinks zoinks 9 years
I hate molded cranberry sauce. My fav is one from the Barefoot Contessa. Its simple just cranberries, a lemon, an orange, sugar, and a little water, but I can eat it with a spoon. I already made my first batch for turkey cranberry sandwiches.
hollister-chick hollister-chick 9 years
cranberry sauce is the best!!
i-am-elle i-am-elle 9 years
Thanksgiving isn't complete without cranberry sauce. I really want to make some this year!
askmetostay askmetostay 9 years
ktown, i totally agree....while i love cranberries in pretty much any form, i can't help but adore the canned stuff for thanksgiving!!
fragiletearz fragiletearz 9 years
Ewww Aimee nothing should make you want Jello! LOL j/k I love cranberries!
michichan michichan 9 years
could you use agar?
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 9 years
Paula Deen has a good one made with Grand Marnier. But any way you shake it, cranberry sauce is the best!!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Makes me want jello...
ktownpolarbear ktownpolarbear 9 years
strange, but i actually prefer the ones that come in the can. :)
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
We always had canned cranberry sauce while growing up. But once I started cooking myself, I decided to make it homemade, and I wouldn't ever buy a can of cranberry sauce again. It's inexpensive and very easy! Plus, it has a ton more flavor than canned. Also, like anything else homemade you can make small changes to fit YOUR personal taste.
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