Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce?

Here's the best way to freeze cranberry sauce including tips for proper storage, thawing, and more.

Cranberry sauce is a must-have for many families celebrating Thanksgiving with a turkey dinner. Depending on the size of your bird or how things go over at the holiday dinner, you may find yourself with leftover cranberry sauce wondering, “can you freeze cranberry sauce?” On the other hand, maybe you’re hosting a holiday dinner and want to prepare and freeze dishes in advance. It’s a smart move that makes holiday prep a lot easier.

cranberry sauce in red bowl with brass spoon
Carson Downing

Can You Freeze Homemade Cranberry Sauce?

The good news is that yes, you can freeze cranberry sauce, but it’s best if you freeze homemade cranberry sauce.

Homemade cranberry sauce takes about 30 minutes to make and it freezes better because it uses fresh cranberries. (The fresher the fruit you use, the better the taste!) If you plan on freezing fresh cranberry sauce, it’s ideal to freeze it within a day of making it. This way the fresh cranberry sauce will retain its taste even after freezing. Another benefit to homemade cranberry sauce is you can add interesting flavors to it to mix things up. You can always make a classic cranberry sauce recipe as the base and then divide it up into different saucepans for more adventurous flavors. That way you have more than one kind of cranberry sauce to serve. 

Can You Freeze Canned Cranberry Sauce?

If canned cranberry sauce is the route for you, it’s best to avoid freezing it. According to OceanSpray, an authority on cranberries, it is not recommended to freeze canned cranberry sauce. If you do, you may find yourself with a watery-goop later thanks to the gelatin. Instead you can refrigerate leftover canned and homemade cranberry sauce in a closed, air-tight, container for up to two weeks. If you have more leftover homemade cranberry sauce than you can use up in two weeks, here are our best tips for freezing cranberry sauce. 

How to Freeze Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Freezing homemade cranberry sauce is easy. Simply pour out your cranberry sauce leftovers in an air-tight container or a freezer bag. Just make sure the homemade cranberry sauce is cooled or at room temperature before freezing. 

Be thorough in removing all air from the bag because otherwise it can lead to freezer burn and your cranberry sauce won’t taste as good when thawed. You can also use a vacuum sealer for this if you have it. 

If you are freezing a lot of homemade cranberry sauce, divide it up into a few freezer bags. Then you can thaw out your cranberry sauce and use it gradually over the next few months. It can also make it easier to thaw out quickly. You could also use silicone molds for this and break off a cube of cranberry sauce at a time when ready to use. Another idea is to freeze your homemade cranberry sauce in mini mason jars. The portion sizes are great for using gradually at home or you can gift the mason jars as cute favors or presents for guests during the holidays. 

Always remember to label and date your cranberry sauce for freezing so you know when it’s good to use-by. Homemade cranberry sauce will freeze beautifully for about 3-4 months. Due to its water content, we don’t recommend freezing it for more than a couple of months.

How to Thaw Homemade Cranberry Sauce

When ready to take it out, let the cranberry sauce refrigerate overnight to thaw it out. Stir well before serving. You can also reheat it over the stove or in the microwave. 

Alternatively, if you’re in a rush or you forgot to thaw out your frozen cranberry sauce overnight, microwave it first; then dump it out into a sauce pan to thaw and reheat it all-in-one, over the stove. You could also thaw it out in a bowl of hot water and let the freezer bag float in it till it’s thawed enough to dump out into a saucepan for reheating.

How to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Once you’ve frozen your homemade cranberry sauce, there are multiple ways you can use it over the holiday season. Use it to dress up appetizers, for example. Frozen cranberry sauce is also handy for holiday baking; use it as a filling for thumbprint cookies or morning buns for the family. You can also spread it out, in lieu of jam, on morning toast, pancakes or waffles. Lastly, don’t limit yourself to pairing it just with turkey. Dress up beef, chicken or even tofu with a cranberry sauce glaze—it even works well as a weeknight meal. 

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