This recipe (inspired by Marisa of Food in Jars) is super easy to put together, and the results are far better than anything you’d buy in the store. Cranberries should have enough natural pectin in them to set properly, but I prefer to use a little dry pectin anyhow, as I’ve had a couple jellies that failed to set in the past. I also like to add in warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, but you can leave these out if you’re going for that true from-the-can flavor. Bottom line: Don’t let the jelly lovers in your family settle for store-bought any longer. We’re worth it. —Carey Nershi
Test Kitchen Notes
Cranberry sauce, whether you love it or don't like it so much, is always a standard on many Thanksgiving tables. Sometimes, it's not really the star, and a jar of it gets plopped on a plate and served at the table. But we know there are many, many cranberry sauce and jelly fans out there, so we believe that this go-to side should get the love that it deserves. You can definitely tell the difference between store-bought and homemade, and this recipe will show you how to do it. As the developer said, you can make it taste even better with the addition of spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, which would really put your cranberry jelly over the top. But if you'd like to keep things traditional, feel free to skip. Molding it in the can will produce all the nostalgic vibes you need. You can make a double batch of this and let it set in a Bundt pan for a festive effect, or use whatever other fancy mold you have to make this as impressive-looking as possible.
Keep in mind that when making this recipe that it’s best to use a can that’s BPA-free and once held a neutral-tasting food, to avoid imparting any unwanted flavors. You don't want anything else seeping into your cranberry jelly as it sits. Otherwise, this recipe is very straightforward and foolproof, and you can experiment every year with the spices and texture to please all the cranberry lovers out there. They won't be disappointed! —The Editors
- Prep time 12 hours 15 minutes
- Cook time 15 minutes
- Makes 1 can
2 1/2 cups
1 1/2 cups
1 1/2 teaspoons
dry pectin (optional, but recommended)
ground cinnamon (optional)
ground nutmeg (optional)
ground cloves (optional)
Juice of ½ lemon
- Place cranberries in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, pectin, if using, and spices, if using. Add the sugar mixture to the cranberries and stir to combine. Add the cider and lemon juice.
- Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once the cranberries have burst and the sauce has thickened, remove the pan from the heat. (If the sauce seems too thick, just add a splash of water or cider to thin it out.)
- Run the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve or food mill until all that’s left are the bits of seeds and skins. Pour the strained sauce into an empty can. Cover the can with foil or plastic wrap and let set in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
- When it’s time to serve, run a butter knife around the sides of the jelly. If it still doesn’t seem to want to slide out, crack open the bottom of the can with a can opener. (No need to try to take the bottom off—just a little bit of air should take care of the vacuum and let the jelly slide out easily.)