When we consider Thanksgiving dinner, it’s probably the turkey and stuffing that immediately pops into our mind’s eye. But never far away from that giant roasted bird and all the sides is a beautiful bowl of cranberry sauce.
Cranberry sauce is deep in crimson color and becomes a focal point of the tablescape as it adds a festive note of color to an array of foods that are, at times rather, well, beige. This sauce can be saucy or jelly-like, sweet or tart, or even spicy, but it’ll add a bit of pizzazz to everything around it.
Some families may have a time-honored recipe, but others insist that the best cranberry sauce you have comes in a can. Whether you have been using the same brand and variety for years or just found the one you love, there are some pretty delicious ones to choose from.
1. Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
BEST JELLIED CRANBERRY SAUCE
This jellied cranberry sauce is exactly what you dream about when you fantasize about Thanksgiving dinner. This one glides right out of a can the perfect shade of deep dark red — precisely what you want your cranberry sauce to look like — and the taste is a firm full-body jelly and none of that unappetizing graininess. It’s tart, it’s sweet, and it’s everything we expect from cranberry sauce.
2. Stonewall Kitchen New England Cranberry Relish
BEST UPSCALE OPTION
This New England-style cranberry sauce feels like a splurge, but let us be realistic here; it’s premade and under $10. Still, this has a bit of a homemade feel that we truly appreciate, with whole berries, not a puree or a preserve, and it’s just the right kind of sweet. You’ll also taste that tartness, bitterness, and acidity that cranberry sauce is supposed to have. Orange juice, orange peel, cloves and other spices give this relish the subtle spice and orange notes that make it feel and taste like the holidays.
3. Trader Joe’s Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
It’s hard to find Trader Joe’s products online, so the easiest bet here is to stop by a store location and stock up, but it’s well worth it. This is a delicious, straightforward, no bells and whistles, whole berry cranberry sauce. The color is a deep, perfect crimson, and there’s a texture that feels like it could be homemade. It’s also not too sweet, but just sweet enough, which is a balance often hard to master with canned cranberry sauce options.
4. Silver Spring Foods Cranberry Horseradish
BEST OPTION WITH A TWIST
If you are craving a spicy zing in your cranberry sauce, there’s a great option out there that adds horseradish to the mix. Sure, that probably sounds rather unorthodox for a Thanksgiving turkey feast, but it’ll work well on those leftover turkey sandwiches the next day as well as on that cheese plate or Crudités platter at the evening’s start. It’s cranberry sauce with a kick, and that kick makes this worth experiencing.
5. Stonewall Kitchen Hot Pepper Cranberry Jelly
BEST SPICY OPTION
If horseradish isn’t the type of kick you’re after, try this great pick from Stonewall Kitchen. This cranberry jelly works jalapenos and pepper sauce into the blend for a result that’s spicy and packs some heat. It’s also still tart and sweet, which gives it notes of the familiar even while kicking it up. Use this to add some flavor to any sides on the table that maybe aren’t all that flavorful (we won’t say anything). It’ll also pair beautifully with cheeses or with leftovers in a sandwich.
6. Mrs. Bridges Cranberry Sauce With Port
BEST BOOZY OPTION
For many of us, it’s hard to get through an extended family dinner without having a drink — good thing this cranberry sauce is made with port. It’s only a dash, but the port’s flavors shine through and go so beautifully with the cranberry sauce. It elevates the taste by making it so complex; you’ll wish you always made it like this. It’s smooth, beautifully balanced and even the jar is attractive!
7. Market Pantry Whole Cranberry Sauce
BEST FOR A BULK STOCK-UP
This option is loaded with berry taste and is tart and sweet. It has just enough sour tartness to show off its natural cranberry flavor. While it contains no orange zest like others on our list, that’s easily remedied by mixing it in before serving. That makes it easier to pretend you made it yourself.
8. Williams-Sonoma Cranberry Relish
BEST FANCY OPTION
Perfectly balanced, you’ll taste the sweetness of the cranberries with the undercurrent of perfect levels of tartness right off the bat. There are also delicious underlying notes of clove and orange to balance the sour with spice and a beautiful chunky texture of whole cranberries — nothing crushed in this jar. Out of the jar, it tastes the most homemade on our list.
9. New England Cranberry Colonial Cranberry Sauce
This simple sauce is basic, and that’s precisely what many of us crave from a cranberry sauce. The only ingredients on this packaging are cranberries, sugar and water, which is an important consideration if you try to avoid extra ingredients or unnecessary additives. But the short and straightforward ingredient list does not get in the way of flavor, and this sauce is sweet and tart and nothing else. And that is quite lovely.
10. Woodstock Organic Cranberry Sauce Jellied
BEST ORGANIC OPTION
There are no artificial colors or preservatives in this cranberry sauce, meaning you get just what you want and nothing more. We’re all trying to be a bit healthier and mindful, so the clean ingredients found in this organic option offer peace of mind. Don’t worry — it doesn’t taste “healthy.” It’s wholesome and delicious, with balanced sweetness and loads of classic cranberry sauce flavor.