How to Freeze Leftover Cranberry Sauce (Best Containers & Leftover Recipes

We always have leftovers at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and want to find some way to save or use the leftovers rather than throw them out.

Cranberry sauce always seems to be one of those leftovers that needs a creative solution. 

If you don’t expect to eat all the leftover cranberry sauce in the few days after Thanksgiving, you can freeze it until Christmas. Homemade cranberry sauce and canned whole berry cranberry sauce freeze well in airtight containers for 3 months.

Jellied cranberry sauce does not freeze well because the texture changes and becomes watery.

Keep reading for details about freezing and storing cranberry sauce, ideas for using leftover cranberry sauce, and recipes for homemade cranberry sauce.

Freezing Whole Cranberry Sauces

Whether you make your own cranberry sauce with a traditional family recipe or buy already prepared cranberry sauce, you can freeze the portions you don’t use.

In fact, when you make your own, consider making enough for 3 months and go ahead and freeze what you need for the future.

This will save you time and stress when you prepare holiday meals. 

Zip-Top Freezer Bags

You can store the sauce in zip-top freezer bags. After putting the cranberry sauce into your bag, squeeze out any excess air and smooth the bag flat.

Label it with the date you made the sauce and the date you froze it so you will know when to eat it or discard it.

Air Tight Containers

Another option for freezing whole berry cranberry sauce is to store it in air-tight plastic containers.

Use a container that will be almost full with the cranberry sauce you want to freeze. Leave only a small amount of room for the cranberry sauce to expand as it freezes. 

You might also use a combination of zip-top bags and plastic storage containers.

After putting your cranberry sauce in zip-top bags, you can stack the bags in one large plastic container.


This is especially helpful for keeping your freezer tidy, guarding against freezer burn, or storing items in a chest freezer without crushing them.

Storing Leftover Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Jellied cranberry sauce does not hold up in the freezer well. The jelly loses its structure and becomes watery when it thaws. 

However, This jellied sauce stays good in the refrigerator for two weeks, so you have plenty of time to use the leftover cranberry sauce. 

Making Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce

This basic recipe for whole cranberry sauce is a complement to your holiday meals.

Make this sauce a day or two early to take the stress off of a full day of Thanksgiving cooking, or double the recipe and freeze half for your Christmas dinner.

Basic Whole Cranberry Sauce Recipe

The basic recipe for cranberry sauce is 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, and 4 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries.

In a large pot, boil the water, then stir in the sugar, so it dissolves. Add the cranberries and return the contents of the pot to a boil.

Turn down the heat and simmer until the cranberries burst. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks for freeze for 3 months. 

Options For Whole Cranberry Sauce Recipe

You can make simple changes to the basic cranberry sauce recipe to add your own flair and flavor profile. 

Replace the cup of water with ½ cup of water and ½ cup of orange juice for a fresh citrusy burst of flavor.

Reduce the granulated sugar for a more tart flavor, or substitute Splenda for a sugar-free option. 

You can also add additional flavors after the cranberries burst. Try ½ cup of chopped pecans, a couple of pinches of orange zest, or a pinch of cinnamon or allspice.

For a sweeter flavor without adding more granulated sugar, try adding golden raisins or blueberries. 

Using Leftover Whole Cranberry Sauce 

Your leftover cranberry sauce will be good in the refrigerator for two weeks or in the freezer for 3 months.

We have gathered some fun ways to use your leftover cranberries and cranberry sauce before the storage time is up.

Cranberry Sauce

1.Cranberry Sauce Muffins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare muffin pans with liners.

In one bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon cardamom in a bowl.

In a large bowl, beat ¾ cup of milk, ¼ cup vegetable oil, 1 egg, beaten, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Slowly add the flour mixture, continue mixing, and then fold in the 1 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce. 

Fill muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes.

2.Cranberry Turkey Salad

Try out this turkey salad dish to use your leftover whole cranberry sauce and your leftover turkey. 

In a large bowl, combine ⅓ cup roasted cashews chopped, 1 celery stalk, chopped, ⅓ – ½ cup mayonnaise, juice from ½ an orange, ½ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of sage, ¼ teaspoon of thyme, and pepper to taste.

Fold in 3 cups chopped cooked leftover turkey and ½ – 1 cup whole cranberry sauce until everything is evenly distributed and coated in the sauce. Serve as a sandwich filling or on a salad.

3.Cranberry Breakfast Smoothies and Oatmeal

Use your leftover whole cranberry sauce for a smoothie. In your blender, add 1 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce, 1 cup apple cider, 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup of yogurt, and a dash of cinnamon.

If you like orange with your cranberry, try orange juice instead of apple cider.

Another simple breakfast option is to top your morning oatmeal with whole berry cranberry sauce.

This doesn’t require any special instructions, just warm it up and spoon it on. Try adding some brown sugar and cinnamon to even out the tartness of the cranberry sauce.

Using Leftover Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Since freezing leftover jellied cranberry sauce doesn’t turn out well, you may be looking for creative ways to use your sauce instead of throwing it out.

The typical suggestion you find is to add some cranberry sauce to your leftover turkey sandwich – which is a good suggestion. However, that does not embrace your creativity.

Try one of the following ideas for using your leftover jellied cranberry sauce.

1.Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

Make these simple peanut butter thumbprint cookies and use the leftover jellied cranberry sauce as the filling.

In a mixing bowl, beat ½ cup of butter, softened, ½ cup of white sugar, and ½ cup of brown sugar until it is light and fluffy.

Next, add in ½ of your favorite peanut butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and one egg and beat until mixed well. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 ½ cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking soda.

Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and mix well. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

In another bowl, mix your jellied cranberry sauce and a tablespoon of sugar. Use a mixer or a fork to break up the jelly so that it is soft and smooth. 

Roll the cookie dough into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheets. Press your thumb or a spoon handle into the cookies to make an indentation.

Spoon a small amount of cranberry jelly into the indent of each cookie and bake for 15 minutes.

After the cookies cool, you can add another scoop of the jellied cranberry sauce.

2.Cranberry Tequila Chicken Skewers

Use your Christmas jellied cranberry sauce at New Year’s to make this chicken skewer appetizer for your New Year’s Eve party.

Soak your bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. While they soak, cut 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts into strips and then skewer them on wooden skewers.

Marinate your chicken in ½ cup of cranberry juice, ¼ cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons tequila, and 1 teaspoon Sriracha for 1-4 hours in the refrigerator.

In another bowl, make a basting sauce for your chicken by combining ½ jellied cranberry sauce, 2 tablespoons caramel sauce, 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard, and 1 tablespoon lime juice.

Coat the chicken skewers with this basting sauce while grilling. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving. 

3.Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

A bite-sized party favorite is a slow cooker full of Hilshire Farms Lit’l Smokies sausages covered in barbecue sauce.

Or, if you are feeling generous, wrap each one in crescent roll dough, bake according to the package, and serve with barbecue dipping sauce. 

Use your leftover jellied cranberry sauce to make a unique holiday barbecue sauce for your tiny sausages. 

In a saucepan, combine 1 can (or your leftover) jellied cranberry sauce, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of your favorite prepared mustard.

Cook, stirring often, over medium heat until the cranberry sauce melts and all ingredients are combined. 

Concluding Thoughts

You can freeze whole cranberry sauce for up to 3 months in an air-tight container. Make your own sauce in October and save the portions you need for November and December to take some stress out of Holiday cooking.

Jellied cranberry sauce loses its texture and becomes watery when frozen, so keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Try one of the recipes for a creative way to use up your leftover cranberry sauce.

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