Jellied Cranberry Sauce Recipe with Spicebush and Orange

Here’s a holiday cranberry sauce recipe from my book Preserving EverythingIt has gorgeous color and flavor, and slides out of its jar ready to be sliced. Yes, like the commercial stuff you buy in a can…but SO much tastier!

Homemade jellied cranberry sauce with spicebush and orange

Homemade jellied cranberry sauce with spicebush and orange

If you don’t have spicebush (Lindera benzoin) you can substitute a combination of black pepper and allspice as I suggest in the ingredient list.

Although I usually prefer to use less sugar than this when I make whole cranberry sauce, for the jellied version it’s best not to reduce the sugar if you want a reliably sliceable gel.

Makes 1 to 2 half pint jars (recipe can be doubled)


12 ounces whole cranberries

Juice and zest of 1 organically grown orange

1/2 – 3/4 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

6 lightly crushed spicebush berries OR 2 black peppercorns plus 4 whole allspice


1. Sterilize the canning jars by immersing them in boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the canning lids to the water, and keep them immersed in the hot water for up to 1 hour while you proceed with the recipe.

2. Grate the zest of the orange with a microplane or the fine-holed side of a box grater, removing only the aromatic orange outer layer and none of the bitter white pith. It is important to use an organically grown orange when you are going to use the zest unless you want some pesticides in your sauce (ewwwww). Reserve the zest and compost the pith.

3. Cut the naked, zested orange in half. Squeeze the juice into a measuring cup, being sure to strain out any seeds. Add water to make a total of 1 cup liquid.

4. Put the cup of liquid, the cranberries, and the sugar into a pot on the stove. Tie the spices into a cheesecloth bundle and add them to the other ingredients.

5. Bring the ingredients to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. The cranberries will start to make popping sounds as they split open. Keep boiling them over high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the cranberries have popped. Some of the cranberries may still look whole, but if they squish softly when you press them against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon, they’ve popped.

6. Once the cranberries have popped, cook the sauce for an additional 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Remove and discard the spice bundle.

7. If you have a food mill, run the sauce through it to remove the cranberry skins. If you don’t have a food mill, puree the sauce in a blender or food processor and then use the back of a spoon to press it through a sieve or fine-holed colander.

8. Whisk the orange zest into the sauce.

9. Spoon the sauce into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch of head space. Wipe the rims clean and secure the lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes (adjust the canning time if you live at a high altitude).

Note: The sauce will still be very soft when you spoon it into the jars. It will firm up as it cools. Wait 24 hours before attempting to remove it from the jars in a single piece.

Here’s a quick video showing these steps.

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