Like nearly every other dish on the Thanksgiving table, people have strong opinions about the cranberries. Should they be jellied or whole? Plain or spiced? However you prefer them, one thing is certain: If you’re the cook, your stovetop is precious real estate come Turkey Day, and sometimes homemade cranberry sauce isn’t in the cards. So, what are the best store-bought cranberry sauce options? We found ten that are holiday worthy, from undulating canned jellies to fancy-pants whole berry relishes.
The Best Store-Bought Cranberry Sauce, from Jiggling Jelly to Whole Berry
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What We Looked for in a Cranberry Sauce and How We Rated Them:
Our criteria for choosing the best store-bought cranberry sauce were largely dependent on the style of sauce in question, but overall, we looked for an authentic and balanced cranberry flavor—we wanted to taste the tartness of the fruit, and while we didn’t want cloyingly sweet sauces, anything too mouth-puckering or bitter got points docked. We looked for jelly-style sauces that held their shape, and whole berry sauces that tasted fresh enough to pass for homemade. Finally, we focused most on brands that are most widely available, whether in national grocery stores or online.
Beyond that, we relied on personal taste-tests, online reviews and anecdotes from Thanksgiving-loving PureWow staffers.
The Best Store-Bought Cranberry Sauce at a Glance:
Scroll down for in-depth reviews of each.
- Best Overall: Stonewall Kitchen New England Cranberry Relish
- Best Jelly-Style: Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
- Best Whole Berry: Williams Sonoma Cranberry Bourbon Sauce
- Best Organic Jelly-Style: Whole Foods 365 Organic Jellied Cranberry Sauce
- Most Gourmet: Sarabeth’s Cranberry Relish
- Best Value: Trader Joe’s Cranberry Sauce
- Most Traditional: New England Cranberry Colonial Cranberry Sauce
- Best Non-Traditional Flavor: First Field Cranberry Sauce
- Most Nostalgic: Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry Sauce
- Best Spiced: Stonewall Kitchen Holiday Spiced Cranberry Sauce
If you’re panicking over the turkey, gravy and sweet potatoes, you can (and should) let yourself off the hook with this cooked, whole cranberry sauce. With just cranberries, cane sugar, orange and a touch of spice (plus tapioca starch for texture), it tastes bright and fresh—remarkably like the homemade sauce we know and love.
It’s a holiday staple for good reason: Ocean Spray’s classic Jellied Cranberry Sauce (yep, the one you splorp from a can) is equal parts nostalgic, sweet, tart and satisfyingly jiggly. We appreciated how easily it slid out of the can, plus that it holds its shape without being too firm. The taste was on the sweet side, but with enough tartness to shine through. (Hot tip: PureWow’s senior food editor suggests upping the camp factor by slicing the sauce into mini turkeys with a cookie cutter.)
Best Whole Berry
The benefit of making cranberry sauce from scratch is twofold: You can control the texture and customize the flavor as you please. Jarred whole berry sauces often lack that special something, but this one has warm spices and boozy notes that elevate it to as-good-as-homemade status. Key lime and orange juices balance the sweetness level, and the brown sugar accentuates and complements the bourbon and cinnamon.
Best Organic Jelly-Style
Whole Foods 365
Whole Foods’s organic jellied cranberry sauce isn’t quite the smooth, glistening jiggler you grew up with, and that’s not a bad thing. It features some whole cranberries in its jelly for added texture, along with a tangy, crisp flavor that tasters appreciated. Even better, it’s made without high fructose corn syrup.
You’re serving duck instead of turkey, you made the sourdough for the stuffing by hand and you’re looking for the fanciest store-bought cranberry sauce money can buy. Enter this option from Sarabeth’s, which is made from just cranberries, oranges and sugar. It’s smooth, sweet-tart and gives “Ina Garten store-bought is fine vibes” with every bite.
We’d run in front of traffic for Joe and his seasonal treats (kidding, kind of), and this shelf-stable, whole cranberry sauce is no exception. For about $3 for a 12-ounce jar, you’ll get tart, deep cranberry flavor that isn’t covered up by a ton of sugar. The sauce is made from just four ingredients (cranberries, sugar, water and pectin), so it tastes like homemade, too. In fact, PureWow’s editor in chief, Jillian Quint, says it tastes better than homemade—add orange slices and your guests will think you whipped it up yourself.
New England Cranberry
At $9 for a 12-ounce jar, this whole berry cranberry sauce is pricier than your run-of-the-mill grocery store options, but if you’re going all out or cooking for just a few, it’s worth the splurge. One reviewer claims the “only thing better would be making it yourself…maybe,” and others praised its “tart but not too tart” flavor. The texture is slightly thinner than other store-bought cranberry sauces, ideal for mingling with the turkey and stuffing on your plate. (And not for nothing, the sauce is made by hand in Amesbury, Massachusetts.)
Best Non-Traditional Flavor
While we love tradition, we’re also all for switching things up at Thanksgiving, and this sweet-and-savory jar is just the ticket. The New Jersey-grown cranberries are accentuated with vanilla and mustard—a combination that sounds odd on paper but gives the sauce a fresh, modern flavor that we thoroughly enjoyed. It’s not too sweet, and the texture is balanced between mashed and whole berries.
If a jiggling, jewel-toned, can-shaped tower of cranberries isn’t your idea of the holiday, Ocean Spray’s whole berry option might be more your style. Reviewers praised its “rich flavor” and said it had a “nice texture from the whole cranberries.” It’s sweeter than some of our other picks, but would pair well with the savory options on the table (like an orange and herb turkey, hint hint).
If you find plain cranberry sauce too blah, this spiced option will bring the festive flavor to your holiday spread. Like Stonewall Kitchen’s traditional cranberry sauce, it has a chunky texture that reminded us of homemade, plus plenty of tart-bitter cranberry notes. Ginger puree, brandy and warm winter spices like anise are the star ingredients that take it over the top.
Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City restaurants. She used to sling sugary desserts in a pastry kitchen, but now she’s an avid home cook and fanatic baker.