How Long Does Cranberry Sauce Last?

Has your Thanksgiving cranberry sauce gone bad? Learn how to tell—plus some basic tips on this popular side dish's life expectancy.

Perhaps you made your cranberry sauce a while back, and now you’re wondering, "How long does this stuff last in the fridge?" Or maybe you spotted a can of cranberry sauce in the back of your pantry, and you’d love to eat it, but...has it gone bad by now? Here is everything you need to know about the storage and care of cranberry sauce, whether homemade or in a can.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

How long does homemade cranberry sauce last in the fridge? It depends on how you stored it.

When properly stored in the fridge—in a covered glass or plastic container—homemade cranberry sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 10 to 14 days.

When properly stored in the freezer—in a covered, airtight container or freezer-safe bag—it will stay fresh-tasting for about one month. And it will still be safe to eat (though less fresh-tasting) for up to a year beyond that. Additionally, fresh whole cranberries can be frozen in their original bag for a year.

How can you tell if homemade cranberry sauce is bad or spoiled? If it has an off smell, flavor, or appearance, or if mold appears, toss it.

Canned Cranberry Sauce

As long as canned cranberry sauce is stored in a consistently cool pantry, it will keep (and taste good) for at least a year beyond the date stamped on the can. (The date is the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the cranberry sauce will remain at peak quality; it’s not a safety-related deadline.)

After a few years, if the can is not dented, the cranberry sauce’s texture, color, or flavor may change, but it likely won’t be dangerous. Again, use your senses to test whether the cranberry sauce is still good. Toss out cans that are leaking, rusting, bulging, or severely dented. If the top of the can is rounded instead of flat, the cranberry sauce has most likely gone bad. If you open the can and anything is brown or black, throw the cranberry sauce away ASAP!

To store canned cranberry sauce that's already been opened, remove the cranberry sauce from the can and place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay good there for about a week. Frozen canned cranberry sauce isn’t the best idea, as it will turn watery. But it will stay good for a month.

Cranberry Sauce That Got Left Out Overnight

We hear you: After a full day of cooking and hosting and (hopefully) enjoying Thanksgiving, some things are bound to fall by the wayside. But if you leave cranberry sauce out overnight, whether it is homemade or store-bought, throw it away.

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