Get ideas on how to serve canned cranberry sauce including ways to spruce it up for Thanksgiving.

By Real Simple
Updated November 19, 2017

Canned cranberry sauce is tradition at many Thanksgivings, and for good reason. Why make homemade if your family has been enjoying the slices of store-bought canned cranberry sauce for years? But what is cranberry sauce in a can? Canned cranberry sauce is made with fresh cranberries that are cooked in water, sweetened, cooked again until the berries have broken down, and poured into cans. The ingredients in canned cranberry sauce typically include cranberries, corn syrup, water, and citric acid (a preservative). Interestingly, canned cranberry sauce contains no gelatin or pectin, because cranberries themselves have a high pectin content. Read on for tips on what to do with canned cranberry sauce and how to serve canned cranberry sauce.

How to Prepare Canned Cranberry Sauce From a Can

First things first—open the can with a can opener. This may sound obvious, but most (if not all) canned cranberry sauces are actually meant to be opened from the bottom of the can. After opening, run a knife around the jellied sauce to help loosen it from the can. Gently slide the jelly onto a platter.

How to Serve Cranberry Sauce From a Can

The most traditional way of serving canned cranberry sauce is sliced into rounds. Another option is to use cookie cutters to cut out cute fall shapes, such as leaves. Arrange on a serving platter.

How to Spruce Up Canned Cranberry Sauce

Begin by slicing the canned cranberry sauce into ¼-inch thick rounds. Then, try one of our three suggestions for sprucing it up.

  1. Sugared Rosemary: Dip rosemary sprigs in water, then sprinkle with sugar. Let dry on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Arrange on top of sliced cranberry sauce.
  2. Candied Ginger: arrange strips of candied ginger on top of sliced cranberry sauce.
  3. Orange and Thyme: Combine orange zest and thyme leaves on a cutting board and coarsely chop. Use the mixture as a garnish for the sliced cranberry sauce.