Why Your Cranberry Sauce Ended Up Too Runny - The Daily Meal (2024)

ByMatt Byrne|

There are a few items that are necessary for a traditional Thanksgiving. Whipped, creamy mashed potatoes are certainly a requirement to ensure you're maximizing your starch. However, tubers alone aren't enough carbohydrates to keep you energized for either your family football game or your Thanksgiving nap. To really get stimulated, or conversely, sedated, you're also going to need some stuffing. But that means it's time for another starch — enter the yams. However, those marshmallows on top weren't quite enough sugar, which is why nothing completes a Thanksgiving plate quite like cranberry sauce.

The history of cranberry sauce is actually one of the most fascinating parts of the Thanksgiving meal. Insider says that cranberries are one of the few fruits native to the United States, and were therefore harvested by Native Americans, along with blueberries and concord grapes.

However, none of that explains why your cranberry sauce is too runny. For those brave souls who know that cooking cranberry sauce from scratch is the only way to really enjoy it, sauce that is less like jelly and more like a sugary cranberry soup is common. If you're one of those who find their sauce is too thin, or who merely wants to get it so thick a knife stands up in it, then here's how to give it some bulk.

Three easy ways to thicken your runny cranberry sauce

Why Your Cranberry Sauce Ended Up Too Runny - The Daily Meal (2)

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The basic recipe for cranberry sauce is simple. You put water, sugar, and cranberries into a pot and heat them. That's it. If you feel like living on the edge, zest with lemon. Now you know how to free yourself from the canned stuff and get sauce your ancestors would be proud to serve along with freshly churned butter. Though they won't tolerate runny sauce, so it's time to fix that.

The simplest reason that your cranberry sauce is too runny is that it has too much liquid in it. Usually, this is just water, but some people use orange juice or other flavored fluids. No matter what you're using, the answer is to cook it longer. The longer you heat the sauce, the more water is going to evaporate out of it, and the thicker it's going to be, according to Eating Well. Cooking it also releases pectin, which NPR explains is used for gelling.

There's another ingredient that can help thicken up your sauce, and that's to add sugar. It might be a horrible hardship to make the sauce even sweeter, but you'll need to soldier on. McCormick notes that sugar can help thicken the sauce. If miraculously, cooking it longer, cutting down on liquids, and adding sugar still doesn't work, or you don't want to do any of those things, then you can try cornstarch, gelatin, or tapioca.


Why Your Cranberry Sauce Ended Up Too Runny - The Daily Meal (2024)


Why Your Cranberry Sauce Ended Up Too Runny - The Daily Meal? ›

Mistake #2: Your Cranberry Sauce Is Too Runny

What to do if your cranberry sauce is too runny? ›

Try reducing the sauce down even further so more of the liquid cooks off and the mixture thickens. If that doesn't work, add a thickener like gelatin, pectin or a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch whisked into juice or water). Let the sauce cool before refrigerating to completely set.

Will my cranberry sauce thicken in the fridge? ›

Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. To store, let cool completely, then transfer to a resealable container and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

How to fix cranberry sauce that is too tart? ›

"Instead, start by stirring in one tablespoon maple syrup and one teaspoon of a sweet drink like apple juice, orange juice, or fruity white or red wine. Add more to taste. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (in small amounts, it intensifies sweetness)."

Is it bad to eat too much cranberry sauce? ›

Cranberries and cranberry products are usually safe for most people if consumed in moderation. However, excessive consumption may cause stomach upset and diarrhea — and may also increase the risk of kidney stones in predisposed individuals.

Is cranberry sauce a laxative? ›

A single half-cup serving of cranberry sauce has one gram of fiber. When added to a diet rich in fiber, cranberry sauce can help relieve constipation.

How to tell if cranberry sauce is bad? ›

Regardless of a can's date, toss out any cranberry sauce cans that are leaky, rusted, 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, toss the can and its contents ASAP!

Why are my sauces always runny? ›

It is common for moisture and the natural fats/ oils of the ingredients to release during the cooking process causing the sauce to seem runny when you first remove the lid. Once fully cooked, you'll want to mix everything back together then move the temperature to 'Keep Warm' until you're ready to plate and serve.

How can I thicken a runny sauce? ›

Use Flour and Water

Combine 2 tablespoons flour with every 1/4 cup cold water and whisk until smooth. Add the mixture to your sauce over medium heat, and continue to stir and cook until you've reached your desired consistency. Test with a spoon.

How to improve cranberry sauce from a can? ›

Adding a teaspoon or two of fresh lemon or orange zest, a tablespoon of chopped candied peel, or even a splash of juice to your canned sauce will brighten flavors and bring in some homemade flavor.

Should cranberry sauce be served cold or room temperature? ›

Should homemade cranberry sauce be served cold? You'll want to cool your homemade cranberry sauce to room temperature first, as hot liquids can crack pretty serving dishes! After that, chilling it will not only help the cranberry sauce thicken and gel, but it preserves it as well.

What to do if cranberry sauce is too runny? ›

The simplest reason that your cranberry sauce is too runny is that it has too much liquid in it. Usually, this is just water, but some people use orange juice or other flavored fluids. No matter what you're using, the answer is to cook it longer.

What to do if your cranberry sauce is too sweet? ›

My cranberry sauce is too sweet now that I taste it. How do I fix it? Add a splash of red wine or apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt to lessen sweetness.

Why do you open cranberry sauce upside down? ›

But why? Ocean Spray says this is to get the cranberry sauce out in one intact piece. “The rounded part of the can that looks like the bottom has an air bubble in it,” Ocean Spray's representative explains. The bubble is there so you can “break the seal the sauce makes with the can.”

Is cranberry sauce good for your kidneys? ›

4. Cranberries. Cranberries are low in potassium and high in vitamin C, making them another great choice for people with kidney disease. Cranberry juice has also been shown to help prevent urinary tract infections, which are typical for people with kidney disease.

What does cranberry sauce do for your body? ›

Packed with antioxidants

The anthocyanins found in cranberries may have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. They may also: Protect against liver disease. Lower blood pressure.

Is cranberry sauce bad for your stomach? ›

Cranberry Sauce

Cooked fruits are generally easy to digest. At around 50 calories per cup, cranberries are packed full of fiber, and they do a body good. Cranberries have been shown to slow the growth of several types of cancer cells, prevent urinary tract infections, and can help your cholesterol.

Can you eat too much cranberry sauce? ›

Cranberries are generally safe, but they can sometimes lead to upset stomach and diarrhea when eaten in large quantities, especially by young children. Mayo Clinic cautions against drinking cranberry juice if you're on a blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven).

Is jellied cranberry sauce healthy? ›

Health Benefits

Cranberries are also rich in vitamin C and fiber, as well as the metabolism-boosting mineral manganese. And yes, you reap all these benefits whether the cranberry sauce on your holiday table is homemade or canned, jellied or whole-berry.

What can I drink to stop diarrhea fast? ›

Rice Water

This diarrhea remedy is often recommended for babies but may also help adults. In addition to providing nutrients, the slightly starchy solution is binding. To make rice water: Combine 1 to 2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of white or brown rice (do not use the instant type).

What happens if you cook cranberry sauce too long? ›

If your cranberry sauce is too thick, it's most likely overcooked. When you cook cranberries (or any berries), they burst, releasing pectin—a natural thickener. The key to a perfect consistency is to allow some but not all of the cranberries to split open—something you'll achieve with less time on the stove.

How long does store bought cranberry sauce last in the fridge? ›

Prior to opening, cranberry sauce can be stored at room temperature or the refrigerator. After opening, remove from the can and store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. We do not recommend freezing cranberry sauce, as after thawing, it may become too watery.

Does cranberry sauce thicken as it cools? ›

The sauce will thicken as it cools. If you want a cranberry mold that holds its shape, continue to boil the mixture so that more pectin is released from the fruit, additional water evaporates, and the sauce becomes thick enough to set into a firm gel.

Can I use cornstarch to thicken my cranberry sauce? ›

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmering and cook until cranberries are tender, stirring occasionally. In a small cup make a slurry with cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Whisk cornstarch mixture into cranberry sauce and cook, whisking, until sauce thickens.

Can you save cranberry sauce? ›

Unopened canned cranberry sauce can last a year in the pantry but make sure to check the "best before" date to make sure it hasn't expired, and once open, it can be stored in a container with a tightly fitting lid for up to two weeks.

How do you warm up cranberry sauce? ›

But in my experience, heating the canned sauce up takes its flavor to the next level. Plus, it becomes a little more aesthetically pleasing. When you're dealing with canned whole cranberry sauce, you can pour it into a small pot and bring it to a low boil.

What do you do if your cranberry sauce is too sweet? ›

Luckily, there is a very easy way to fix an over-sugared homemade sauce: You just need a little citric acid. Sure, you could add lemon, but that brings its own, cranberry-obscuring flavor.

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