How To Make Smooth Cranberry Sauce

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Sure, you can do classic cranberry sauce, with the whole berries still in it. It’s just so very grown up.

But if you’re like me, when someone says “cranberry sauce” the picture in your head has rings around it, left by the can you just opened. And you can almost hear that slurpy sound as it comes out.

I can’t promise the rings or the slurpy sound, but if your wife won’t let you serve the canned to guests, this will absolutely nail the taste you remember from your childhood.

Ingredients


1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen whole cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
(yes, this is the exact same ingredients as the classic cranberry sauce)

Directions

A lot of this is going to look just like the last cranberry sauce recipe — see above for the link — except with different hands. If you just want to see the differences, feel free to scroll down past 13 photos and 2 videos. Or just click here and jump right to it.

Start by rinsing the berries under cold water. Fresh or frozen, you can get right in there with your hands and work them around.

Sort through and pick out any that are split, shriveled, or not ripe — meaning they’re much lighter in color than the rest.

Mix the sugar and water in a pan and stir, then put on high heat until it comes to a boil.


Add the berries and stir, then bring back to a boil. If yours were frozen, like mine were, it will take several minutes.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries start to pop.

If you listen closely, you’ll hear them popping like popcorn. That’s when you know they’re done.

Put your colander directly in — or if you’re lucky, it will fit on top of — your serving bowl.

Pour the cooked berries into the colander. Make sure to scrape everything out. The pectin in the berries — that’s what’s going to make it gel up — will stick to the sides. You want to get it all into the bowl.

Press all the berries through the colander. You’ll probably start with the spatula, like I did.

Don’t waste your time with anything flexible. It’s completely useless. Use something rigid. Like … oh … how about a glass.

Yeah, that’s better. Keep mashing until all you’ve got left is the skins from the berries. Then scrape off everything that stuck to the bottom.

As cool as the top looks, with all those little peaks, you’ve got to stir it if you want an even consistency.

Then wipe the rim. You won’t want to try cleaning it after it sets.

Don’t taste it now. This is for dinner later. If you start snacking you’re going to eat half the bowl.

Instead, put it in the fridge for a couple of hours so it will set.

The final texture is somewhere between the jellied stuff in the can, and fruit preserves. Serve with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, gravy and corn.

And that’s it.


Some readers mentioned in the comments after the other cranberry sauce recipe that you can replace the water with orange juice. If that’s too bold for you, try going half-and-half. Got any other suggestions? Share them below or in the forum.

Cranberry Sauce: Smooth

Cranberry Sauce: Smooth

Ingredients

  • 1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

Rinse berries in cold water. Sort through and pick out any that are split, shriveled, or not ripe -- meaning they're much lighter in color than the rest.

Mix the sugar and water in a pan and stir, then put on high heat until it comes to a boil. Add the berries and stir, then bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries start to pop.

Pour the cooked berries into a colander. Press everything through with a large spoon or the bottom of a glass. (Alternatively, process through a food mill.) Stir gently, and refrigerate until set.

Comments

  1. Mike Stockman says:

    My only suggestion is that a food mill might be easier than the glass-and-colander method.

    I use mine for the whole tomatoes when I make tomato sauce, for cooked apples to make applesauce, for cooked butternut squash to make really smooth cooked butternut squash, etc. I use the Foley food mill, because that’s what my grandmother and mother used, but newer designs might be better. And sometimes I’d like a food mill where someone else (or a motor of some kind) turns the damn thing, but I haven’t seen one of those. Food mills are great.

    Otherwise, thanks for the recipe. But you didn’t explain how to get the little rings around the sides of the cylinder-shaped sauce. Let us know if you figure that one out.

  2. Yup, I’m with Mike on this one. Food mill all the way. If you have one. But if you don’t, pressing through a colander works too–it just takes too dang long for those of us accustomed to a food mill.

  3. I’ve been checking the thrift stores for a food mill for a couple of months. If I had more of a garden, with a lot of veg to process, I’d break down and buy a new one. But right now, this is the … umm, second time this year I would have wanted one. I’m too cheap for that.

  4. I also add cloves for an extra flavor kick. Oh my gosh, it tastes so incredible with turkey!

  5. Mike, my family makes applesauce by the hundreds of quarts and tomato sauce, too (usually just packed tomatoes though). But the applesauce was a LOT of turning the crank on our Squeezo Strainer from Garden Way (very expensive, Drew!!). My brother (who does carpentry work) was thoughtfully looking at where the crank was attached… hmmmm… went and got his drill and voila!! We now have backup batteries and a drill that does all the “cranking”!!!

  6. We have the same dishes!

  7. Stephanie, I’m having a hard time imagining cloves in it. Although if I were the kind of person who dipped my turkey in the cranberry I think it would make more sense.

    Barb, a motorized food mill would be awesome. Actually I think there’s a food mill attachment for the Kitchenaid. Hmm, I wonder how much that costs …

    Vey, I’ll bet you don’t have as many of them, though. My mother-in-law has wanted the full set of Blue Willow since before I met my wife. She’s now got service for 16, plus several of the platters. We’ve got our eyes open for the soup tureen. Do you have any idea what that thing costs new?

  8. Mike Stockman says:

    The drill idea is one worth pursuing, Barb, so thanks. I’m not sure how I’d hook one up to the Foley food mill, but I’ll certainly look at it next time I make the “Sunday gravy” (tomato sauce)… food milling all of those tomatoes is somehow harder than the apples for applesauce. Or maybe I’m just a wimp.

    As for the Kitchen Aid mixer attachment, it seems that the food mill attachment is an add-on to the food grinder attachment, so (at Williams-Sonoma anyway) the combo would set you back about $115. I suppose I can hand-crank a lot of apples and tomatoes before I shell that out. Although that drill idea is appealing, and free. :-)

  9. Mike, I’ve already got the grinder. But the mill/strainer costs 50% more than the grinder did. That doesn’t make any sense to me.

  10. Mike Stockman says:

    OK, fine, how about $42? I suspect it’s pricier because it’s in lower demand than the grinder, so KitchenAid charges more for it… if you need it, you’ll pay. Anyway, it’s nice to know it’s available, although the reviews suggest it’s kind of a mess to use.

    Nice thing about the Foley food mill is that (like the other basket-style mills) it fits nicely right over the bowl, and nothing spills or leaks. I only wanted a mechanical version because I’m lazy. :-)

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’d suggest using a funnel shaped metal colander like I use when making applesauce or tomato sauce; it comes with a round wooden mallet (can’t recall what you call it) and you run it around the inside of the colander presing the food through; works great

  12. That sounds like a food mill like Mike mentioned before.

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