Can You Freeze Cranberry Sauce? The Complete Guide

For myself, the most enjoyable and looked forward to part of the holidays is the gathering together of friends and family.  Ever since I was a small child, I can remember through the years that my mother’s family may not have seen much of one another throughout the rest of the year, but they made it a point to come together for the holidays.

I can remember them sitting at the dinner table, exchanging stories of what happened over the past year, and reminiscing on their younger days.  To me, this was as much a part of the holidays as anything else.  

Their camaraderie was usually best enjoyed over a holiday dinner, complete with turkey and all the trimmings.  And the most loved traditional trimming was that of cranberry sauce.  Nothing makes the holiday turkey taste even more heavenly than a spoonful of fresh cranberry sauce on the side.

However, no matter how many showed up for dinner, there was always some of this delicious treat leftover.  I often wondered to myself, so as not to waste it, can you freeze cranberry sauce? The good news is that yes you can – they’ll keep their quality for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about properly storing your leftover cranberry sauce!


Can Cranberry Sauce be Frozen?

Cranberries are a fruit, and like most fruits, they can be frozen if handled correctly. 

However, there are three caveats when freezing cranberry sauce: cool it down, wrap it well, and label it. 

In reality, these rules apply to just about any homemade meal that you intend to freeze for later. 

The best part about freezing leftover sauce is that it is not over complicated.  The process for freezing either store-bought or homemade cranberry sauce is the same.

How Long Does Cranberry Sauce Last in the Freezer?

If adequately cooled and wrapped, frozen cranberry sauce should taste as fresh as the day it was made for up to two months. 

However, it is safe beyond two months, up to at least a year. Of course, it’s best to remember the texture and freshness will not be the same. 

The biggest worry when freezing cranberry sauce is that it will suffer from freezer burn. However, if you take the proper steps listed above, your sauce should be sufficiently protected and remain delicious.

How Long Can You Freeze Homemade Cranberry Sauce vs Store-Bought?

Like homemade cranberry sauce, you can also freeze store-bought canned cranberry sauce. 

Similar to homemade, the same three caveats apply: cool it down, wrap it well, and make sure to label it. 

Instead of storing your canned cranberry sauce in its original can, you should transfer it to an appropriate freezer-safe container. 

You should always place any food stored in the freezer in a container with an air-tight seal. This helps prevent freezer burn and unseemly odors.

How to Freeze Cranberry Sauce

For the first step, make sure your leftover cranberry sauce is sufficiently cooled down before being placed in the freezer.  Cooling the sauce is crucial because when food is placed in the freezer warm, it will collect excess moisture.  The moisture will then freeze and turn into ice, possibly causing the dreaded freezer burn.

By placing warm or hot food in your freezer, you run the risk of raising the temperature, which can adversely affect all the other frozen foods around it. One advantage is that cranberry sauce is more enjoyable after it has cooled, allowing the sauce to thicken.  However, if your cranberry sauce is warm or hot, give it a little while to cool down before freezing.

Next, make sure you wrap or package your cranberry sauce properly.  You have the option of placing the cranberry sauce in a freezer bag or even going one step further and vacuum sealing it.  Either option will work fine, as both prevent the formation of ice crystals and unseemly odors from invading and ruining the sauce.

Your last step will be to make sure you label the container.  Note the bag’s contents, along with the original date the cranberry sauce was made and frozen.  By making sure to label your container, you will know the contents and have an idea of if they are getting close to an “expiration.”

How to Thaw Frozen Cranberry Sauce

For the best results when thawing frozen cranberry sauce, you should remove it from the freezer the night before you intend to make use of it.  You can put it in the fridge, and it will thaw overnight.  It should thaw quite quickly if you separate the sauce into smaller portions before initially freezing it.

If you find you are in somewhat of a hurry or forgot to remove the cranberry sauce from the freezer the night before, you also have the option of defrosting it in the microwave. 

Once it has thawed, make sure to stir it well, and it should be as tasty as the day you made it!

How to Use Cranberry Sauce After Freezing

Frozen cranberry sauce, having defrosted, can be used in the same manner and the same dishes as fresh cranberry sauce.  The taste and the texture will remain the same, and you would never know you had frozen it.

Don’t be afraid to use it with your favorite Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes!

How to Tell if Cranberry Sauce Has Gone Bad

If canned cranberry sauce is stored correctly in a cool dark place, such as a cabinet or pantry, canned store-bought cranberry sauce can keep and remain tasty for up to a year after the manufacturer’s best by date stamp.

When determining if your can of cranberry sauce is still good, always trust in your senses.  Other than trusting your senses, undeniable tell-tell signs will indicate if your cranberry sauce has gone bad. 

Evidence of spoilage in store-bought cranberry sauce includes cans that are bulging, leaking, severely dented, or cans that have the appearance of having rusted.  If you find that the top of the cranberry can is rounded outward instead of flat, the chances are good that the cranberry sauce contained inside has gone bad.  

Is Cranberry Sauce Safe If Left Out Overnight?

We have all been there.  After a long, tiresome day of cooking and entertaining family and guests, we have all forgotten a few things only to remember them later. 

It hits us out of the blue- “Oh no, I left the cranberry sauce out on the counter!” You are then questioning yourself, asking if it is safe or not. I have always found that a good rule of thumb to always remember is – when in doubt, throw it out. 

If you accidentally leave the cranberry sauce out overnight, whether homemade or store-bought, err on the side of caution and throw it out.