Jellied Cranberry Sauce: Serving Up A Side Dish of Nostalgia

Love it or hate it, there's no denying that jellied cranberry sauce provides a side dish of nostalgia to your Thanksgiving table. These bits of trivia might help you appreciate the wiggly "log."

When it comes to side dishes, most can agree that cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving is a must. And for many of us growing up, this meant simply opening up a tin can and emptying the contents onto a dish or plate, which always made a “whoosh-plop” sound to let us know it arrived. Then it was placed on the table with the rest of the meal.

There, the wiggly, jiggly “log,” with its signature ridges, could be fully appreciated. To serve, it was sliced with a dull butter knife and slid onto our plates where it politely stayed, never daring to mingle with the potatoes, gravy, or—heaven forbid—the turkey.

But ask anyone about jellied cranberry sauce and they’ll happily share their (strong) opinions about it. Some can’t even look at it; others say the setting is incomplete without it. In fact, Americans consume over 5 million gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season.

8 Fun Facts About Canned Jellied Cranberry Sauce

The wiggly, jiggly log.
  1. Massachusetts-based Ocean Spray, the largest producer of cranberry products in the U.S., produces about 79 million cans of jellied cranberry sauce each year, 85 percent of which are sold during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
  2. Jellied cranberry sauce from a can (the log) is most preferred by consumers totaling 75% of overall cranberry sauce sales.
  3.  It takes about 200 cranberries to make one can of cranberry sauce.
  4. Canned cranberry sauce got its start in 1912 when cranberry growers Marcus L. Urann and Elizabeth Lee started working together to create a jellied sauce, which was concocted by boiling the bruised berries from the bog (say that 3 times fast).
  5. Because cranberries were only available for a short window in the fall, canning them made it available year-round.
  6. Cranberry sauce in a can became a Thanksgiving staple across the country by 1941.
  7. Why does it wiggle? Because cranberries have a high pectin content, which causes the fruit to “gel.” Pectin is a key ingredient added when making jellies or jams.
  8. John Lennon confirmed in a 1980 interview that he repeated the words cranberry sauce at the end of the song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Take a listen to what he said about it!

Whether you’re a fan or foe, we can all agree that jellied cranberry sauce from a can is here to stay, and has earned its rightful place on our tables, and in our hearts, even if it is only once or twice a year.

Prefer homemade? We’ve got an easy cranberry sauce recipe here.

See how jellied cranberry sauce is made

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I use on top of hot oatmeal, then mix. On my yogurt and last and the best, the base for a cranberry margarita…DEE-LISH!!!! ???

Ruth Foss

No one is talking about whole cranberry sauce. I buy that too yr. round. I like the chunky texture and the whole cranberries. I also put it on chicken or turkey sandwiches. And I drink cranberry juice. It’s suppose to be good for you.

Susan Higgins

Hi Ruth, it’s so easy to make. We have a great recipe here.


My brother will only eat canned cranberry sauce. Finally convinced him to try the homemade that I make every year…….he hated it!!!! ONLY wants the canned stuff!!!

DrucellA J Durall

My family luvs the jiggle wiggle can version keep it on hand all yr round my granddaughter luvs it with her dressing

S R Stieb

I remember when we couldn’t buy cranberries due to a cancer scare. Not sure what the year was. Thank God it wasn’t true!


I remember that year! I was a kid and was so upset that there was NO cranberry sauce forThanksgiving!!


Mix a bit into a serving of your favorite yogurt. Add whatever else tickles your fancy.

Carl Long

In the fall we (my wife and I) made Homemade Sauce. Wonderful on a hot buttered cat-head biscuit for breakfast.

Shery Sullivan

Susan Olynick. Dumb question but do you peel those oranges before processing?

Ruthie Mason

No never! Just scrub ‘’em up good!


A can of cranberry sauce on top of a pork roast in the slow cooker makes a tasty dinner any time of year!

Debbie Carter

Poor man’s ( pp+j sandwich). Mix cranberry sauce & water, about a 1/8 cup, then add a little at a time, as it needs it for the sugar to dissolve. ( 1-2 tablespoon of sugar or less) Stir together. Makes jelly. Stays in refrigerator quit a long time. Why buy jelly? It’s cheaper. Unless you treat yourself to your favorite kind. For diabetes, add your own kind of sugar!

Rhonda West

Thanks for the history lesson; I’ve always wondered about it! My sis makes the best Cranberry mood around the holidays. I’m obscessed; delicious. My oldest son expects the canned version every Thanksgiving. He doesn’t like it when it’s not on the table to compliment his turkey & dressing. He will accept no substitutes.

Kellyanne Harwood

I LOVE jellied cranberry sauce with my holiday meals, very interesting read…Thanks Farmers Almanac for the education on this awesome fruit.❤

Karen Lancaster

Add cranberry sauce to your bar b que sauce. Great on grilled chicken or pork.


Just get rid of the high fructose gmo corn syrup and we’ll buy cans of it again!!!

Jill measley

Not only is cranberry sauce required in my home for any time of year,I have taken up sonic limeaide with cranberry. How refreshing. Next year I want to go watch the harversting. I live in nj and think I should see it in person .

DeAnne Jones

I would appreciate a low or sugar free option. I can’t eat as much as I would like to because of the sugar/carbs. Please please if you decide to replace sugar use stevia sweetener as a substitute NOT sucralose . It’s much healthier!!


I love it! It’s not the Holidays without it.
During the rest of the year I use the the chunky one in chicken and pork recipes.
If I’m honest… I’m not a fan of homemade. Especially recipes with orange in it. I take a polite portion so as not to offend the hosts; but never have I enjoyed it.

Cynthia Beam

My family loves it year-round – but, it wouldn’t be the holidays without it!


I love canned cranberry sauce year ’round! There is nothing quite like that sweet/tart deliciousness! Good with a sandwich-anything really.


We put whipping cream on whole berry, homemade sauce, for an interesting sweet “dessert.”

Chuck Pins

My daughter for Thanksgiving slices the Cranberry sauce into 1/4 inch slices, puts a layer of cream cheese on a slice and then places another slice on top. Makes up a platter of these on the serving line. Look forward to it every year.


We aren’t fond of the canned version. We DO make our own with either fresh or frozen cranberries, orange, some sugar, etc. and, if we want it to have some “kick” some finely chopped jalapeno pepper. We are “chili heads” and like a lot of food that has chiles in it.

Anita J Burrous

Grind one bag of cranberries with a whole orange in a grinder or food chopper – into fine pieces. Add two cups of sugar (can skimp if you like it more tart). Chop3 or 4 stalks of celery (for crunch) and add to the mixture, also chopped walnuts or pecans. Dissolve one pkg of cherry jello w/one cup boiling water. Mix all together and refrigerate…stir occasionally. It looks pretty in a ring mold. When cranberries are in season, I often mix the berries, orange and sugar – let the sugar dissolve, and freeze that mixture. Later in the year I thaw it, add celery and nuts and jello and enjoy! Not every one in our family likes this, but those who do ‘relish’ it

Marcia Rizzo

I wish there was a real low carb/low sugar, i.e., no sugar alcohols version of cranberry sauce so I could eat more of it more often.


Marcia, there is a version that is low carb you can try! I generally use this recipe for Thanksgiving every year:

Alannah Mozisek

Cranberry sauce, cheddar cheese and Ritz crackers have been a year round snack for me for over 60 years!!!!!


Scrumptious! I also like to use whipped cream cheese and pieces of candied jalapeños.

Gary D. Murphy

What happened to your Cranberry/Raspberry sauce? It was my favorite and I have not been able to find it for several years. If I can still buy it, tell me where! Please.


Ive never had any desire to buy, serve or eat canned cranberries. I make my Mom’s relish every year using a bag of cranberries, chopped add one finely chopped apple and finely diced orange. Mix in sugar to taste, I like mine tart. Great with turkey❣️


I’ve not tried it with oranges but it’s amazing with pineapple. My grandmother loves it with pineapple and coconut never could bring myself to try it. I did make her a promise to try new things, so I think I’m gonna step outside my comfort zone and try oranges.


I enjoy jellied cranberry sauce as a side dish for many meals and not only a must for the holidays I enjoy a wrap consisting of warming a flour tortilla apply a thin layer of mayo down the center followed with thin slices of turkey, a layer of jellied cranberry sauce and lettuce.

Dorothy Miller

I eat cranberry sauce every time I have chicken or turkey, could be a full meal or even a chicken or turkey sandwich I have to have my cranberry sauce with it. Yummy.


Cranberry sauce is a must at my Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner everyone loves it. We have to get three or four cans to feed my crew, then that’s barely enough. My mother in law made a cranberry cake for my youngest and cut letters out of the sauce and placed on top it was delicious. She can make anything out of anything and make it great.

Eileen heaster

All the side dishes that go with turkey and ham are all good on thanksgiving day,and desserts are too.

Teresa Keightley

My Thanksgiving meal is nothing without cranberry sauce. My son, and youngest grand daughter are the only two that will eat it on that day with me.


WOW! I make a relish with 2 bags cranberries, 2 seedless and thin skin oranges, 10 oz. crushed pineapple, drained, all processed to a good consistency. Add 2-4 cups sugar, dash kosher salt, lemon zest. Combine until sugar has dissolved. Add chopped walnuts or pecans. So good not only on Thanksgiving, but good with cottage cheese.
I buy bags of Cranberries and freeze for the relish all year. YUMMY!

Susan Olynick

I can take it or leave it during the dinner, but jellied cranberry sauce is a “must have” on the mountain of turkey sandwiches I devour after the meal!

Bob Wolfe

Make my own from wild berries, great on sandwiches too.


Forget the turkey !! Give me cranberry sauce!

henriette raymond

We juste love ♥ cranberries with turkey and on porc chops , beef ♥

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