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How Long Is Cranberry Sauce Good For?

Cranberry sauce is a true holiday season staple. But whether you get your cranberry sauce from a can or make it yourself on the stove, many people will be wondering, how long does it last?

How Long Is Cranberry Sauce Good For?

A simple store-bought or homemade jam-style cranberry sauce with water, sugar, and cranberries is safe in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you are using pickled methods like a chutney cranberry sauce or adding alcohol into it, you can double the fridge lifespan to 4 weeks. 

Cranberry sauce on a spoon

If you want to enjoy your cranberry sauce all year, place it into air tight bags or containers and freeze indefinitely. That said, defrosted cranberry sauce can be more watery than when it was first made.

This is because the cell walls of fruit tend to burst during freezing as the water in them expands. This water is then free to flow out of the cell walls upon defrost.    

How Long Does Homemade Cranberry Sauce Last?

Homemade cranberry sauce is good for 2 weeks in the fridge. To maximize freshness, make sure to keep the container it is in airtight. 

How Long Does Canned Cranberry Sauce Last Once Opened?

Once opened, you have 14 days to enjoy canned cranberry sauce, regardless of whether it is homemade or store-bought. As soon as you open the can, air is introduced and bacteria begin growing. 

What if You Left Cranberry Sauce Out Overnight?

If you left your favorite cranberry sauce out overnight, don’t throw it away. You can add a little water or juice and re-pasteurize it on the stove by boiling it off for a couple of minutes. Just remember to let it chill fully before resealing. 

How to Tell if Cranberry Sauce is Bad or Rotten

If you see anything growing in the sauce or if the sauce smells of yeast, rot, or alcohol (in non-alcohol recipes) the cranberry sauce has gone bad. If it smells fresh and has no visible signs of microbial growth, you can taste a small amount.

Cranberry sauce on turkey with stuffing on the side

We do not recommend keeping any homemade jam or cranberry sauce for a maximum of 4 weeks without freezing.  

Tips for Storing Cranberry Sauce to Extend Its Lifespan

If you want to keep cranberry sauce longer than 14 days, here are some storing tips:

  • Never cross contaminate it: When the sauce is being used do not let other foods touch the serving dish. 
  • Do not let anyone use a utensil that has been in their mouth to get more cranberry sauce: Cross contamination will greatly increase chances of spoilage as it introduces additional microbes to the mix. It can be easy for someone to use their silverware and dive back into the cranberry sauce, but make sure to have a separate utensil for this dish!
  • Minimize air exposure and to keep it really cold: This is why freezing can save cranberry sauce indefinitely. 
  • Re-pasteurize the sauce: While this can only be done a couple times before you break down all the fruit too far to resemble cranberry sauce, it will extend the life by 1-2 weeks each time. 
Homemade cranberry sauce on a wooden counter

Related Questions

How Long Does Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce Last?

Ocean Spray Cranberry sauce can last for 10-14 days in the fridge. Just make sure the container is airtight and there is no cross contamination from other utensils. 

Does Unopened Cranberry Sauce Go Bad?

All canned food can eventually go bad. You have roughly 1 year after the date on the can to enjoy cranberry sauce. That said, always check for signs of bulging in your canned goods as this would be a sign of botulism growth. If you do have a bulging can, do not open it. Seal it in a bag and dispose of it. 

Can I Freeze Fresh Cranberry Sauce to Make it Last Longer?

You can absolutely freeze cranberry sauce. Once frozen, the sauce will last indefinitely. Depending on how your sauce was made it could defrost more watery.

This would be due to water expanding when frozen and breaking the cell wall structure of the cranberries, allowing water to leak out when defrosted. 

Conclusion

Cranberry sauce is a real holiday treat. If you are trying to stretch your favorite recipe out from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the best way to do that is by keeping your sauce in a cool, airtight container or freezing it.

If you are still looking for further ways to expand your sauces lifespan, consider adding more sugar, salt, or alcohol to your recipe as all will inhibit bacterial growth. 

Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. With inspirations like Alton Brown and Gordon Ramsey, Nathaniel focuses on simple processes to make amazing food.