Cranberry jelly is a staple on many Thanksgiving dinner tables. Do you need to make one at the last minute? Let me introduce you to this 3-ingredient homemade cranberry jelly made of DRIED CRANBERRIES. It is the quickest and easiest cranberry jelly to make.
The whole making a homemade cranberry jelly idea started when we tried to come up with a festive, spectacular appetizer for Christmas. My husband made a delicious Pistachio Nut Cheese and what goes perfect with it? Cranberries!!! So here you go! We do love homemade fruit sauces like this Strawberry Puree, or this Mixed Berries Sauce, but this is the first jelly recipe on the blog.
Ingredients of the quickest cranberry jelly
If you would like to make cranberry jelly at home, you need only 3 ingredients:
- cranberries (fresh, frozen or dried)
- sweetener of your choice (cane sugar, coconut sugar or maple syrup)
- thickener (agar agar powder)
To make it the quickest…
…you need to use
- DRIED cranberries, and
- AGAR AGAR powder.
If you use dried cranberries your cooking time is reduced to 5 minutes. And agar agar powder is the fastest thickener I have ever used. It sets any liquid WITHIN MINUTES!!! Seriously… It is so fast. If you don’t prepare your mold in advance, you may not have a chance to look for it once you get the mixture off the stove.
What do you need to make cranberry jelly?
You will need a
- saucepan -> whatever thickener you use, you need heat to activate it
- hand blender with a tall and thin container -> the easiest and quickest way to blend it until smooth
- fine-mesh strainer or food mill -> if you don’t strain it, you will end up with cranberry jam and not jelly and
and you need a mold to get your cranberry jelly in shape. But what kind of mold?
The cranberry jelly was often eaten out of a tin can or plunked down so it would look like a reddish jiggly tin can with ridges. If you want to re-create it, you don’t need a fancy mold to do that. Take a regular tin can (maybe that had canned fruit in it and not spicy beans) and pour the hot cranberry sauce in it. When it is set, take a butter knife and go around the edges gently. Turn it upside down and slide it to a plate. Happy Thanksgiving!
Have you seen our Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes post? It has a FREE downloadable printable e-book with shopping list for a complete Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner Menu in it.
A little more festive would be to use a silicone bundt mold. You can see it in action in our Pistachio Nut Cheese recipe. Or get creative and use a gingerbread house mold or a snow flake mold to make it really unique and spectacular.
JELLY GUMMIES MOLD
I know that cranberry jelly is usually made for Thanksgiving. However, I like making cranberry jelly for my daugther as a Christmas treat as well. For that I use my heart-shaped jelly mold. It turns this cranberry jelly into fruit gummies. My daugther loves them. I also use this mold to make ice cubes as they look adorable in any drinks. You can see them in our Vegan Baileys recipe.
How to make cranberry jelly quickly?
If you buy unsweetened, no preservatives, no oil dried cranberries (like this one here), then you don’t need to prep it at all. If you have the usual sweetened, oil-coated craisins, then I recommend soaking them in hot water for 5 minutes to wash away a bit of its sugary, oily coating.
Take a saucepan and add soaked/dried cranberries, water and cane sugar (photo #1). Bring to boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes until the cranberries are soft (photo #2).
Take a tall and thin container (I got mine together with the immersion hand blender) and pour the cooked cranberry sauce in it (photo #3). Blend it as smooth as you can (photo #4).
Now, get a fine-mesh sieve and strain it to separate the pulp from the juicy cranberry sauce (photo #5). Just strain it directly on top of the saucepan you used before. Now, you have your strained sauce back in the saucepan (photo #6). Add agar agar powder (photo #7). Bring to boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes to activate the agar agar. When ready, pour the cranberry sauce in a silicone mold of your choice (photo #8). You can see in a couple of minutes already that agar agar is super fast to make you cranberry jelly.
How to use agar agar?
It is the vegan alternative for gelatine, which also needs heat to activate it. This means that whatever you would like to set, you should heat it at least on medium / high heat for 5-6 minutes. Unlike using starch, where you can see your mixture thickening immediately, using agar agar you will not see any change in texture. However, agar agar sets quite quickly(!!!) when the mixture starts cooling down. So prepare your mold in advance as you will not have time to search for it later on!
Do I need to strain it?
YES, if you want to make cranberry jelly. If you don’t strain it, then the agar agar will not be able to thicken the sauce with the pulp in it. You will get a delicious cranberry jam for sure, but not solid enough to be a jelly. No need to worry if you forgot to strain it, you can make yummy PBJ sandwiches using this cranberry jam. 🙂
This Cranberry Jelly recipe is dairy-free and egg-free. It is suitable for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo and WFPB (whole foods plant-based) diets.
More recipes with fruits
You can browse through our Vegan and Gluten-free Dessert Recipes or check out
- Tapioca Pudding with Strawberry Puree
- Chocolate Peach Galette
- Apple Crisp Pie
- Oil-free Fried Apple Rings
- Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
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The Quickest Cranberry Jelly
- Soak dried cranberries in hot water to wash away some of the oil + sugar that store-bought cranberries are coated with. (You can skip this step, if you buy organic unsweetened craisins like this one here)
- Take a saucepan and add soaked craisins, water, and cane sugar.
- Bring to boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes until the dried cranberries are soft.
- Use an immersion hand blender and blend it until smooth.
- Take a food mill or a fine mesh sieve and strain it to separate the pulp from the juicy cranberry sauce.
- Transfer the strained cranberry sauce back to the saucepan and add agar agar powder. You can use the pulp to add to your oatmeal for example.
- Bring to boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes to activate the agar agar. After that you can pour your cranberry sauce into a silicone mold. Watch out, as it sets pretty quickly. Enjoy!