I Never Worry About Leftover Cranberry Sauce, Thanks to This Freezer Trick

updated Nov 28, 2019
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I have this habit of making too much cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. I absolutely love the stuff. After the holiday, I’m left with more than can be reasonably eaten on turkey sandwiches. Last year I discovered a quick tip for preserving cranberry sauce in the freezer and it paid off in spades during December’s long baking season (and beyond).

Here’s how I freeze leftover cranberry sauce and why I don’t mind having a surplus come cookie season.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

How to Freeze Leftover Cranberry Sauce

After all your Thanksgiving festivities are done, pour the cooled sauce into a zip-top bag — reusable bags work well for this too — and before closing the bag, press out as much air as possible. Lay the bag flat, but be careful not to smoosh the sauce out the top. Seal the bag tightly.

Now, take a page from our vegetable cream cheese storage trick and use a skewer to “score” the sauce in the bag by gently pressing lines or a grid into it. Be careful not to puncture or tear the bag. Small squares are great if you want to break them off later for adding to oatmeal or for topping toast. I find dividing one gallon-size bag into four sections gives me about four cup-sized portions I can break off and use for baking. Now freeze your bag flat on a sheet pan overnight. After that you can store the flat pack upright in the freezer.

Some Ideas for Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Now that you’ve got frozen cranberry sauce in the freezer — and you prepped it for breaking into portions as needed — there is a lot you can do with it! You can add to breakfast bowls like oatmeal or yogurt, top ricotta toast, or add small portions of cranberry sauce to roast chicken dinners.

Mostly, I use my frozen cranberry sauce for holiday baking. It gets turned into cranberry bars, cranberry swirled Bundt cakes, and cranberry cinnamon rolls for overnight guests. It is delightful spooned into thumbprint cookies.

As for thawing, small squares will thaw in about 10 minutes at room temperature (or almost instantly in warm oatmeal). Larger portions will take closer to 30 minutes at room temperature, so make sure to move them still frozen to a bowl or measuring cup to thaw. Now you have every reason in the world to make extra cranberry sauce each year.