Taste Test: Cranberry Sauce

A taste test of store-bought cranberry sauces.
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It’s the prime time of year to crack open cans (and jars) of cranberry sauce for your holiday meals and leftovers! We dove into the most-popular brands of this seasonal treat to see how they stacked up.

The Criteria

Cranberry sauces were rated on a 5-point scale (5 being the highest). Ratings were based on flavor, consistency, ingredients, price and nutrition (specifically calories and sugar).

Rating: 2.5

Price: $2.50 per 14-ounce can (18 cents per ounce)

Per serving (1/4 cup): Calories 110; Sugars 24 g

Our Take: This sauce was firm and sweet, and had better texture and more acidity than the other jellied version we tried. In addition to cranberries and water, the ingredient list consists of two corn-based sweeteners (high-fructose corn syrup and corn syrup). You definitely need some sugar to mellow out the tartness of cranberries, but most other brands we tried have only one added sweetener.

Rating: 3
Price: $2.50 per 14ounce can (18 cents per ounce)
Per serving (1/4 cup): Calories 110; Sugars 22 g

Our Take: Lots of nostalgia in this can! We loved the big, juicy cranberries and tart flavor. It contains the same sweeteners as the jellied Ocean Spray version but did have slightly less sugar per serving.

Rating: 3
Price: $2 per 14-ounce can (14 cents per ounce)
Per serving (1/4 cup): Calories 100; Sugars 17 g

Our Take: Despite being lowest in sugar, this variety was plenty sweet and is made with cranberries, sugar, water and lemon juice concentrate. It did have a somewhat gritty texture that was a bit of a turnoff. We did appreciate the great value, especially for organic ingredients.

Rating: 4
Price: $7 per 12-ounce jar) (58 cents per ounce)
Per serving (1/4 cup): Calories 100; Sugars 23 g

Our Take: This sauce has a clean ingredient list (cranberries, sugar, water and oranges) and a pleasant cran-citrusy flavor that’s less sweet and acidic than the others. It was well-blended and contains lots of seeds, which some palates may not enjoy. Despite its many attributes, this brand definitely lost some points for the high price tag, coming in at more than four times the price of the others.

Rating: 5
Price: $1.99 per 12 oz jar ($0.17 per oz)
Nutrition Info (¼ cup serving): calories: 100; sugars: 20 grams

Our Take: There’s plenty to love about this seasonal item (it’s in stores only during the holidays). Made with cranberries, sugar, water and pectin (a fruit-based jelling agent), it’s sweet and tart, and has great texture. Overall, this was the most-user-friendly option for spreading on sandwiches, serving alongside roasted turkey and more.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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