Store-Bought Cranberry Sauce Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

When the weather turns chilly and the days grow short, all the flavors start to change. Apples and squash are suddenly in every produce department and farmers market across the country, and there are so many pumpkin-spiced options, one could get dizzy trying to find their favorite food or drink. But there's another classic option that's a vital addition to Thanksgiving tables across the nation. An accompaniment that's very tart but with the right amount of sugar and citrus that is bound to elevate your Turkey Day meal. Of course, we're talking about cranberry sauce. 

Now, there are two ways you could go: use a cranberry sauce recipe and get cooking or buy a pre-made sauce from the store. While the homemade approach will likely yield tastier results, that's going to require some work. If you have a full Thanksgiving meal to attend to, the last thing you want is one more thing to cook. However, going store-bought simply requires plopping the contents into a saucepan or consuming straight from the packaging.  

Whether you like your cranberries whole or jellied, sliced, or mashed, we've done the work and tasted several different brands so you can make the best choice to add to your table.

8. 365 Whole Foods Market

According to the Whole Foods website, its 365 brand goes far beyond your basic products at other shopping centers to produce an enjoyable, top notch option for its customers. Well, after tasting their cranberry sauces, clearly someone fell asleep at the wheel on this one. It may go the extra mile to find the right ingredients, but these whole berry and jellied cranberries were way too sweet to stomach. We could barely get through a spoonful of the red stuff before we had to spit it out and dump the rest of the can down the sink. 

The whole berry can, in particular, was impossible to enjoy. It tasted like watery, fruit-flavored sugar. While it was bright red, there was absolutely no cranberry flavor at all even though there were whole berries throughout the entire sauce. Made with just cranberries, lemon juice, and sugar, clearly, the measurements were off. Even the skins and berries, which are there to make it feel more like homemade sauce, were super sweet. The jellied can was slightly better in that there was a bit more cranberry flavor, but overall, we feel you should pass on this brand completely.

7. Kroger

If you're looking for a budget cranberry sauce, Kroger has you covered. The supermarket brand offers two options to choose from at $1.99 a can: whole cranberry sauce and a jellied version. While we're starting to get closer to a cranberry scent, it's still not our favorite premade version. If it were all about smell, Kroger would be at the top of our list. Unfortunately, we're not smelling the sauce, we're eating it and like the previous options on this list, Kroger also lands on the sweet side. 

But the sweet flavor isn't all that surprising considering these canned cranberries have both corn and high fructose corn syrups in them. Even with all that extra syrup, we were surprised that there was a decent amount of flavor, but it didn't quite taste like real cranberries. The overall flavor was very artificial and has a weird metallic aftertaste. While the whole berry was slightly better than the jellied, both were underwhelming and even though the cans are at a low price point, they're not worth the money.  

6. Trader Joe's

We love Trader Joe's, particularly its seasonal offerings, and so we were really looking forward to tasting the chain's takes on cranberry sauce. Similar to other brands on this list, Trader Joe's offers two options: a shelf-stable jellied sauce and a fresh cranberry orange relish. We started with the jellied jar and it reminded us of, well, jelly. Considering the sauce is made with pectin, the jelly comparison makes sense, and it might make a great spread if you want to change out the classic grape jelly for something a little more seasonal on your peanut butter sandwich, but you'll need to have a sweet tooth.

This sauce tastes like Trader Joe's got its measurements off. There's just too much sugar. The website does suggest mixing the sauce into yogurt or whisking it into a vinaigrette for a seasonal salad or snack, and we think that's the way to go because then the flavors will be more balanced.

A far better choice is the cranberry relish, which is among the best Thanksgiving items at Trader Joe's. Full of nice big chunks of cranberry and a distinct orange flavor, the relish would definitely be a great addition to any turkey dinner, sandwich, or even a holiday charcuterie board.

5. Stonewall Kitchen

We really, really wanted these sauces and relishes from Stonewall Kitchen to be our favorite. From the fancy jar, to the handwritten label, to the promise of fall spices, we couldn't wait to taste this sauce. And while Stonewall definitely fulfilled its promise of holiday spices, it overplayed its hand. While all of the brand's cranberry options are made with fresh cranberries, sugar, and orange zest or juice, the spices changed depending on the jar. Some include ginger puree and ground anise, while others had horseradish. 

Overall the sauces do have a nice sweet flavor and the texture was quite pleasant, but some of the seasonings end up overpowering the cranberry, so that after a bite or two, all we got was spice. While these sauces might pair well with your savory turkey, we think unless you mix it up with everything else on your plate (or you absolutely love spicy foods), you'll end up with a lot left over. 

Available at most grocery stores as well as online, Stonewall tends to be slightly more expensive than some of the other premade cranberries on this list, averaging about $7.50 each. But if you like pretty jars and want a spicy cranberry sauce, Stonewall is the brand for you. 

4. Ocean Spray

Now we get to the brand that's become synonymous with cranberries. Ocean Spray has been around since 1930 when three cranberry growers decided to get together and form a co-op to create a delicious product using the fruit they adored. And so they have. We've been enjoying Ocean Spray's line of cranberry juices since pre-school and couldn't wait to try its sauces. If you want to add a little nostalgia to your table without giving up on taste, then Ocean Spray is the can to grab on your next shopping trip. 

Available in both whole and jellied, this cranberry sauce was a little on the watery side, but still full of that tart cranberry flavor Ocean Spray has been providing for almost a century.  Although it does use both corn and high fructose corn syrup in its sauces, the cranberries weren't overly sweet like we observed in other brands. Ocean Spray doesn't muddy its sauce with extra citrus juices or spices, so it's no surprise that all you get is tons of tart cranberry flavor.

3. Woodstock Farms

Specializing in organic products that are non-GMO, Woodstock Farms likes using simple ingredients that come from sources you can trust. While these cranberries didn't make the top of our list, we wouldn't have a problem serving them at our Thanksgiving table. Like a few other brands on this list, Woodstock also makes both jellied and whole cranberry sauce. The only ingredients listed on the label are organic cranberries, organic sugar, organic lemon juice concentrate, and filtered water though we picked up on strong notes of apples which wasn't a bad thing.  

These cans had plenty of cranberry flavor and there was a nice balance of sweet and tart thanks to the lemon juice. In the case of both the jellied and whole sauce, the cranberries slid out pretty easily once we ran a knife around the edge. Another plus: these cans are available through Amazon and If you're looking for something organic this might be the can for you.

2. Simple Truth Organic

Simple Truth Organic is Kroger's Organic brand. Easy to spot on Kroger and Ralphs (if you happen to be in Southern California) shelves thanks to those big green dots that promise organic foods of quality, it's not a bad choice when you want an organic brand that tastes good and isn't overpriced. 

Claiming that its products are free from artificial flavors, GMOs, and unpronounceable ingredients, one thing Simple Truth isn't free of is flavor. Much better than the standard Kroger brand offerings, the Simple Truth whole cranberry sauce is full of genuine fruit flavor and just the right amount of sugar and citrus; these sauces make us actually want to add them to our plates and leftover turkey sandwiches. 

From the minute you crack open the can, it just smells like the real thing. That pleasant aroma combined with the non-grainy texture and the fact that the sauce slides out of the can quite easily, earns Simple Truth a high spot on our list.

1. Gefen

One of the most recognizable kosher brands out there, Gefen is known for its commitment to quality, and that proved to be true with its cranberry sauces.  In particular, the whole berry version is as close to homemade as you're going to get out of a can. Once we dipped our spoon in, we couldn't stop eating it. 

Made with just cranberries, sugar, and water, it's full of that delightful tart cranberry flavor. But the people over at Gefen clearly understand measurements because they didn't just throw a ton of sugar in the mixture to make it overly saccharine. Instead, there's just enough sweetness to make the sauce palatable without losing any of that scrumptious, tart, fruity flavor we all look for in a classic cranberry sauce. 

Also available in jellied, this sauce is slightly pricier than a couple of the other brands on this list, averaging at just over $4 a can, but it's worth it. If you can find a can (and you don't want to make your own) you should definitely add it to your holiday table this year.