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+ servings

Congealed Cranberry Sauce

Candied ginger brings sweet heat to Thanksgiving-ready cranberry sauce.
A lot of folks think that cranberry sauce is basically a Jell-O mold. Nay! There is no gelatin at all. The gelling is achieved via the berry’s natural pectins. That’s right, it’s a congealed salad that freakin’ makes itself!
I prefer to keep mine on the simple side, but feel free to spice things up with nutmeg, cloves, or ginger. If something tropical suits, you could stir in some finely minced chiles or some chopped vanilla bean. You can also use 100% pomegranate juice if you can’t find cranberry. Whatever you do, don’t tinker around in the engine room — the amount of fruit, water, acid, honey, and time must remain constant.
Both U.S. standard and metric measurements are listed, but for consistent results, go metric.
This recipe first appeared in Season 12 of Good Eats.
Alton Brown's congealed cranberry sauce on a white plate garnished with green lettuce leaves.
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 7 hours 5 minutes
Yield: 8 servings


  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup light agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2  fluid ounces 100% cranberry juice, not cocktail
  • 2  fluid ounces freshly squeezed orange juice, from 1 large orange
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized or candied ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1 pound whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • Whipped cream, for serving, optional

Specialized Hardware

  • Digital kitchen scale
  • Digital instant-read thermometer
  • 3 1/2-cup silicone mold


  • Toast the pecans in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once they darken a bit and smell nutty, remove to a cutting board. Chop roughly once cool.
  • In the same saucepan, combine the light agave syrup, honey, cranberry juice, orange juice, candied ginger, and five-spice powder. Bring this mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the cranberries to the saucepan, boost the heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring often, until the cranberries begin to burst open and the mixture thickens.
  • After 15 minutes (no more or the pectin will start to break down), remove the cranberry mixture from the heat and stir in the pecans. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Spoon the mixture into a 3 1/2-cup silicone mold (or empty can)Because I get nostalgic, I usually set mine in an actual can., cover with plastic wrap, and cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Place on a sheet pan before refrigerating for at least 6 hours — overnight would be better.
  • Turn out mold and serve as a side or top with whipped cream and serve as dessert.