This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Make the most of fresh cranberry season with a small batch of easy cranberry jam. You only need 3 ingredients and about 15 minutes to make this tart spread!
By now you know that I love whipping up small batches of jams and preserves each season.
One of my favorites is sweet and tart raspberry jam, so when all the fresh cranberries hit the stores just before Thanksgiving, I know it’s time to throw together a batch of cranberry jam.
Fresh cranberries have a punchy, tart flavor that is usually tempered by sweet or savory additions. This simple jam focuses on the flavor of cranberries, without being too overwhelmingly tart.
If you’ve ever made cranberry sauce from scratch before, you can definitely make this homemade cranberry jam!
Ingredients for cranberry jam
Cranberries – Fresh cranberries come in bags that are 10 or 12 ounces. You can use either size. (I use 12 ounce bags.)
Granulated sugar – Cranberries are very tart, so we need some sugar to tame that tartness.
Lemon juice – A bit of lemon juice brings it all together and adds brightness to the jam.
For equipment, you’ll need:
- Potato masher
- Glass pint jar, or 2 8-ounce jars, or other reusable container with a lid.
How to make this recipe
Small batch jam recipes like this are so easy!
First, make sure your jar is handy so you can pour the jam into it immediately after cooking. I set mine on a tea towel next to the stove.
Place your saucepan on the stove and add the cranberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
Set to medium-high heat, or medium if your stove is very efficient. I now have an induction stove, and medium heat is the perfect setting for this jam.
Stir the ingredients together, and then stir frequently as the sugar melts to prevent sticking. You might get some sugar granules stuck to the sides of the pan, but don’t worry too much about that as long as most of it is with the fruit.
As the jam cooks, the cranberries will start to pop and split open, releasing juices.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low.
Mash the cranberries further with a potato masher, or very carefully blend with an immersion blender. You can make the jam completely smooth; I prefer to leave some bits of fruit.
After the jam has cooked for about 10 minutes, it should be juicy, sticky, and somewhat thickened.
The jam will continue to thicken as it cools, so make sure you do not overcook it! If it is very thick, you can stir in a little bit of water to loosen the jam.
Pour the jam into your jar(s). If you plan to process in a water bath, run a chopstick along the inside of the jar to remove any trapped air bubbles.
Add the lid and let cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator, or process in a canner.
Canning cranberry jam
If you are doubling or tripling this recipe, you probably want to can it!
Before you make the jam, get your water bath ready by filling it with water and bringing to a boil, and set aside jars, rings, and lids.
Once the jam is done, fill the jars and leave 1/4-inch of space at the top. Remove any air bubbles using a chopstick, then place the lids, and screw on rings fingertip tight.
Use a jar lifter to carefully lower the jars into the boiling water bath. Place the lid on the canner, bring back to a boil, and process for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let rest for 5 minutes, then remove from the water and let sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
Check for seals, label, and store in the pantry for up to 18 months.
Does cranberry jam need pectin?
You do not need to add powdered pectin to this jam. Cranberries are naturally high in pectin, so jams and jellies made with it will set on their own!
What’s the difference between cranberry jam and cranberry sauce?
Honestly, there isn’t much of a difference between the two! Homemade cranberry sauce is often a little looser than jam, and frequently includes other flavorings, such as orange juice, cinnamon, and cloves.
What else can I add to cranberry jam? Can I use other sugars?
If you like, you can swap the granulated sugar for brown sugar, for a molasses-enhanced flavor.
I have not tried this recipe with sugar alternatives like honey, stevia, or other sweeteners. Keep in mind that it may not set the same if you use any of these substitutions.
For flavor additions, try adding a little bit of ground cinnamon or freshly grated ginger for a kick. Sometimes I add just a splash of bourbon to cranberry jam to deepen the flavor.
Lemon zest or orange zest are also good additions.
How do you store cranberry jam?
Cranberry jam should be stored in the refrigerator, unless you process it in a water bath canner.
In the refrigerator, it will keep for 1 month or so. To make it last longer, make sure to spoon it out using a clean utensil, and don’t double dip knives or spoons into the jar, which can introduce bacteria.
Water bath canned jars can be stored in the pantry for up to 18 months.
How to use cranberry jam
Cranberry jam can be enjoyed anywhere you’d use other jams. Try it on your morning toast or bagel, as a filling for thumbprint cookies, or for my pumpkin bundt cake with cranberry swirl.
Mix a spoonful into your oatmeal, or try it with prosecco for a jammy cocktail.
It’s also delicious as part of a cheese board, added to a sandwich, or on top of meats like turkey tenderloin or ham.
More cranberry recipes to love
If you have leftover cranberries, why not give these recipes a try?
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star review below!
It means so much when you enjoy my recipes, so let me know how it goes and leave a comment if you have any questions.
- 10 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Set 1 16-ounce mason jar or 2 8-ounce jars on a clean kitchen towel next to the stove, along with jar lids and a ladle.
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cranberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir well and bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent sticking as the sugar melts and cranberries pop.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring, for 8-10 minutes, until thickened and jammy. Do not overcook as the jam will continue to set as it cools.
- Pour the jam into your jar(s), leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Use a wet towel to wipe the outside of the jar, then loosely place lid. Let cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator.
- If processing in a water bath canner, prepare the canner by filling with water and heating to boiling before cooking the jam. Let the water simmer at a low boil while preparing the jam. Set aside two-piece jar lids.
- Cook jam and fill jars as above, then place the lids and screw on bands just to fingertip tight. Carefully lower into water bath, place lid on the canning pot, and boil for 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat, and let rest 5 minutes. Remove lid, and carefully remove jars, placing on a kitchen towel. Let rest undisturbed for 24 hours, then check for seal, label, and store in a cool, dry place.
- Makes about 2 cups/16 ounces.
- If your cranberries come in 12-ounce bags, you can use the whole bag! It will make a little extra jam. If desired, add 2 tablespoons more sugar with the additional fruit.
Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate based on online calculators. Any nutritional information found on Stetted should be used as a general guideline only.
I focus on fresh ingredients and easy methods, with spins that keep meals interesting. Dinnertime shouldn’t be stressful or complicated, and I’m here to help you enjoy the time spent in the kitchen. Read more…