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How to Freeze Cranberries + Frozen Cranberry Recipes

Freezing cranberries is a great way to take advantage of winter’s offerings year-round! This post will show you how to freeze cranberries, answer questions about freezing and thawing cranberries, and shares some of my favorite recipes to use frozen cranberries.

decorative bowl of fresh cranberries

Why You Should Freeze Cranberries 

I look forward to cranberry season every year! Cranberries are one of my favorite things to bake with during the winter months. I love the bright colors and the tart flavor!

Although cranberries last longer that summer berries do, they spoil quicker than heartier fruits like apples. Freezing cranberries is a great way to savor the flavor of winter for many months.

Here are a few reasons to start freezing fresh cranberries: 

  • Oops! I purchased too many cranberries and won’t use them all before they spoil. Freezing cranberries will extend allow you to lengthen their shelf life and prevent food waste. 
  • Don’t you love it when cranberries go on sale and you can stock up on them? Freezing cranberries is the best way to take advantage of low prices and bulk shopping.
  • Produce is usually more expensive during the off season (and sometimes it isn’t even available). Storing frozen fresh cranberries in your freezer for use during the off season is a great way to save money.

Let’s get going with all things Cranberries so you can stash some of them away for all of your holiday baking!

When is Cranberry Season? 

Cranberries are only harvested once a year mid September through November. You can typically find them fresh in your grocery store from September through January. Unlike a lot of other produce, you can’t typically find fresh cranberries out of season.

Want to check out more info about seasonal fruits and veggies?

You’ll find information about seasonal produce and tons of recipes to go along with each season!

rinsing cranberries in a strainer

How to Freeze Cranberries 

Can you freeze cranberries? For sure!

The thing I really love about freezing fresh cranberries is that it is super simple and very little prep work is needed. Unlike certain vegetables, you don’t need to blanch cranberries before freezing them.

I’ve been known to throw a bag of fresh cranberries straight into the freezer without doing any prep work, it’s really best to rinse the cranberries thoroughly first and then pat them dry before freezing them! 

frozen cranberries in a white bowl

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to freeze fresh cranberries: 

  1. Throw away any cranberries that are soft or discolored. Lighter colored cranberries are underripe. They aren’t harmful, but they can be even more tart. 
  2. Rinse the remaining cranberries in a colander under cold tap water. 
  3. Spread a large, clean, dry towel on the counter and place the cranberries on top to dry. You can let them air dry or you can pat them dry with another towel, but they need to be completely dry before freezing, otherwise they can stick together and develop freezer burn more quickly.
  4. Spread the cranberries on a parchment paper-lined baking tray (tip: How to Line Pans with Parchment Paper). Make sure none of the cranberries are overlapping. 
  5. Place the baking sheet with the cranberries on it in the freezer. Keep the baking sheet as level as possible to prevent movement. 
  6. Freeze the cranberries just until solid, about 1 hour. 
  7. Transfer the frozen cranberries to a freezer safe container, a freezer zip top bag, or use a vacuum sealer and corresponding bag.
  8. Don’t forget to label and date the bag so you know when you froze the cranberries.  

Tip: Don’t use ordinary sandwich zip top bags. You need a bag that is intended for freezer storage so the cranberries don’t develop freezer burn.

The above is simply a quick summary of the instructions. Check out the free printable card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

frozen cranberries in a bag in the freezer

How Long Do Frozen Cranberries Last? 

If stored correctly, frozen cranberries are good for 12 to 18 months stored in the freezer. Fresh cranberries typically last a week, or less, in the refrigerator. By freezing, you are significantly extending their self life!  

How to Thaw Frozen Cranberries (3 Ways!)

There are a few different ways to thaw frozen cranberries. Choose whichever thawing method is best for you depending on how much time you have. 

Thawing Cranberries on the Counter

Remove the amount of frozen fresh cranberries that you need from the freezer. Place the frozen cranberries in a bowl or other dish. Fill the dish with cold water until the cranberries are covered.

Let the bowl of water and cranberries sit on the counter until fully thawed, about 5-10 minutes. If the cranberries are still frozen after 10 minutes, then you can drain the water and replace with fresh cold water. Check again in 10 minutes.

The time required to thaw the cranberries will depend on how many are in the bowl. A larger amount of cranberries will take longer to thaw than a small amount.

After thawing, pat the cranberries dry with a clean kitchen towel. You can then proceed with the recipe as instructed. 

washing cranberries in a bowl in the sink

Thawing Cranberries in the Microwave 

Place the desired amount of frozen cranberries in a microwave-safe bowl that’s been lined with a paper towel (this helps soak up the excess moisture from the cranberries).

Using the “Defrost” setting of your microwave, microwave the cranberries for 30 seconds. If they’re not fully thawed by that point, continue microwaving them on the defrost setting for 10-second intervals. 

Thawing Cranberries in the Fridge  

Measure the desired amount of frozen fresh cranberries into a bowl or sealable container. Place them in the fridge overnight, or for about 6 hours. 

In the morning, the cranberries will be thawed and ready to use. 

cranberries on a white platter

Do You Have to Thaw Frozen Cranberries Before Using Them? 

It depends on what you’re making. If you plan on using the cranberries in a recipe with a short cooking time — like pancakes or waffles — it’s best to thaw them first. 

Otherwise the frozen cranberries might not cook through fully and you’ll wind up with cold cranberries or uncooked patches of dough or batter in the finished product.  

If you’re making a fruit crisp, pie, cake, quick bread, or muffins, sauce, or anything else that has a longer cooking time you likely won’t need to thaw the cranberries beforehand, unless the recipe specifically states. 

However, you may want to toss the cranberries in a spoonful of flour or cornstarch before adding them to the recipe. Frozen cranberries can release more liquid than fresh cranberries once cooked, and you don’t want your baked goods to turn out soggy

Also, if using frozen cranberries in a baked good, you may need to add a few extra minutes to the total cook time. Frozen berries lower the temperature of batters and doughs, which means they’ll need more time in the oven. 

fresh cranberries in a decorative bowl

Common Issues (+ Solutions!) 

For the most part, it’s easy to substitute fresh cranberries with frozen cranberries. However, you may run into one of the following issues when doing so: 

  • The recipe came out too watery — Frozen fresh cranberries release quite a bit of liquid once cooked. To combat this, toss the berries in some all-purpose flour before mixing them into the batter. If making a cranberry sauce or a fruit filling of some kind (i.e. in a pie or fruit crisp), you can add cornstarch to the berry mixture instead.  
  • The cranberries sank to the bottom of my muffins / quick bread / cake  Don’t add frozen cranberries straight to the batter. Instead, toss them in a tablespoon or two of all-purpose flour first. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the batter. 
  • The berries bled into the batter — Frozen berries often bleed into quick bread and cake batters. To prevent this, rinse the berries until cold tap water and pat them dry. Then, toss them with flour before mixing them into the batter.
baking ingredients with cranberries

Cranberry Recipes

Now that you know how to freeze cranberries, you can start cooking with them! Below are some of my all-time favorite frozen cranberry recipes From cranberry sauce, to salsa, to muffins, there are so many recipes using frozen cranberries that you can make! 

Beverages

Sauces, Dips, & Spreads

Pies & Tarts

Other Baked Goodies

More How to Freeze Tutorials:

Now that you know everything there is to know about freezing cranberries, here are some more helpful freezer. tutorials:

Did you know that you can also freeze kale? Here’s How to Freeze Kale 4 different ways, depending on how you want to use it!

Knowing how to freeze soup and which soups freeze well makes meal prep a breeze! In this post, I share the best ways to freeze soup, plus how to defrost soup and which soups you can and can’t freeze.

Next time you make a batch pancakes or waffles, make some extra and follow this quick and easy tutorial for How to Freeze Pancakes and Waffles. I’ve also given instructions on how to reheat them!

No matter what season it is, you need to know How to Freeze Cookie Dough. Spoiler: it’s super easy to do!

Whether you stocked up on buttermilk in preparation for the holidays or like to keep it on hand for your favorite baked goods, freezing buttermilk is the perfect way to ensure you never run out! In this post, I’ll walk you through how to freeze buttermilk, how to thaw it, and why it’s worth freezing in the first place! 

Can you freeze butter? Absolutely! In this post, I walk you through how to freeze butter and how to defrost it. Plus, I answer other FAQs about freezing butter. 

Who doesn’t love a good kitchen tip? Looking for more kitchen tutorials? Check out the entire Kitchen Tips and Tricks archive for lots of great ideas!

How to Freeze Cranberries

How to Freeze Cranberries

Yield: 1 gallon
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Freezing Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Freezing cranberries is a great way to take advantage of winter’s offerings year-round! This post will show you how to freeze cranberries, answer questions about freezing and thawing cranberries, and shares some of my favorite recipes to use frozen cranberries.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon Fresh Cranberries

Instructions

  1. Throw away any cranberries that are soft or discolored. Lighter colored cranberries are underripe. They aren’t harmful, but they can be even more tart. 
  2. Rinse the remaining cranberries in a colander under cold tap water. 
  3. Spread a large, clean, dry towel on the counter and place the cranberries on top to dry. You can let them air dry or you can pat them dry with another towel, but they need to be completely dry before freezing, otherwise they can stick together and develop freezer burn more quickly.
  4. Spread the cranberries on a parchment paper-lined baking tray (tip: How to Line Pans with Parchment Paper). Make sure none of the cranberries are overlapping. 
  5. Place the baking sheet with the cranberries on it in the freezer. Keep the baking sheet as level as possible to prevent movement. 
  6. Freeze the cranberries just until solid, about 1 hour. 
  7. Transfer the frozen cranberries to a freezer safe container, a freezer zip top bag, or use a vacuum sealer and corresponding bag.
  8. Don’t forget to label and date the bag so you know when you froze the cranberries.  

Notes

Guard Against Freezer Burn

Seal the frozen fresh cranberries inside a freezer bag or another container that’s specifically intended to be used for freezer storage. Frozen cranberries can develop freezer burn if frozen in thinner plastic bags or containers unsuitable for freezer storage. 

How Long Are Frozen Cranberries Good For? 

If stored correctly, frozen cranberries are good for 12 to 18 months stored in the freezer. Fresh cranberries typically last a week, or less, in the refrigerator. By freezing, you are significantly extending their self life!  

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information
Yield 32 Serving Size 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 24Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 1mgCarbohydrates 6gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 0g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy. This provided information is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

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