Spiced Cranberry Jam

jar of cranberry jam

Most of the time, I do my preserving in relatively small batches. However, as we begin to approach the gift giving time of year, I take inventory of what I have in the pantry and then make a few very large batches to round out the selection (Scott likes to give his co-workers some of my jams and pickles, and I typically put together gift bags for neighbors and family members).

bag of cranberries

One fruit I rely on heavily for these larger, holiday-themed batches is the mighty cranberry. It has great flavor, contains a goodly amount of pectin (which means there’s never any doubt that it will set up), and goes beautifully with all manner of wintertime fare.

cranberries in a pot

This is not my first go-round with cranberry jam (I shared a basic batch the first year this site was around and did a tin can molded version back in 2011), but I like this one because it has plenty of flavor and retains its essential tartness. Of course, if you want to temper the boldness of the cranberry, you can try pear cranberry jam, cranberry marmalade, apple cranberry jam, or cranberry quince sauce.

cooked cranberry jam

When making this jam for gift giving, I cook it until the berries are mostly popped and will sometimes use a potato masher to help break it down a bit more. If you prefer a smoother spread, you could either introduce an immersion blender or push the jam through a food mill for something that it mostly skin and seed-free.

filling jars with cranberry jam

Because cranberries are quite high in acid, this is a recipe you play around with a little without causing unsafe conditions. Swap out the spices and drop in a vanilla bean instead. Use more orange zest and juice for a citrusy punch. Go wild and add a little cayenne or ancho chili powder to provide some heat. Unless you start adding handfuls of garlic and onion, you’d be hard pressed to make an unsafe cranberry jam.

cranberry jam from above

Oh, and one more note about cranberries. If you like sweet and tangy things and you haven’t tried my pickled cranberries yet, consider making up a batch while they’re in stores this season.

Now your turn. What cranberry jams, sauces, and jellies are you making this time of year?

Spiced Cranberry Jam

Yield: 5 pints


  • 3 pounds fresh cranberries (about 12-14 cups)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Prepare a boiling water bath and necessary jars. Place lids in a small saucepan and bring to a bare simmer.
  2. Combine the cranberries, sugar, cider, and orange and lemon juice and zest in a large pot (use a big one, this jam will bubble) over high heat.
  3. Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam that develops on the top of the fruit. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the cranberries pop.
  4. Add the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves and stir to combine.
  5. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the jam looks quite thick. If it appears to be thickening too much before all the cranberries are popped, add a splash of water to loosen.
  6. Ladle jam into jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.

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111 Responses to Spiced Cranberry Jam

  1. 51
    Megan says:

    Thank you again for this great recipe – it was lovely to give out around Thanksgiving! I just opened a jar today, though, and I noticed a few bubbles (not moving) at the top – and black scum on the underside of the lid. I threw out the whole jar to be safe, but I was curious if you knew what the cause of that was, and what I could try in the future to avoid it. (This recipe was so delicious, I really miss that last jar!)

    • 51.1
      Marisa says:

      Megan, sometimes you get some black scum forming on the bottom of lids as the acid from the product reacts with a scratch that exposes the metal of the lid. It’s not dangerous, just ugly. And bubbles aren’t a risk if they’re not actively moving. If there are just a few air pockets in a product, they do no harm. I think this jam was probably safe to eat. ๐Ÿ™

      • Megan says:

        Thanks for the quick response! I guess one actually can be too careful ๐Ÿ™‚ but good to know for next time, and I’m relieved that those other jars I gave out as gifts have nothing to worry about!

  2. 52
    Miriam says:

    I know this is an older recipe, but I just had to say how delicious it is! I had an extra bag of cranberries left from making your apple-cranberry and pear-cranberry jams (this is what happens when I send my boyfriend to get ingredients!) and wanted to make something with them. I based the proportions on your 2009 cranberry jelly recipe, but was still slightly short of one lb. of fruit, so I peeled and pithed two oranges we had in the fridge after zesting them to bulk it up. I also switched to brown sugar and used a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. I ended up with two half pints and one 4 oz. jar, which are in a waterbath right now. Love the recipe. Thanks!

    • 52.1
      susan says:

      Miriam, is it possible for you to share how much brown sugar you used in your adjustment to Marisa’s recipe. also increments to spices. I would like to try your version since I usually have those ingredients on hand. Thank you

  3. 53
    Reet says:

    I followed the recipe but mine taste really weired! It has sour taste to it at the end!

  4. 54
    Sam says:

    How do you sanitize you jars before using them? Dishwasher, boiling water, oven?
    Thank you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. 55
    Chloe says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I have a question, I doubled the recipe and opted out of using the apple cider, instead I used water and one packet of gelatin, but kept the same amount of sugar. The jars all sealed properly and I processed for over 15 minutes (I am at a higher elevation). Is my recipe still safe (I’m giving as gifts)?

  6. 56
  7. 57
    sarah says:

    I want to try your recipe. Can you tell me how many jars I will be able to fill using 3 pounds of cranberries?
    Thanks a lot!

  8. 58

    […] evening. The jam is think, really almost more of a chutney, and I used the basic recipe from Food in Jars. With a few jars, I used candied ginger instead of fresh, and I added a big pinch of cinnamon to […]

  9. 59
    Lisa Richardson says:

    Could you add chopped walnuts or pecans to this recipe?

  10. 60
    Jay says:

    Hey, thinking of trying this recipe for gifts, how long does the jam last once it’s sealed in a jar? Thanks

  11. 61
    Cyndie says:

    HI! So excited to try this. Question – can I add another orange and 4 apples and still be safe to can?
    Also – if we 86 the spices and add jalapenos and sriracha sauce are we ok?

    • 61.1
      Marisa says:

      Yes. Normally I tell people to watch out when they add hot peppers, but there are so many high acid ingredients in this recipe that you should be just fine. And sriracha is half vinegar, so that’s okay too.

  12. 62
  13. 63
    Anne says:

    Hi Marisa – I have a freezer full of cranberries. Should I defrost them before making this jam? Thanks!

  14. 64
  15. 65
    Mary says:

    I love that I always find your website when I search for recipes and can rely on the quality and safety of the recipes.
    I am wondering if this recipe is more like home made cranberry sauce in taste (tart, orangy) as I am really looking for a sweet spread for toast. What is the best thing to add to offset the tart…I am thinking sugar but maybe you have other ideas? I’ll go dig your book out now ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. 66
    Kelly says:

    Hi I have a question, how long do you cook it for?

    • 66.1
      Marisa says:

      Like it says in the recipe, you cook it for 10-15 minutes, until the cranberries pop. Then you add the spices and cook until it seems thick to you. Because there’s natural variation in cranberries, I can’t tell you precisely how long it will take. In some cases, another five minutes of cooking might be all you need. Other times, it could take 15-20. It varies.

  17. 67
    Nanc says:

    Can I convert the sugar to honey? If yes, do you substitute 1:1?

    • 67.1
      Marisa says:

      Have you seen my new cookbook, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars? It’s all about preserving with honey, maple, agave, coconut sugar, fruit juice concentrates, and dried fruits.

      If you’re converting from sugar to honey, you always use at least 1/3 less honey than sugar.

      • Kate says:

        Hi. I would like to make this recipe to give the finished jam as gifts this Christmas. I have a few family members who are diabetic so I’d like to cut the sugar with stevia. What do you know about cannning with stevia? Do you think it would be safe to replace half the sugar with stevia equivelant? Or even more stevia than sugar? What about no sugar at all? Thank you!

        • Marisa says:

          Unfortunately, swapping stevia in for sugar isn’t an easy process or one for which I can offer you a formula. Stevia often gets quite bitter when combined with acidic things like fruit (that’s the first obstacle). Second is the fact that sugar plays an integral role in the set and preservation process. When you remove sugar, you end up with syrupy preserves that spoil quickly.

          You can use non-sugar sweeteners in preserving, as long as you use a pectin designed for that approach and you accept that their shelf life will be reduced. I suggest you take a look at pomonapectin.com, as their product is a pectin designed for low and no sugar canning. They have a collection of recipes on their site that should lead you in the right direction.

  18. 68
  19. 69
    Mary Beth Spurlock says:

    I made strawberry cranberry jam last year for Christmas gifts. I just finished spiced pear jam that I made from the skins of the pears I peeled for canning. I ended up with 6 quarts of diced pears in light syrup and 16 half pints of spiced pear jam from 16 lbs of pears. I was looking for a recipe for spiced pear jam, and came across your website, but didn’t have vanilla beans. I was interested in what I was reading though, so I came back to check it out now that I am finished canning for the day. I think this recipe for spiced cranberry jam sounds really interesting. I have been seeing cranberries in the store this week and have been thinking I should start making Christmas Jams. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I love canning and love to learn from others who share the passion!

  20. 70
    Lori Starr says:

    I made cranberry jelly or I should say I tried but it wouldn’t set up.I put hot peppers in it ,could that be the trouble?

  21. 71
  22. 72
    Jammy says:

    This sounds intriguing ๐Ÿ™‚ My question is, is there a substitute for the apple cider? For example, would apple juice work instead?

  23. 73
    Deborah says:

    I put in a few squirts of Maple Syrup as I wanted this to be sweeter and used the immersion blender. Came out amazing. I think I canned it a little runny as I didn’t want the jam to be too think. Right, it’s August but I froze cranberries last winter to make something like this Came out really good, thanks.

  24. 74
    Diane says:

    I work at an organic market and we just received our local farm produce. I picked up some fresh young ginger and turmeric today. While I was preparing the ingredients for this recipe I grated the young turmeric instead of the ginger. What a happy accident! I also added ground allspice and nutmeg along with the cinnamon and ground cloves. I am very happy with the results. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  25. 75
    Maryam says:

    Thanks for sharing the recipie. Can you kindly explain what you mean by โ€œprocess in a boiling water bath for 10 minutesโ€.


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