Don't Make These Cranberry Sauce Mistakes

No Thanksgiving Day spread is complete without the cranberry sauce. Per Ocean Spray, we eat 400 million pounds of cranberries each year, with 20 percent of that yearly consumption happening on Thanksgiving. Yet, 76 percent of us will eschew cooking up this ruby staple at home, and instead, will be serving up a store-bought variation of cranberry sauce, and that's perfectly fine and acceptable; however, for the 24 percent who will be braving the role of chef and firing up their stove tops to make their own, we've got your six.

Simply put, cranberry sauce is an easy side dish to make and with many opportunities to mess it up, especially if you wait until the big day to make it. It might surprise you to learn that according to Eating Well, cranberry sauce can be made up to a week ahead of your big feast, and stored in the refrigerator. And as great and as organized as that sounds, most of us feel lucky if we remember to give our turkey adequate time to defrost, let alone remember to make the cranberry sauce in advance. So, what do you do if you find that your cranberry sauce is a little bitter or bland? Or you like your cranberry sauce to gel a bit, but it looks like soup?

Use spices to up your cranberry sauce's flavor

Luckily there are ways to fix less than stellar cranberry sauce. At its most basic, cranberry sauce consists of cranberries, water, and sugar. If this recipe isn't flavorful enough, Eating Well notes that you can use a little brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup to jazz it up. Or break out the spice rack and try some cinnamon sticks, orange zest, or star anise. Reader's Digest suggests adding in a teaspoon of apple or orange juice or even a wine with fruity flavor if you find your cranberry sauce too sour for your taste buds. They also note that if it is too sweet, you can change that with a sprinkle of salt which will help ease the sugary taste.

But what if you didn't have time to make your cranberry sauce ahead of time? Eating Well says not to worry but change course and make more of a cranberry relish instead. Tastes Better from Scratch explains that there's no cooking involved with a cranberry relish. It requires just cranberries, a peeled orange, and some sugar. Throw it all into the blender and let your kitchen gadget work its magic.

How to fix cranberry sauce that's too thick or too thin

Trying to figure out to do if your cranberry sauce is too thick or thin? Eating Well points out that overly thick cranberry sauce is the result of cooking it too long. You are aiming for a balance where some of the cranberries burst open while they cook, and others remain whole. But if you get busy while you are preparing the other food for your dinner — we all know it happens — and you end up with a thick gelatinous mess, you can loosen your sauce's texture by adding some water or orange juice. 

However, conversely, if you find your cranberry sauce on the thinner side and too soupy, there's a fix for that, too. Thin cranberry sauce is generally a result of adding too much liquid or not enough sugar. Sugar works with the cranberries' pectin to thicken up the mixture. Williams Sonoma'a blog Taste suggests cooking it a little longer to reduce the liquid. But if that doesn't solve your problem, you can try adding either gelatin, pectin, or a cornstarch slurry to your cranberry sauce to thicken it up.