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Cranberry Jellies

Featured in our 2018 Christmas Guide

Yield: about 60

Purply-red, a little tart, and a little sweet, these pretty bite-size candies are a great homemade gift during the holiday season. See our test kitchen tip, below, about working with pectin.


For the jellies

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 10 oz. cranberries, fresh or frozen (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. apple cider; more as needed
  • 2 cups plus 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. powdered pectin, preferably Pomona’s Universal Pectin
  • 1/4 cup honey

For coating the jellies

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. citric acid or vitamin C powder


Make the jellies

  • Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch metal pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom and 2 of the sides with one strip of parchment long enough to overhang on the 2 sides. Lightly coat the parchment with nonstick spray.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries with 1/2 cup water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a simmer, and cook until the berries are soft, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  • Purée the mixture in a blender until smooth, and then press through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. The purée should measure 1-1/4 cups. If short, add cider to make up the difference.
  • In a small bowl, whisk 3 Tbs. of the sugar with the pectin.
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk the pectin mixture, purée, cider, honey, and remaining 1-3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs. sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook, whisking constantly, about 10 minutes. Test the jelly by spooning a small amount—about 1/4 tsp.—onto a plate. Cool for about 30 seconds; it should peel off in one piece. If the mixture won’t peel, keep cooking.
  • Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, and let it sit on a level surface uncovered at room temperature until the candy sets up, at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • Lift the jelly out of the pan using the overhanging parchment. Flip onto a cutting board, and remove the parchment. Cut the jellies into 60 pieces, or use the cutters of your choice, if you like.

Coat the jellies

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and citric acid. Toss each jelly in the sugar mixture, then serve or store in an airtight container for up to seven days.


While testing this recipe, the Fine Cooking test kitchen tried  a variety of pectins. We prefer the brand we mention in the recipe, Pomona’s Universal Pectin, because the jellies set up quickly, retained the beautiful red color of the cranberries, and had a wonderful texture and consistency. Be sure not to use the calcium powder in the Pomona package, only the pectin powder. You can find pectin next to the gelatin in supermarkets and citric acid in the baking aisle.


Rate or Review


  • Maya3 | 11/17/2018

    I followed the recipe exactly, using Pomona's Universal Pectin without the calcium water. It set up beautifully and looked great. It was a hit at a staff potluck. I don't know how it would keep, given that it was gone in one day! Thought it was a lot of fun to make and really happy with the results.

  • user-4173138 | 11/16/2018

    After reading this recipe several times, I realized something was missing: Pomona's Universal Pectin is a two-part product, and there was no mention of part two, the calcium water. After a conversation with a Pomona's rep, I got her take on the instructions (add an equal amount of calcium water before bringing mixture to a boil) and went to work. The Jelly set up perfectly. But by the next day, it had started to weep, and coating it with the sugar mix did not help. After two days in storage, the jellies were beginning to liquify.
    There's a problem with this recipe, and it needs to be clarified, as it does entail a lot of work, as the previous poster mentioned.

  • User avater
    EMM3773 | 11/02/2018

    Followed the instructions exactly, the recipe did not set up at all. Cooked for over 20 minutes but could not get it to that stage. Unfortunate, as it was a bit of work and I was really looking forward to them.

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