The Ultimate Canned Cranberry Sauce Taste Test (Slideshow)
14) Whole Foods’ 365 Jellied
This one was a major disappointment, and a major surprise. Coming in dead last, testers thought that it was "too apple sauce-y," and was "strange, with no cranberry flavor." Others found it "plain" and "bland," and it had a pale, pallid color.
13) America’s Choice Jellied
Another one that tasted more like apple sauce than cranberry sauce, this brand, sold at A&P and Pathmark, also didn’t fare very well. It had a "grainy" texture, and most found it to be too sweet, bland, and with a weird, mealy texture.
12) Key Food Jellied
This sauce was bland, watery, and had a "weird chemical taste," according to a taster, and was more bitter than tangy. Most agreed that it "lacked any distinction."
11) Super A Jellied
This brand is sold at Super A supermarkets as well as Associated Food, and fell squarely at the bottom of the pack as well. "Tastes more like sour applesauce than cranberry sauce" one taster said, and others agreed. "Mealy gelatin," said another. "Tastes processed and unnatural," another said.
10) Great Value Jellied
Walmart’s house brand didn’t fare so well either. While it wasn’t overly sweet and had a decent tang, it tasted overly processed and looked pale. It was clear to all tasters that it was artificial, and it is: it’s sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup instead of sugar and citric acid instead of lemon juice.
9) Ocean Spray Whole Berry
Surprisingly, Ocean Spray’s whole berry sauce came in dead last in the whole berry category. It was watery and mealy, and the chunks of cranberry had a weird gritty texture. It also could have used a bit more of a cranberry "kick," as it was very one note and uninteresting.
8) Foodtown Whole Berry
The chunky texture was a bit too mealy in this one. It also wasn’t as tart as it could be and was overpoweringly sweet. Our tasters also noticed a weird aftertaste, and once again it tasted a lot like applesauce. The whole berries came across as high-quality, though.
7) Whole Foods’ 365 Whole Berry
Once again, Whole Foods’ offering fell a bit flat. While our tasters loved the fact that it contained "actual cranberries" as opposed to just skins, it was a "sugary purée" that one taster could best describe as "dry." Overall, however, we were grateful to see real cranberries.
6) Ocean Spray Jellied
Ocean Spray’s jellied offering, which is most likely the country’s most widely consumed cranberry sauce, struck a couple tasters as similar to apple sauce, but another picked it as "the best of the worst" for its "timeless flavor." It was smooth and tart and lacked any mealiness, and a few tasters found it to be "typical," most likely because they’d eaten it so many times before.
5) Wild Thymes Whole Berry
The only "gourmet" offering sold from a jar was also the only one that contained orange juice, but oddly enough the orange flavor didn’t come through in the least, and nobody picked up on it. Our tasters found it to be sour and pungent, but "ultimately it has the bite you look for in a cranberry sauce," said one. While one taster called it simply "the worst," others appreciated the "zesty" tang and actual sauce-like texture. We’re not sure its hefty price tag is worth it, though.
4) Pacific Organic Whole Berry
This boxed organic cranberry sauce was overall very pleasing to our tasters, who found it to have a "nice natural sweetness" and a great consistency. A couple found it to be too sweet and a little mealy, but one taster said, "I might make an exception to my 'no skins' rule because this is just so moist and flavorful that it deserves a high score." Its ingredients are also only cranberries, cane sugar, and water, which is a nice change of pace from all the high-fructose corn syrup.
3) America’s Choice Whole Berry
A surprising addition to the top of the pack, our tasters appreciated its natural-tasting flavor and smooth, mealiness-free consistency. Its sourness was tempered by the right amount of sugar. Most tasters found it to be "perfectly balanced." Not bad for less than a buck!
2) Key Food Whole Berry
This store brand has a "good clean flavor," according to our tasters, who also felt that it had a good tang and texture. It was full of nearly whole cranberries, which gave it a nice chunky texture, which was basically free of any mealiness, and wasn’t overpoweringly sweet, like many of its competitors.
1) Woodstock Whole Berry
Our top can also happens to be organic, non-GMO verified, and contains only organic cranberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice. It contains only 17 grams of sugar per serving (as opposed to the 21 in most of its competition), and all tasters agreed that there was a perfect balance between sweet, sour, tangy, and citrusy. The texture was smooth and free of mealiness, and it was a near-unanimous favorite. It's expensive, but if you;re looking for a top-notch cranberry sauce, Woodstock's is the best on the market.