Is Cranberry Sauce Gluten-Free?

Cranberry sauce in a bowl

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Cranberry sauce is usually gluten-free. So this popular dish is one of the easier additions to your holiday meal if you or one of your dinner guests has celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In fact, there are multiple store-bought options and great recipes for gluten-free cranberry sauce.

Fresh cranberries don't contain any gluten unless they've been subjected to gluten cross-contamination in processing or handling, but that would be unlikely. Therefore, it's easy to make a homemade gluten-free cranberry sauce using fresh berries, plus other safe ingredients.

In addition, some store-bought cranberry sauces—especially those with no added ingredients beyond cranberries and sugar—are considered gluten-free. If you don't have time to make your own cranberry sauce, these brands can represent a safe fallback for your holiday meal.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Sauce Brands

Although most cranberry sauces appear to contain only gluten-free ingredients, there are relatively few that appear on stores' gluten-free lists. That doesn't mean the sauces in question actually contain gluten. But they may be processed on shared equipment or in a shared facility.

It's quite possible, too, that the cranberry sauce for sale under your local store brand is perfectly safe. Always check ingredients carefully, and if in doubt, call the toll-free number for the store's customer service.

Here's a list of gluten-free cranberry sauce brands available in the U.S:

  • Ocean Spray is probably the best-known brand when it comes to cranberry products. This brand is easily found nationwide in supermarkets all year long. The company makes two different types of cranberry sauce: whole berry and jellied. According to a statement on the company website, the sauces are free from the gluten found in certain grains (wheat, barley, rye, and oats or hybrids of these) based on documentation from their ingredient suppliers.
  • Thrive Market is an online, membership-based market. This option is smart for those who prefer to have their holiday supplies delivered to their door. Thrive Market makes an organic whole berry cranberry sauce that is gluten-free. The sauce contains organic cranberries, organic sugar, filtered water, and organic lemon juice concentrate. So if you are looking to avoid high fructose corn syrup, this is a good choice.
  • Wild Harvest is a brand that provides primarily organic products. The company says that many of their products are also gluten-free. Their organic jellied cranberry sauce, found at large supermarkets like Cub Foods, is labeled as gluten-free.
  • Woodstock brand makes both whole berry cranberry sauce and jellied cranberry sauce. This brand is found online and in large supermarkets, including Whole Foods. While the label does not specifically indicate the food is gluten-free, large online vendors such as Instacart list both varieties as gluten-free.

Note that other cranberry sauce brands such as Market Pantry (found at Target stores) or 365, Whole Foods' house brand, make cranberry sauces that do not contain any gluten ingredients. But there is no indication of whether or not the foods may have been subjected to cross-contamination. Therefore it is not known if they are truly gluten-free.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Although many family traditions call for a can of jellied cranberry sauce, many people enjoy homemade sauce. Thankfully, it's pretty easy to make. Cranberries are nutritious, too. The berries provide fiber and are a good source of vitamin C and manganese.

Making your own sauce at home allows you to control the ingredients and choose those that you know are free from gluten and other allergens if they are a concern.

A basic sauce simply requires that you boil the berries in a pot with water and your sweetener of choice. Honey is a popular choice because it is natural. It takes just about 10 minutes to cook the mixture down to your desired consistency. Add orange zest or other flavorings according to your taste preference.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce to Avoid

When it comes to cranberry sauce and gluten, your biggest risk is a homemade sauce made by a friend or relative in their own kitchen. While your kitchen may be set up to avoid cross-contamination, others may not. Ingredients and cooking aids are likely to promote cross-contamination.

The cross-contamination is likely to come from the sugar. If the container of sugar used for the cranberry sauce also was used in baking, it may have been contaminated. For instance, a spoon or scoop may be shared between flour and sugar. The sauce also can get cross-contaminated from plastic bowls, Teflon pots, wooden spoons, and other cooking supplies and utensils previously used with gluten-containing foods.

Believe it or not, you're also at risk (although less of a risk) for gluten exposure from canned sauce served in someone else's kitchen. There, the potential problem is a cross-contaminated can opener.

Safety Tip

Experts often advise that you avoid eating any cranberry sauce that a friend or loved one makes unless you are certain that their entire kitchen is gluten-free. The risk of cross-contamination is substantial.

A Word From Verywell

Regardless of the source, gluten contamination is a real concern during your holiday meal. It's just not worth taking a chance, especially during an important family gathering. Take the necessary steps to make a complete traditional gluten-free Thanksgiving menu.

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ocean Spray. Do Ocean Spray products contain gluten?

  2. Thrive Market. Organic whole cranberry sauce.

  3. Cub Foods. Wild Harvest cranberry sauce, organic, jellied.

  4. Instacart. Woodstock organic whole cranberry sauce.

  5. Studerus D, Hampe EI, Fahrer D, Wilhelmi M, Vavricka SR. Cross-contamination with gluten by using kitchen utensils: Fact or fictionJ Food Prot. 2018;81(10):1679-1684. doi:10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-17-383

Additional Reading

By Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson is a medical journalist and an expert in celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and the gluten-free diet.