Americans explain why they hate cranberry sauce more than any other holiday dish

The holidays are a time for delicious food- and lots of it. Many of us have fond memories of the incredible spreads our parents and grandparents have prepared over the years, serving us some of our favorite foods. Apparently, however, not every traditional holiday dish is as well-loved. In particular, it appears that many people hate cranberry sauce.

That’s right- it’s not the dry turkey or even the brussel sprouts that most Americans would rather go without. It’s the sweet red sauce straight from the can.


Americans Hate Cranberry Sauce

In 2019, the Harris Poll conducted an Instacart online survey of more than two thousand adults. They found that the majority of them (87 percent, to be exact) were attending a Thanksgiving dinner that year.

The results of the survey were quite illuminating. It turns out, 68 percent of Americans secretly dislike traditional Thanksgiving foods. Despite this, they eat every year for the sake of tradition. That being said, not all of these traditional foods were disliked equally.

The survey found that the number one food that most Americans hate is cranberry sauce. Specifically, the canned stuff. Out of all respondents, 29 percent of them said they would rather go without the red stuff [1].


Why do Americans Hate Cranberry Sauce?

It may have something to do with the way many people serve it. According to the Instacart survey, 31 percent of Americans said they serve their cranberry sauce still in the shape of the can.

It’s possible then that the reason people don’t like it is because of the way it looks, rather than the taste. Perhaps if it were mashed up first, it would look more appetizing. This leads to the next question: why aren’t people taking that extra step to make the sauce more appealing? Maybe then Americans would hate cranberry sauce a little less?

One possible reason is that many people who are making Thanksgiving dinner do not enjoy doing so, and thus are cutting corners wherever they can. The survey said that 80 percent of US adults have hosted a Thanksgiving dinner, but many of those people likely wished that they weren’t.


To illustrate this, the survey asked a few “would you rather” questions, and got some interesting results:

  • 40% of Millennials (ages 23–38) would rather give up sex for a month than be responsible for cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
  • 42% of men would rather give up watching football for a month than be responsible for cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
  • 29% of Americans (and 39% of Millennials) would rather give up their phone for a month than be responsible for cooking Thanksgiving dinner [1].

Being that cranberry sauce is not a focal point of the meal, it is also possible that many people treat it as an after-thought, which is why they end up simply jiggling it out of a can and onto a plate right before serving. Maybe if more people made it from scratch, everyone would no longer hate cranberry sauce? 

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What Else do Americans Hate?

Cranberry sauce may have taken the top spot on America’s Thanksgiving hit-list, but it’s not the only disliked traditional dish on the menu. The other dishes Americans seem to hate the most are:

  • Green bean casserole (24%)
  • Sweet potatoes / sweet potato casserole (22%)
  • Pumpkin pie (21%)
  • Turkey (19%) [1]

In particular, it seems to be Millennials that are deciding to cook something other than the traditional turkey feast for Thanksgiving dinner. The survey found that 42 percent of Millennials who had hosted a Thanksgiving dinner served something other than turkey. As more Millennials begin taking over as holiday hosts, this trend is likely to continue to increase.

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The Good News for the Cranberry Sauce Lovers

If you are part of the population that doesn’t hate cranberry sauce, there’s some good news for you. They are relatively low in calories and provide some fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, vitamin A, and B vitamins [2].

Due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content, cranberries offer a number of health benefits:


Can Help Prevent UTIs

Cranberries contain high levels of antioxidant proanthocyanidins (PACs), which help to stop bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. This can help prevent urinary tract infections.

That being said, it does take a high concentration of cranberry extract to achieve this effect. Eating cranberry sauce does not actually provide enough PACs to prevent UTIs, but the antioxidant itself still provides benefits to overall health [3].


Reducing the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

There is some research to suggest that the polyphenols in cranberries may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. One systematic review from 2019 found that supplementing the diet with cranberries can help a person manage the following risk factors for CVD:

  • Systolic blood pressure
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • High density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol [4]

Possibly Slowing the Progression of Cancer

34 preclinical test-tube studies have found that cranberries or the compounds within them can trigger the death of cancer cells, slow the growth of cancer cells, and reduce inflammation. There have not yet been very many tests on humans, but it does provide a promising opportunity for future cancer treatments [5].

Improving Oral Health

Not only do they help prevent UTI’s, but the PACs in cranberries also benefit oral health. They do this by preventing bacteria from binding to the surface of your teeth. They may also help prevent gum disease [6].

Give Cranberries and Cranberry Sauce Another Try

If you’re among the many who hate cranberry sauce, perhaps this Thanksgiving it’s time to give it another try? Consider tossing the can and making your own from scratch. At the very least, try putting the sauce into a bowl and mashing it up to make it look more appetizing.

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  1. Expanding Same-Day Alcohol Delivery in Partnership with Meijer to Reach Nearly 75% of U.S. Households.” Insta cart. November 8, 2021.
  2. WH Foods
  3. Cranberry juice capsules and urinary tract infection after surgery: results of a randomized trial.” AJOG. Betsy Foxman, PhD., et al. April 13, 2015.
  4. The effects of cranberry on cardiovascular metabolic risk factors: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Pubmed. Makan Pourmasoumi, et al. April 11, 2019.
  5. Cranberries and Cancer: An Update of Preclinical Studies Evaluating the Cancer Inhibitory Potential of Cranberry and Cranberry Derived Constituents.” NCBI. Katherine M. Weh, et al. August 18, 2016.
  6. Influence of cranberry juice on glucan-mediated processes involved in Streptococcus mutans biofilm development.” Pubmed. H Koo, et al. 2006.