Melissa Gray's Cranberry Granita

The perfect dessert for the non-bakers.

Melissa’s Cranberry Granita
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Margaret Monroe Dickey; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis
Active Time:
20 mins
Freeze Time:
12 hrs
Total Time:
12 hrs 20 mins

"My Aunt Terry is admittedly not a great baker, so she started making this cranberry granita. I'm from Florida, and November can be rather hot there. Granita is a great dessert that cools us all back down," says Test Kitchen Professional Melissa Gray. "It's perfectly tart and sweet; plus it's so light that it saves room for that second plate from the buffet!"

This Thanksgiving, Southern Living's editors and contributors are sharing the recipes that grace our tables year after year—like Melissa's Cranberry Granita. This year, we're ditching the canned cranberry sauce and opting for a Florida-style Thanksgiving. You can use fresh or thawed frozen cranberries in this simple dish. With oven and fridge space so coveted around Thanksgiving, this Cranberry Granita is perfect to make a up to a week ahead of time and stash in the freezer. You can even serve this cool treat in a glass with a splash of vodka or tequila.


  • 1 pound fresh or thawed, frozen cranberries (about 3½ cups)

  • 4 cups cold water, divided

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 (3-oz.) pkg. lemon-flavored gelatin (such as Jell-O)

  • 2 cups hot water

  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large orange)

  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)


  1. Combine cranberries and 2 cups of the cold water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst, about 10 minutes. Place a strainer over a large bowl; strain mixture, gently pressing cranberries with back of a spoon. Discard cranberries. Add sugar to cranberry juice; stir until dissolved, 1 minute. Pour into a 13- x 9-inch (3-quart) baking dish. Set aside to cool at room temperature.

  2. Meanwhile, whisk together gelatin and 2 cups hot water in a large bowl until dissolved, 1 minute. Stir in orange and lemon juices and remaining 2 cups cold water until combined. Add gelatin mixture to cranberry juice, stirring until combined. Freeze, covered, until solid, about 12 hours or overnight. Scrape with a fork; serve immediately.

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