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More than sauce: Cranberry recipes

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Saucy cranberry recipes

When you think cranberries, your thoughts probably dial in to the traditional sauce (or canned gel!) served with Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. But cranberries can be so much more. Toss out your expectations for the usual super sweet holiday sauce and try these inventive cranberry recipes instead.

Cranberry Apple Relish

A tasty update for cranberry sauce in a can

When it comes to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, cranberry sauce and turkey go hand in hand. But if you've lost your taste for the jellied variety that comes out of the can -- in the shape of a can -- there are plenty of other possibilities for a yummy cranberry-based accompaniment.

Fresh cranberries are grown in bogs, which are flooded during harvest time for easier collecting (and, yes, they really do come from bogs depicted in the Ocean Spray commercials!). High in vitamin C, cranberries are very tart on their own, but with the right seasoning, sweetening and flavorings, they are absolutely fabulous, and can become a delicious array of sides to serve with your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.

Cranberry sauce recipes

Cranberry Apple Relish

Here's a cranberry sauce that isn't a huge departure from traditional sauce -- a little chunky with a wonderful sweet-tart taste.

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 navel orange, zested and juiced
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
2 apples (firm, sweet-tart variety such as Cortland), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

Directions:
1. In a medium saucepan, stir the sugar, water, orange zest and orange juice until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

2. Stir in the cranberries and apples, and return to a boil.

3. Return mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and let cool for 10 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cranberry Chutney

Looking for something less sweet? This cranberry chutney takes on a more savory and slightly tart taste with onions, vinegar and spices. Just give it a taste when it's done cooking, and add a bit of agave nectar to take the edge off, if it is too tart for you liking.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 red onion, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 firm, sweet-tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 pears, peeled, cored and chopped
Agave nectar, if needed

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a 5-1/2-quart saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onion is slightly translucent.

2. Stir in the cranberries, cider, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes or until cranberries begin to burst.

3. Add the apples and pears. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until thick and deep red. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Give it a taste and adjust sweetness with a bit of agave nectar, if necessary.

4. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve hot, room temperature or chilled.

Cranberry Salsa

Consider this a complete departure from traditional sauces. Uncooked cranberries are sweetened and blended with both sweet and hot flavors to create a deliciously unique condiment. Serve salsa with tortilla chips or as part of a Tex-Mex themed Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. When choosing the hot pepper, choose wisely: A habanero will make this into a very hot salsa; a Serrano or a jalapeno will result in a milder salsa.

Ingredients:
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1 chile pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks with juice
1 lime, zested and juiced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fully combined. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

More holiday cranberry recipes

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