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Thanksgiving alternatives to can-shaped cranberry sauce

Do your guests a favor and skip the jellied cranberries this year. Never mind that it looks like a can, there are much tastier options for this Thanksgiving side dish favorite.

As a child I always loved eating the cylindrical shaped cranberry sauce, but I think it was because I thought it was Jell-o. Once I became a little more observant and realized that the shape of the side dish was in the exact form of the can it came from, my zest for the tangy treat decreased. Cranberries are packed with nutrients and offer a sweet punch to the rest of the savory items on the table. The cranberry has a significant role in the Thanksgiving feast but there has to be a better way to eat it. Here are a few ideas to incorporate the sweet little fruit that don’t involve jelly or a can.

Dried cranberries

  • Toss dried cranberries into a side salad with toasted nuts, goat cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette for a festive spin on an ordinary side salad.
  • Add them to a stuffing recipe for an unexpected burst of sweetness.
  • Mix cream cheese, garlic powder, basil and dried cranberries in a bowl. Form into a ball and roll in bread crumbs to create an appetizer. Serve with crackers.

Butter me up

  • For savory flavored butter, mix chopped cranberries with fresh herbs and garlic with a stick of butter. Blend the ingredients in a mixing bowl and place in the refrigerator.
  • For a sweet option, add cinnamon, cranberry and a touch of honey to a stick of butter in a bowl. Blend the ingredients and place mixture in the refrigerator.
Cranberry relish

Fresh berries

  • Use fresh cranberries in relishes mixed with other fruits like apples or oranges.
  • Top desserts with fresh cranberry sauce.

Drink up

  • Serve cranberry cocktails, cranberry cider or cranberry punch.
  • Freeze fresh cranberries and serve them in Champagne or white wine.


  • Add cranberries to traditional desserts like apple pie or pecan pie.
  • Incorporate some new desserts into your feast like cranberry chocolate chip cookies.

Cranberry pumpkin muffin recipe with streusel topping

Cranberry pumpkin muffins with streusel topping

Yields 18 muffins


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 15 ounces pumpkin
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Streusel topping recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare 18 muffin tins.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer. Add in eggs and vanilla.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Stir together until combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and beat until combined. Add in pumpkin and cranberries and mix until combined.
  5. To make the streusel add all ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine. Break up the butter so it is in small chunks.
  6. Add a scoop of the muffin batter to each muffin tin and top with a spoonful of streusel topping. Bake for 18 minutes.

Traditional vs. Modern Thanksgiving

More cranberry recipes

Cranberry crunch salad
More than sauce: Cranberry recipes
Spiked cranberry tea

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