Crazy for Cranberry Sauce: Ideas and Recipes

At my house, if cranberry sauce didn’t come out of the can, my sister might have some strong words. But hear me out, Sister: this may be our year. Homemade cranberry sauce. Fresh cranberries, orange zest…sweet perfection.

Whether you’re looking for the classics or a side dish to spice up your menu, here are some great ideas for cranberry sauce recipes that the whole family will love:

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Recipes for Cranberry Sauce That May Just Outshine the Stuffing

Perfect Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce: the sweet and tangy condiment that’s a Thanksgiving staple. It’s much simpler than you’d think! And because it’s made without gelatin, it’s vegan, too! If you love it, put it in a jar and save it for other meals and snacks! Check out this recipe for cranberry sauce that we can’t get enough of:

cranberry sauce recipe

Crazy Good Cranberry Sauce

The perfect side to anyone’s Thanksgiving meal.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 min
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 11 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people
Calories 102 kcal


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries rinsed
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 orange peel


Crazy Good Cranberry Sauce

  • Over medium heat, combine sugar, orange juice, and water in a large saucepan and stir.
  • Add cranberries, salt, cinnamon stick, and orange peel. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  • Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, or until all (or most) of the cranberries have popped.
  • Let cool for a minimum of 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Calories: 102kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 73mgFiber: 2gSugar: 22gVitamin A: 64IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg
Keyword American, thanksgiving
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Orange-Cranberry Sauce

For this recipe filled with the warm, cozy spices of the holiday season, you’ll need 12 oz. cranberries, 1/2 cup orange, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp vanilla, and  2 tbsp orange zest. You can add other yummy ingredients like pecans, allspice, cinnamon, or raisins.

Jellied Cranberry Sauce with Apples:

This is for those individuals (*eh-hem* my sister) who prefer their cranberry sauce to be the jellied variety. This kind lends itself to being more of a side dish rather than a condiment. It’s a Cranberry-Apple variation with simple ingredients! Start by lining a loaf pan with plastic wrap and baking spray. In a medium saucepan, combine the 12 oz. of cranberries with 1 large peeled and diced fuji apple, 1 cup granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the cranberries are completely broken down and the sauce is very thick, which should be about 15 minutes. Pour the cranberry sauce into the loaf pan and chill for about 3 hours. Turn the jelly onto a serving plate and remove the plastic wrap. Sprinkle with garnishes like fresh cranberries and sprigs of rosemary.

Variations of the Classic Recipe

  • Honey: To add some depth to the sweetness, substitute the sugar with 2/3 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of water.
  • Spicy Jalapeno: If you’re looking for something a little different this year, you could quite literally spice up your Thanksgiving menu with this hot and sweet condiment. In a large saucepan, combine 2 jalapeno peppers (de-seeded and diced), 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 tsp orange zest. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and add 12 oz cranberries. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally as the cranberries pop. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and completely chill.
  • Cranberry Relish: This is basically the same ingredients as cranberry sauce, minus the cooking. Just put the 2 cups of rinsed, dried cranberries, 2 peeled, cored, and sliced tart green apples, apples, and 1 large, whole, seedless orange into the food processor before mixing it with 1-2 cups of sugar and orange zest. You need to get the right consistency–finely chopped but not mushy. You can also add or substitute ingredients like crystallized ginger, pear, pineapple, nuts, or other spices.

More Ways to Dress up Canned Cranberry Sauce

Not all of us are as enthusiastic about canned cranberry sauce as my sister. And that’s okay. Sometimes you need to make things a little more exciting when it comes to canned cranberry sauce. Here are ingredients you can add to make it feel a little fancier (try one or even combine some):

  • 2 Tablespoons of orange juice plus 1 teaspoon of finely-grated orange peel.
  • ½ can of mandarin oranges
  • ½ cup pineapple
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • ½ cup chopped dried apricots
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons of Zinfandel Wine
cranberry recipes cocktail

Recipe Ideas for Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Half the fun of Thanksgiving is eating those leftovers from the refrigerator for days. Here are some ideas to get those leftovers out of your fridge and onto your plate!

Cranberry Dijon Vinaigrette: This is the perfect dressing for that “I’ve got to get back on track” salad you’ll be eating for the next few days. In the food processor, combine 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 3/4 cup of vegetable oil, 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons chopped shallots, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Be sure to dress up your salad with lots of tasty extras like sunflower seeds, crunchy croutons, and matchstick carrots. If you don’t like the mustard flavor, try a honey cranberry vinaigrette on roasted asparagus.

Cranberry Sauce Bourbon Cocktail: The perfect cozy-up-by-the-fire cocktail to keep you nice and warm. Add 2 tbsp cranberry sauce to the bottom of a glass along with 1-2 shots of bourbon. Add ice, then fill the remainder of the glass with ginger beer. Squeeze a lemon wedge into the drink and stir well. Bottoms up!

Turkey and Cranberry Sauce Salad: A sweet and savory way to use up that extra turkey, too! In a large bowl, combine 3 cups of leftover shredded turkey, 2 stalks of chopped celery, 2 chopped green onions, and 1/3 cup of walnuts. Add in 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1/3 cup of cranberry sauce, 1/8 tsp paprika, and a splash of lemon juice. Serve on bread or on a salad.

Cranberry Drizzle: Whether you top your pancakes, put it on your sandwich, or serve it on top of that fancy cheesecake, cranberry sauce is the MVP in terms of its versatility. Mix together 1 cup of orange juice, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 16 oz of cranberry sauce in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, drop in a cinnamon stick, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently until the cranberry sauce is melted and the glaze is bubbling (about 10 minutes).

Baked Goods with Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars: The perfect breakfast before you head out on the brisk fall walk! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Then, in a large bowl, mix together 2 cups of oats, 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp. of baking soda, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Use your hands to incorporate 1 cup of unsalted butter into the dry ingredients. Spoon three-quarters of the oat mixture into an ungreased 13″x 9″ cake pan. Press down on it firmly everywhere to form a firm layer that evenly covers the bottom of the pan. 1-1/2 cups Add the cranberry sauce in dollops and spread it in a thin layer over the oat layer. Sprinkle with the remaining oat mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes, then allow it to cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins with Streusel Topping: A brunch staple, or even a baked snack for the afternoon! Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Line a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners and lightly coat with a nonstick baking spray. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1-1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup of oats, 1 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of baking soda, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of ground cinnamon. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together 1/3 cup of unsalted butter and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Add in 1/2 cup of milk, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, and stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and briefly stir (don’t fully combine). Then, add 1-1/4 cups of leftover cranberry sauce and stir until just combined. Divide evenly among the muffin liners, then sprinkle each with a spoonful of streusel topping (3 tablespoons brown sugar, 3 tablespoons rolled oats, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons cold, grated, unsalted butter, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon). Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in the muffin tray for 5 minutes before transferring muffins onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. 

cranberry muffins recipe

Savory Recipes for Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce Baked Chicken: This tasty chicken meal is perfect for chilly winter nights when you need something sweet and savory to hit the spot. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Season 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts with salt and pepper, to taste. Place chicken in the prepared dish. In a separate bowl, stir together 8 oz of French dressing, 1 can of cranberry sauce, 1 packet of dry onion soup mix, and orange zest. Pour sauce over chicken. Cover tightly and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and return to the oven for 15 more minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

Cranberry-Beef Mini Burgers: Cranberry tapenade brings a deep red color and sweet-sour zing to these fun little bacon cheeseburgers. Serve them for parties or any time you want to treat your family. You can make them hamburgers, too, if you prefer them without cheese!

Cranberry BBQ Saucy Ribs: Ribs are delicious on their own, but sometimes you need to spice it up with a little something different. On your favorite ribs recipe, try this sauce: 9 oz your favorite honey BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s), 1/4 cup of cranberry sauce, and 1–2 Tbsp liquid smoke.

Turkey Meatloaf with Cranberry Chili Sauce Glaze: As long as you’re not tired of turkey yet, this recipe is amazing if you’re looking for something sweet and spicy.

Cranberry Meatballs: The only thing that could make your classic meatball recipe better is having them marinating in a tasty cranberry sauce. Place 1 can of cranberry sauce in a bowl and microwave at 45-second intervals until just melted. Whisk in 12 oz. chili sauce, 2 Tbsp orange juice, and 1 Tbsp brown sugar; stir until mostly smooth. Place 1 (2 lb bag) of meatballs in a slow cooker and pour the sauce over them. Cook for 4 hours on LOW then serve, topped with parsley if desired. Serve them at your next backyard bonfire with coleslaw and potato salad.

Yes, You Cran!

If you’re in charge of making the cranberry sauce this year, we hope this has been helpful and inspired you to venture into new territory. But it’s great if you want to stick to the classics, too! Be sure to share a photo of the finished product, along with the rest of your amazing recipes with the ones you love on FamilyApp.

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