Creative Cranberry Recipes for Thanksgiving and Beyond


Cranberries by Arthur T. LaBar (CC BY-NC)

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Cranberries by Arthur T. LaBar (CC BY-NC)

Cranberry Creations

While cranberry sauce isn't the star of Thanksgiving, it plays a strong supporting role — and sometimes, that role gets a little stale. This year, try swapping out plain cranberry sauce for something a little more exciting, such as spritzed cranberry chutney or cranberry-topped nachos. These creative cranberry recipes are bound to take your Thanksgiving — or any holiday meal — up a notch. Do you have a creative cranberry recipe to share? Tell us in the comments.

Related: Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Cranberries

Cooking  fresh pear and cranberry

Cardamom-Spiced Cranberry-Pear Sauce

Not that cranberries need a sidekick, but if they did, pears would make a suitable one. This cranberry sauce recipe includes two pears as well as pear nectar, along with cardamom and vanilla bean paste to lend a sweeter, more complex flavor than the average canned cranberry sauce. 

Recipe: An Edible Mosaic

Related: Creative Thanksgiving Side Dishes To Make This Holiday Season

Fancy glass bowl of cranberry sauce with other fruit on top

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry relish is made with fresh cranberries, usually blended with nuts and other fruits. That the cranberries are uncooked makes for a tarter side dish, but there's enough sugar in this recipe to balance it out. Add oranges, apples, and pecans, and you've got a worthy cranberry sauce substitute. 

Recipe: Hello Little Home

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Cake with berries

Cranberry Bread with Orange Glaze

Real talk: Cranberry bread is basically cake, and this version has an orange glaze that might as well be frosting. But in addition to all the sugar poured into this recipe, there's plenty of orange juice and orange zest, giving the sweet side some much-needed acidic notes. 

Recipe: Natasha's Kitchen

Cranberry Muffins

Cranberry Muffins with Walnut Crumb Topping

Are you the kind of person who pays more attention to the crumbly muffin tops than the actual muffin? This cranberry muffin recipe does the top justice, featuring a crumb topping made from a sugary walnut mixture. The rest of the muffin sounds pretty delightful, too.  

Recipe: Food & Wine

Vintage Ambrosia Salad

Creamy Cranberry Salad

Don't let the "salad" label mislead you — there are no greens here. Instead, you'll find a mix of cranberries, crushed pineapple, apples, mini marshmallows, and whipped cream. Some call it a dessert, others consider it a respectable side dish. To each their own.

Recipe: Taste of Home

cranberry scone on black table
Kasemsan Chamrasamee/istockphoto

Cranberry Scones

Keep the Thanksgiving festivities rolling through breakfast with cranberry scones, a tart pastry made with frozen cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon, and other pantry staples. If someone has eaten all the Thanksgiving pie, at least you'll have a warm scone to have the morning after the holiday. 

Recipe: Earth Food and Fire

Boozy Holiday Cranberry Champagne Poinsettia Cocktail

Maple Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail

Let's drink our cranberries too, shall we? This cocktail requires that you make the maple cranberry syrup first, then mix it with bourbon, cranberry juice, and seltzer or club soda. Cheers!

Recipe: Inspired by Charm

Cinnabon buns with cranberry and orange glaze

Cranberry Orange Breakfast Buns

Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman equips her readers with everyday creative recipes that they'll come back to again and again. These ooey gooey cranberry orange breakfast buns are no exception. 

Recipe: Smitten Kitchen

Chicken with pecans and wild rice TV dinner in a plastic tray with a fork on the food atop a gray background

Wild Rice and Cider Cranberry Pilaf

Cranberries are an important component of this festive dish. Here, wild rice is combined with fresh apple cider, cinnamon, and cranberries for an oh-so-autumnal side.

Recipe: Country Living


Cranberry, Brussels Sprouts, and Brie Skillet Nachos

Hear us out: Cranberries can be part of a nacho recipe. Made with shredded Brussels sprouts, brie, and cranberry sauce, these Thanksgiving nachos are great for snacking on before the main feast.

Recipe: Pure Wow 

Sweet Homemade Apple Cranberry Tart

Cranberry Brie Pastry Tarts

Whether you're making these as an appetizer or an indulgent breakfast, it's hard to go wrong with tangy brie and sweet cranberries enveloped in a golden puff pastry. Bonus: Use frozen puff pastry — no need to make your own. 

Recipe: Half-Baked Harvest

Holiday stuffing with cranberries

Apple-Cranberry Stuffing

Got an extra loaf of white bread floating around? Put it to work in this apple-cranberry stuffing recipe — a hearty, sweet spin on traditional Thanksgiving stuffing. 

Recipe: The Pioneer Woman

Hot meatballs with cranberry sauce on white plate

Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs

A step above your every day meatballs, these spherical appetizers are given a boost with cranberry sauce, sweet chili sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.

Recipe: Delish

Pumpkin cranberry crisps

Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip

Take your leftover cranberry sauce and turn it into cranberry cream cheese dip, a smooth appetizer that pairs well with crackers and apples. This recipe uses a jalapeño for extra kick.

Recipe: Budget Bytes