Food & Cooking Blog

14 Ways to Use Cranberries (That Aren’t Cranberry Sauce)

News flash: cranberries are good for more than just cranberry sauce. 

Cranberries on a plate

Photo via CakeSpy

True, the tart little berry’s most famous culinary role at this time of year is as part of the famous Thanksgiving side. But it’s really quite a shame, because they have so much to offer to so many recipes, both sweet and savory! 

Discover 14 stellar ways to use cranberries, from classic to quite unexpected uses! 

1. DIY dried cranberries

Dried cranberries

The dried cranberries sold in most stores are typically over-sweetened and too hard in texture. By making your own dried cranberries, you’re in control of the flavor and the sweetness factor. Make these DIY dried cranberries to use in several of the recipes below, or simply enjoy them as a snack! 

2. Cranberry ketchup

Cranberry ketchup

Photo via Coconut & Lime

For an unusual yet delicious condiment that can be used at Thanksgiving and well beyond, consider cranberry ketchup. The clever recipe featured on the Coconut & Lime blog features fresh cranberries, sugar, and a melange of seasonings. There’s also a cranberry-tangerine ketchup variation! 

3. Pickled cranberries 

Pickled Cranberries in Mason Jar

Pickled cranberries are sweet, sour, and completely addictive! The bracing addition of vinegar makes pickled cranberries a great contrast to rich foods; they can be served as a side or used like a condiment. 

Try our easy recipe for pickled cranberries!

4. Candied cranberries

While there are a few approaches to making candied cranberries, I like this easy oven method. Simply place 2 cups of washed, fresh cranberries in an even layer in a baking dish, and sprinkle 1 cup of granulated sugar on top. Cover the dish, and bake at 350 F for about one hour. Chill before serving. I like to dust them with confectioners’ sugar for a pretty finish before serving. These make a great garnish for baked goods! 

5. Cranberry curd

You already know and love lemon curd… why not give its sweet-tart cousin, cranberry curd, a try? Cranberry curd is easy to make and yields a beautiful, ruby-toned tart filling or an elegant spread for muffins and scones at your next brunch.

6. Add cranberries to salad

Cranberries can make a great addition to salads. For instance, a salad composed of frisee or mixed greens, goat cheese, sliced pears and balsamic vinaigrette tastes great with a handful of dried cranberries. 

7. Cranberry chicken

Cranberries don’t just pair with turkey! Chicken dishes are elevated from mere dinner to creative culinary creation with the addition of zingy cranberries. This recipe features curried chicken which is augmented with a sauce made from both fresh and dried cranberries. 

8. Cranberry pot roast

Next time you make a pot roast, consider adding a generous handful (or up to 12 ounces) of cranberries to your braising liquid. It will impart a unique flavor on the meat, and the slow cooking process will mellow the flavor of the cranberries. Everyone wins! 

Start with this basic pot roast recipe on the Craftsy blog!

9. Quick breads, muffins, cookies and pancakes 

Cranberry sauce muffins

Photo via In Erika’s Kitchen

Cranberries — dried cranberries, or fresh, or even leftover cranberry sauce — can make a great addition to quick breads, muffins, cookies and pancakes. You can substitute dried cranberries for raisins or blueberries in most aforementioned recipes, or simply fold a handful into a plain recipe. You’ll be delighted by the results! This recipe for cranberry sauce muffins, featured on the blog In Erika’s Kitchen, is a great starting point.

10. Cranberry pistachio orange Lära-style bars

Cranberry pistachio lara bars

Photo via Use Real Butter

Technically, this is not a flavor offered by the brand Lärabar, but it is inspired by their model of simplicity and “real food” ingredients. In this beautiful recipe featured on the blog Use Real Butter, dates, cranberries, pistachios, and orange zest come together to form energy bars that taste just as good as dessert! 

11. Cranberry walnut crumb cake 

Cranberry walnut crumb cake

Photo via The Domestic Rebel

Looking for a show-stopping yet slightly non-traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert? Look no further than this beautiful creation by The Domestic Rebel. This buttery cake, augmented with juicy cranberries and topped with an irresistibly crunchy walnut streusel, is the stuff that holiday dreams are made of!

12. Cranberry pecan pie

Cranberry pecan pie

Photo via CakeSpy

Dare I say it: pecan pie can be, at times, too sweet. Luckily, cranberries can be the antidote! Adding some dried cranberries to your next pecan pie recipe can add just the element of tart contrast the pie needs to have dimension and remain memorable rather than tooth-searingly sweet. 

13. Cranberry rice krispie balls

Rice krispie balls

Need a quick hostess gift or dessert course for the holidays? This simple recipe starts with a Rice Krispies Treat–esque mixture which is augmented with tart cranberries and formed into festive orbs which are ideal for cookie swaps, dinner parties or an easy hostess gift at your next holiday party.

14. Cranberry-orange cocktails

Cranberry cocktails

From Cosmos to sangria to a festive Moscow Mule, we’ve got you covered with cranberry cocktails that will make your holiday season extra bright. Cranberries are the star of the show in these deliciously abrasive cocktail recipes! 

Check out this trio of cocktail recipes featuring cranberry-infused vodka!

What’s your favorite cranberry (non-sauce) recipe? 

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