Cranberry sauce is a staple on the holiday table. This red berry shares a plate with Thanksgiving turkey and peeks out from among Christmas baked goods. After those holidays, you’re probably just as familiar with that covered bowl of sauce in the fridge, tucked behind the other leftovers. The sweet, tart flavors of both jellied and whole berry cranberry sauce make it a great fit for desserts, savory dishes, and even a couple of tasty beverages. Take a look at the list below and get inspired on using this holiday classic in a whole new way.
1. Leftover Cranberry Sauce Bars Recipe
Let’s start off this list with an easy way to use this ingredient: Leftover Cranberry Sauce Bars. This simple recipe uses basic ingredients that you probably already have lying around in the kitchen. Just measure, stir, and bake. The bars turn out crusty, crunchy, and with just the right amount of chew. Best of all, this recipe packs in health-promoting ingredients like fiber-rich rolled oats and healthy fatty acids from the nuts. Not a fan of walnuts? You can substitute pecans and still keep that seasonal flavor.
2. Cranberry Barbecue Sauce
Sweet heat melts beautifully into tart fruits in an unforgettable BBQ sauce. Your Cranberry Barbecue Sauce starts with a base of cranberry sauce or jelly and ketchup and then adds layer after layer of tastebud-tingling flavors. The natural gel of the sauce helps all of these liquid ingredients hold together. The sauce packs a punch, livening up your favorite sandwiches or used for dipping veggies and chicken nuggets. It’s also got enough acid in it to marinate meat, making it tender and infusing the cut with flavor.
3. Martha Stewart’s Turkey Monte Cristo
Imagine this: you open the oven and four sandwiches emerge with a dramatic waft of steam. They’re substantial and golden brown. When you cut one in half, you get that Instagram-worthy cheese pull. Then you bite down and taste the flavors of Thanksgiving in a whole new way. The Monte Cristo, a brunch favorite, gets updated for a holiday brunch in this indulgent recipe. It serves 4, but you’ll only need half a cup of leftover cranberry sauce to create a creamy comfort food experience.
4. Brie Cranberry and Chicken Pizza
Cranberry sauce is traditionally used as a complement to savory dishes and meats. This Brie Cranberry and Chicken Pizza covers all of those bases, creating a non-traditional holiday dish that will really stand out on the dinner table. Think of it like an updated cheese plate served hot from the oven. With two different kinds of cheese, this is a pretty rich dish. However, a generous amount of leftover cranberry sauce (you can use either style) helps cut through the fats and adds pop to the creamy flavors.
5. Cranberry Sauce Smoothie
The price of frozen fruit tends to skyrocket in the winter. That’s a problem for people who love starting the day off with a creamy, satisfying breakfast smoothie. The solution: leftover cranberry sauce and a budget-friendly apple. Spoon your leftover sauce into an ice-cube tray and freeze solid. Then you can pop out a few cubes whenever you want a chilled smoothie. The tangy Greek yogurt in this recipe pairs well with tart cranberry sauce. Meanwhile, the fats and protein from the yogurt give the cranberry sauce smoothie some hunger-busting staying power.
6. Thanksgiving Cuban Sandwich
Are you tackling several different mountains of leftovers? Cursing the in-laws for not bringing a bigger appetite to Thanksgiving dinner? This Cuban Sandwich re-imagines leftover cranberry jam, turkey, and ham into a whole new dish. It calls for Cuban bread. Cuban bread is made with lard, making it heavier and richer than other varieties. If your local bakery is out, you can swap in French or Italian bread. Pile that baby high and bake it, weighed down, until the bread’s hot and crisp and the filling has melted together into a gooey meal for the family.
7. Banana Cranberry Bread
Banana bread is delicious and creamy, but it can also be a little heavy and one-note… until you throw in cranberry sauce! This recipe starts out exactly like you saw your Grandma make it, with walnuts, spices, and mashed bananas. Use bananas that are going dark to add a brown sugar or caramel flavor to the bread. The cranberry sauce adds a bold punch to this traditional comfort food. Whole berries soften even more during the baking, getting succulent when you bite down. If you’re working with cranberry jelly leftovers, add it in chunks so it doesn’t get completely blended away.
8. Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins with Oat Streusel Topping
Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins with Oat Streusel Topping adds seasonal flair to a basic recipe. The dough is tender and rich with butter and brown sugar. The oat streusel topping adds a crispy crunch to a soft muffin. Finally, the real star of this treat is the humble leftover sauce. The cranberry sauce is added at the very end and only lightly mixed. Every bite uncovers a pocket of bright, sweet flavor. These muffins are delicious when freshly baked and when they’ve had a few days for the cranberry flavors to infuse… if you can resist them for that long.
9. Cranberry Ginger Sparkling Punch
Maybe you don’t have a bit of cranberry sauce to get through after the holidays. Maybe it wasn’t a hit at the table and now you’re looking at a whole bowl of leftover berry goodness. In that case, Cranberry Ginger Sparkling Punch is for you. This drink, great for all ages, uses 28 ounces of jellied cranberry sauce and a whole bottle of Sprite or ginger ale. This simple concoction is elevated with an infusion of grated ginger. The lemony, spicy notes of ginger root make this a fresh take on a standard party punch.
10. Holiday Cranberry-Orange Crunch
These cookies may be named after the holidays, but the classic flavor combination of berry and orange is great any time of the year. Bar cookies are one of those treats that look finicky to make, but are actually quick and easy to throw together. The recipe here for Holiday Cranberry-Orange Crunch calls for fresh cranberries. However, you can easily swap that out for whole berry cranberry sauce. The final result will be bar cookies with a crisp bottom, a crumbly topping, and a succulent middle layer of bright, moist fruit.
11. Chicken With Cranberry Sauce
Are you scrambling to cook dinner with limited ingredients on hand? You need just four things for Chicken With Cranberry Sauce: chicken, French onion soup mix, cranberry sauce, and Catalina salad dressing. If you’re out of that last item, you can make this dressing from scratch by whisking together red wine vinegar, ketchup, oil, salt, and optional seasonings like onion powder or paprika. The cranberry sauce has a similar taste profile to the Catalina dressing: sweet, tart, and pleasantly piquant. Together, this power couple can add interest to the flavor of basic chicken breasts.
13. Cranberry-Basil Baked Brie
Turn your leftover cranberry sauce into a showstopper of a side dish with Cranberry-Basil Baked Brie. This is a simple recipe, but home cooks don’t need a long list of ingredients when you’re using quality, flavor-packed food. As the wheel of brie bakes, the cranberry garnish on top heats and bubbles, infusing everything with bright flavor. You’ll want to serve this hot alongside crackers or toast points. Your guests won’t want to wait to dig into the molten goodness that spills out when you slice into the wheel.
13. Spiced Tea Poached Pears
Cranberry sauce has a powerful tartness. In a dish with only a few ingredients, it can overwhelm the plate. You really need some flavors that will balance the cranberries out and add depth. The black tea in Spiced Tea Poached Pears adds a dark jammy quality. This brings out the subtle sweetness of a simple poached pear. As the ingredients simmer away in a Dutch oven, magic happens. The pear will get butter-soft and take on the flavor of the stronger sauce it’s drenched in. This dish is a showstopper drizzled with crème fraiche and orange zest.
14. Cranberry Hot Wings
Sticky. Savory. Sweet. Satisfying. Cranberries and hot wings are one of those pairings so natural that you’ll wonder why they aren’t offered at every restaurant during the holiday season. Here, the chicken wings get upgraded with a mix of funky blue cheese dressing, tart jellied cranberry sauce, fiery hot pepper sauce, and a bit of added sweetness from the honey. Do you like it spicier or sweeter? You can easily play around with the proportions and create your own family take on this evergreen recipe.
15. Cranberry Meatballs
Cranberry Meatballs? With jellied cranberry sauce? This unusual flavor combination has a lot going for it. Cranberries add moisture and a succulent tartness to turkey, right? Well, they also make ground beef moister and easier to work with. The sweet-sour flavor helps balance out the fat in the beef, too. Why go with jellied sauce? Along with the eggs, the jelly works as a binder. If you’ve had trouble with your meatballs turning into meat hash, your leftover cranberry sauce may be a secret weapon to pulling the recipe off.
16. Jazz Up Canned Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Instead of making a completely new dish, why not give your leftover cranberry sauce a jazz up? The Jazz Up Canned Cranberry Sauce recipe adds a touch of spice, sugar, and butter to jellied cranberry sauce. However, the real magic here comes from another fruit. You can use any kind of diced apple in this recipe, and that gives you versatility. For a sweeter and more colorful sauce, look for Golden Delicious or Gala apples. If you want more of a bite with your cranberries, try Granny Smith apples.
17. Canned Cranberry Sauce Recipe
What if you love the idea of a jazzed up side dish, but you’ve got whole berry cranberry sauce left over from the holidays? This Canned Cranberry Sauce recipe’s for you. It adds depth and richness with a blend of spices, and chopped nuts complement the firmer texture of the whole berries. This sauce also incorporates orange juice and zest into the mix, adding brightness and tang. You can play around with different kinds of oranges here, too. Blood oranges might add a deeper, sophisticated flavor, while clementines lean on the sweeter side of citrus.
18. Instant Pot Cranberry Orange Pork and Cabbage
What do pork loin and turkey have in common? Both are leaner meats that can easily get dry, and both have a very mild flavor. Cranberry sauce pairs well with pork for the same reason as turkey; it bumps up the moisture in your dish and adds a twist of taste. This dish features plenty of flavor and a generous amount of chopped cabbage and onions. It’s a hearty dinner for those evenings when you don’t have the time to slave over the stove. Prep the ingredients, throw them in the Instant Pot, and let that gadget work its magic.
19. Instant Pot Cranberry Chipotle Chicken
Not a big fan of pork? Chicken is another easy pairing with your leftover cranberry sauce. This recipe works well with both the jellied and whole berry sauce varieties. Here you’re pressure cooking relatively bland chicken meat with a seriously flavorful adobo and cranberry sauce blend. Are the dried and smoked peppers in adobo sauce a little too much for you? You can easily swap in some smoked paprika or other mild peppers to get that same deep sweetness with a more manageable level of heat.
20. Leftover Turkey Spring Rolls with Cranberry Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
If you’re an adventurous home cook in the mood for some fusion cuisine, Leftover Turkey Spring Rolls may be for you. It’s a great way to hit multiple leftovers. After all, if you have leftover cranberry sauce to use up, you probably have leftover turkey lying around, too. The cranberries are a natural fit for a sweet and sour dipping sauce. Pro tip: use rice wrappers if you’re deep frying, but switch to wheat-based wrappers if you’re baking them. They stay softer when baked.
21. Cranberry Sauce Mojitos
A lot of the recipes here call for generous amounts of leftover cranberry sauce. What if you and the family really dug in and there’s only a few spoons left? Take a look at Cranberry Sauce Mojitos. These bright and tart drinks combine the flavors of cranberry, lime, and mint leaves. It may sound like a tropical combination, but the green lime slices and red cranberries will still look seasonal in a clear glass. You can use this recipe as-is, or swap out the rum and ginger beer for ginger ale.
22. Apple Crisp with Cranberry Sauce
Apple Crisp with Cranberry Sauce is a versatile dish that works as a feel-good breakfast and a tasty dessert. This particular recipe uses several Granny Smith apples to double down on the tart, fruity flavors of the cranberry sauce itself. This refreshing, fruit-based dish really stands out in a sea of ultra-indulgent holiday meals. If you aren’t sold on the sour-on-sour flavor profile, don’t worry. Its crispy topping is sweetened with cinnamon and brown sugar, and a generous amount of butter helps the flavors melt together.
23. Stuffing Waffle Grilled Cheese With Thanksgiving Leftovers
Channel your inner culinary mad scientist with this Stuffing Waffle Grilled Cheese. The genius here is that all of these softer leftovers you may be working with – turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry jelly – get a crispy new makeover. Your waffle griddle will turn the stuffing into a golden, savory ‘bread,’ and the other ingredients get layered in like a sandwich. If your stuffing’s on the dry side, you may find that it’s falling apart on the waffle iron. In that case, mix in some of the mashed potatoes to help everything stick together.
24. Golden Sweet Onion Cornbread
Classic cornbread can get a little dry. A little crumbly. A little basic. Right? This recipe turns all those old assumptions on their heads with a fun Southwest-inspired twist. Golden Sweet Onion Cornbread is light, bright, and will leave your tongue begging for more. You’ll use green chilis, Jalapenos, onion, and buttermilk to layer up the flavor. It’s best served straight from the hot skillet with cranberry butter. The butter combines whole berry cranberry sauce with lime zest. It pairs well with other dishes like fish tacos.
25. Cranberry Horseradish Pan-fried Steak
Does this sound like an unlikely flavor combination? Don’t dismiss it just yet. Horseradish has a famously intense, peppery flavor. It adds mouth-watering interest to dishes but can easily overwhelm the other ingredients. When you mix in cranberry sauce, the juicy fruity flavors bring balance. The secret to pulling off this recipe? Get a good sear on the steaks. Those browned, crunchy bits will help hold onto the sauce you’ll eventually smear it with. That way, you won’t lose most of the delicious glaze in the baking pan.
26. Rosemary-Port Cranberry Sauce
A lot of the cranberry sauce recipes out there are on the rustic side of cooking. What if you’re looking for more mature, sophisticated flavors? Rosemary-Port Cranberry Sauce may look like a jello mold from the 1950s, but the flavors are very modern. Swap in cranberry sauce for the frozen cranberries and you’ll have an easier time getting the other ingredients, like port wine and Grand Marnier, to gel. It’s one of the most unique dishes on this list, and may impress even a picky foodie at your dinner table.
27. Day After Thanksgiving Cookies
With just fifteen minutes’ cooking time, these cookies are easy to throw in the oven even if you’re worn out from the big Thanksgiving bake-a-thon. They stay chewy and don’t harden up thanks to oats, a bit of pumpkin pie filling, and whole berry cranberry sauce. If you have more sauce than the recipe calls for, try making a double batch. These cookies freeze well and you can pull some out for on-the-spot cookies whenever you have the urge to revisit the holiday season.
28. Cranberry Sauce Crepes
This is simple. Make crepes (see our crepe recipe here) and use cranberry sauce as the filling.