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classic cranberry sauce

Ramona King

Classic Cranberry Sauce

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12 sweet-tart cranberry recipes perfect for Thanksgiving and every other fall holiday feast

If you've been to the market lately you'll probably notice that gloriously rubied bags of cranberries are finally back. Far from the overly sweet and subtly tart cranberry juice of your youth, cranberries in their raw form are incredibly punchy and sour and make themselves known in any dish they're in. 

Because of their robust flavor, it can be difficult to figure out what to do with cranberries besides the traditional Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Not to worry — in this recipe round-up, we've gathered together a dozen of our absolute favorite cranberry based dishes and cocktails that you can use all season long. (Including a few Thanksgiving-friendly sauces and relishes.)

Classic Cranberry Sauce
If you've only ever had the stuff in a can, welcome to the upgrade. No offense to a generational classic but once you've actually had freshly made cranberry sauce you'll probably never go back. It's much more simple than it looks and features a freshly zested orange and its juice, grated ginger and sugar. This is the kind of recipe you'll make for no reason other than that it's simply delicious. 
Get the recipePickled Cranberry Relish
Cranberry sauce not your thing? Try out this recipe for cranberry relish that features Granny Smith apples. In addition to adding a level of sweetness, the Granny Smiths also mellow out the naturally tart flavors of cranberries and help even out the other flavors of this condiment. You'll notice this recipe also uses a fair amount of apple cider vinegar, but don't be afraid — it add a nice zippy element to the relish. 
Get the recipeLeftover Turkey Sandwich on Dressing Waffles
Is there anything better than leftover turkey at Thanksgiving? Yes there is: Taking that turkey and putting it on buttermilk waffles. This is the post-holiday breakfast to end them all. It also call for a healthy helping of cranberry sauce, which is super convenient because you'll likely have leftovers of that, too. 
Get the recipeTurkey Hushpuppies with Cranberry Aioli
Oh look, another way to use up leftover turkey! These fried turkey bites are a gift to mankind. Made with bits of turkey, celery, cornbread and sage, these hushpuppies are fried in bacon grease and dipped in a deliciously tart cranberry aioli that takes just five minutes to whip together. 
Get the recipeCast Iron White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies
For this recipe you're going to need your favorite cast iron skillet, brown sugar, vanilla extract, white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. The dried cranberries in this dessert help to add a punch to what could be an overly sweet dish, and they help make it absolutely ooey-gooey decadent, especially when served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Get the recipe Apple Cranberry Crisp
This recipe is just one of those cozy feel-good desserts you absolutely must make at least once this year. In addition to making your home smell like a cinnamon love bomb went off inside, it is a great way to combine multiple fall fruits into one cohesive dessert. Since cranberries are naturally tart, we prefer a slightly sweeter baking apple, such as Braeburn, Honeycrisp or Jonagold.
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Oaks Lily Cocktail
One of three traditional Derby beverages, the Oaks Lily Cocktail is the lighter vodka-based answer to the famous Mint Julep. It's a slightly sweeter riff on a cosmopolitan; however, the sweetness is tempered by the tartness of the cranberry juice. In addition to being absolutely gorgeous, this sipper is one that will leave you feeling festive and certainly in a cheery spirit. 
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Cranberry Fizz
If vodka is a little too strong for you, this effervescent drink is a less booze-forward option. Originally created to feature the bitter marasca cherries from Northern Italy, we've revamped this fizz using far-easier-to-find fresh cranberries. Poaching them in simple syrup tempers some of their natural tartness, making the drink more cohesive.
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Want even more cranberry recipes? Head here:
Bourbon Pecan Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Cranberry-Apple Crumble
Spiced Berry Glazed Pecans

Photo (pickled relish): Maura Friedman
All other photos: Ramona King


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Ryan Hughley is the editor-in-chief at Southern Kitchen. Though originally from Los Angeles, she has lived in Atlanta since early 2017 and cannot imagine calling any other city home (except maybe New Orleans). Before joining Southern Kitchen's staff, Ryan worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on public policy issues. When she's not at work, she enjoys hunting down the best Mexican food in the city and drinking whiskey, obviously. 

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