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Use for cranberries that ISN'T sauce

So I bought cranberries (just your basic Ocean Spray bag) in preparation to make cranberry sauce. But now my cousin is making it so I have a bag of cranberries to use for something. Doesn't need to be Thanksgiving related, I can use them afterwards. Can be either sweet or savory.

So, what's your favorite ways to use cranberries that ISN'T in sauce?

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  1. I like them in muffins and quick breads. Better if they're coarsely chopped, because a whole one can be a bit much tart in one bite. I find that the easiest way to chop is frozen berries pulsed a few times in the food processor. They can go into batters frozen with no problem.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      I'm particularly fond of cranberry-walnut-lemon muffins. Lemon zest for flavour, and if you want, a sugar lemon-juice slurry drizzed over the top the moment they come out of the oven.

      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        I used to make a cranberry-orange bread - hadn't thought about it in years. It's the Better Homes Gardens New Cookbook -- the red-and-white plaid one. (and "New" is a giggle -- I bought mine in 1989 for my kitchen, as my mom wasn't going to part with her 1965 version....)

        1. Yup - another vote for a quick bread. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of recipes for breads utilizing fresh cranberries. My favorites always involve oranges as well. Do a websearch on "Cranberry Orange Bread". You'll be inundated with great recipes.

          In fact, if I have the time I try to alway make a loaf the day before Thanksgiving that hubby & I can enjoy - shmeered with whipped cream cheese - for breakfast before the hard-core cooking commences.

          (In fact, do a search right here on Chowhound - they have a good-looking recipe for "Cranberry Orange Quick Bread".)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bacardi1

            Cranberry-Orange bread with a schmear of cream cheese, +1. I could eat a whole loaf.

          2. Make an apple crisp with cranberries mixed into the apples.

            1. as previous posters have said, they're great in quick breads.
              other options:
              - corn bread
              - dark chocolate & cranberry tart
              - biscotti
              - oatmeal cookies
              - cheesecake
              - sorbet
              - chutney
              - BBQ sauce
              - with sautéed brussels sprouts or green beans
              - in a glaze or reduction for duck, pork or salmon
              - in a couscous, quinoa or rice pilaf with toasted nuts, fresh mint & crumbled feta or goat cheese
              - in stuffing

              1. I've only made this once (only because I ran out of cranberries) but I would highly recommend it! Crustless cranberry walnut pie


                5 Replies
                1. re: geminigirl

                  I made this cranberry walnut "pie" for our dessert with Christmas dinner this year. A huge hit! Thank you for sharing this link. Incredibly easy and it got rave reviews. It's definitely going to be a recipe that I make again.

                  1. re: masha

                    I'm so glad you enjoyed it, I've stocked up on cranberres and looking forward to making it again soon! I love things that are so simple, and so good.

                  2. re: geminigirl

                    Love that "pie".

                    I also love the Butterscotch Cranberry Bars from Gourmet 1981. I found a reference and it looks the same. The bars do not taste like butterscotch to me, but like the pie great contrast of sweet and tart.

                    1. re: geminigirl

                      I'm trying this tonight, but substituting white carbalose flour, reducing it and maybe adding some liquid, and mixing sugar alcohols with some sucralose liquid. Will report back on the low carb version...

                      1. re: mcf

                        Okay, so the taste was very good, but I had two quality issues caused by my need to modify for low carb... the erythritol still had too much cooling effect, will blend with it, sweetzfree and some xylitol next time. The other issue was texture; because carbalose has so much fiber, you need to use less to avoid baking a dry brick... I think I needed to use a bit more than I did, it didn't hold together well. Really, tasty and easy, though, thanks, GG! Your comment about the almond extract was dead on, too. Very key to the taste.

                    2. All leftover cranberries are made into cranberry bars.
                      shortbread base, homemade cranberry sauce leftover, oatmeal streusel topping, baked.

                      1. How about something savory? I used this as a start, changed to a pork loin but my family loved it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. Thanks all, I like the quick bread idea. I looked up the Chow recipe for it and saved it. We're travelling to see BF's family (5 hour drive) for Christmas so a bread would be easy to take with us versus something more... delicate.

                          breakfastfan, that pork recipe looks really delicious. Do you think it could be done with pork chops? I have a ton of them in the freezer. I'd imagine if I used chops I'd have to reduce the cooking time? They're about 3/4 to 1" thick. I've never actually used a crockpot but we do have a smaller one, 3 quarts I think.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: juliejulez

                            Having used this exactly the first time and now adapting it with several variations, I'm sure you can use the chops. And if you wanted to do an oven braise instead of slow cooker I believe it would work. The flavor is in the apples and cranberry mix so just try it and see what works. Family keeps asking for it and now I put a few bags of fresh cranberries in freezer for use when the stores don't carry them.

                          2. I've always used surplus cranberries in cranberry almond scones or biscotti.

                            1. I have not made this recipe yet, but it is something I want to try. It looks so delicious and the five spice powder is an interesting touch! I see that you are going to be traveling for the holidays, and bundt cakes usually travel very well, and stay moist.


                              1. I make my own cranberry vodka for holiday gifts. I infuse good quality vodka with fresh cranberries and lime. I then put in decorative bottles and tie on labels with a cosmo recipe.

                                3 Replies
                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                    Or infuse the vodka and then add simple syrup to taste for cranberry liqueur. Since I can never leave well enough alone, I would include orange zest and vanilla in the steeping stage. I've also enjoyed star anise with cranberry.

                                  2. String them together and hang them on the Christmas tree... It's an old tradition.

                                    1. And don't forget they freeze very well, so you don't have to rush to cook them.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sr44


                                        I buy several bags when they're on sale for 99 cents right before the holiday and then have them all year long. You don't even have to repackage them, just stack the bags in the back corner of the freezer and they're good to go.

                                      2. I've made an apple and cranberry pie a few times. I think I use about maybe 1:3 ratio of cranberries to apples. I believe I got the recipe from either Martha Stewart or Bon Appetit about 12-14 years ago. It's always been a big hit, the cranberries provide a nice tartness.

                                        It's been so long that I just sorta add cranberries to the apple mixture until it looks right.

                                        1. Cranberry upside down cake. I haven't made this myself (I generally don't bake), but I've always wanted to make one of these.


                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: valerie

                                            I did this once with an orange cake from one of Nigella Lawson's cookbooks (not the one where you boil the oranges for a while, IIRC).

                                          2. I've made variations on these recipes (red cabbage with cranberries, and kale with cranberries):


                                            1. Okay, totally outside the box...fill a vase with cranberries, add water, and fresh flowers...voila, something lovely for the Thanksgiving table.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: critter101

                                                Same here. I just fill a slender vase with cranberries and use them to hold birch branches in place.

                                                1. re: critter101

                                                  I put them in glass cylinders and stick votives in them.

                                                2. Toss with a little sugar and cinnamon, then add to apple cake, banana bread, zucchini bread, in lieu of blueberries in muffins.

                                                  1. try this cranberry-apple cobbler. It's a frequent visitor at our house during cranberry season, and I always put a couple of bags in the freezer to have it a few more times during the winter. I also add about 2 T of frozen OJ concentrate to the fruit mixture.


                                                    1. Cranberry-almond shortbread tart

                                                      Chocolate-cranberry-pecan pie

                                                      2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                          an infusion? Sounds nice -- ready-made Cape Cod!

                                                      1. My little boy and I both love cranberry sorbet. I use David Lebovitz's recipe.

                                                        1. They make wonderful targets for sighting in an air rifle from about 20 yards. They also make good bait in rat traps.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: ricepad

                                                            haha! you sound like a hater.

                                                            i chop them in the food pro, as mentioned up-thread, then use in oatmeal cookies, or in blondies with white chocolate chips added. have cooked them down into a compote with orange and ginger and used that on crumb cake, between the cake and streusel layer.

                                                            i prefer their tartness and use them instead of craisins almost always.

                                                          2. I make Martha Stewart's cranberry tart in a nut crust, from ENTERTAINING.

                                                            1. I enjoy using Beard on Bread
                                                              there is easy cranberry bread

                                                                1. My first instinct with fruit or evg is to turn them into a chutney or pickle.

                                                                  They also go well in braised red cabbage, in place of the more usual apple.

                                                                  But my favourite thing is cranberry & onion confit which is great with cold meats or terrines.

                                                                  1. I've made a simple cranberry cake with a sauce made of butter/brown sugar/cream/cinnamon to rave reviews. It's from Marcia Adam's book, Cooking from Quilt Country: Hearty Recipes from Amish and Mennonite Kitchens.

                                                                    I'm going to try this David Tanis recipe for a brown sugar cranberry tart next week. It looks fabulous:

                                                                    1. I've made a delicious cranberry and portobello stew. It reminded me of bourguignon.

                                                                      I also like adding them to squash and Brussels sprouts and roasting them. Yum!


                                                                      1. Cranberry-port post roast. Many versions online but I like this one from Sunset magazine, I think it was in the mid-90s:

                                                                        There's a recipe in the Nov issue of Better homes & Gardens that we liked as well, a kale salad with roasted cranberries: Toss 2 cups fresh cranberries with 5 cloves of garlic (unpeeled) and a bit of olive oil. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast in a 375 oven for 20-25 minutes or until garlic is soft and berries are browned and wrinkly.

                                                                        Cool; remove peel from garlic, mash or chop fine, and combine with 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 T Dijon mustard, 2 tsp shredded lemon peel, salt & pepper to make a dressing. In a large bowl combine roasted cranberries with 4 cups chopped kale; 2 cups cooked wild rice; 1 small bulb of fennel, shaved; 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet red pepper; 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion; and 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped.

                                                                        1. We love these. They pop when you bite into them and are so pretty and delicious. My twenty something year old kids request these every year:

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: cookingandbaking

                                                                            Those look right up my alley. Thanks for the link!

                                                                            1. re: cookingandbaking

                                                                              Yes, thank for the tip. I've got a batch of these marinating as I type!

                                                                              1. re: cookingandbaking

                                                                                One question Cookingandbaking, since you've made these before.

                                                                                The recipe says to store "in a cool place". Does the refrigerator count, or is that too cool/too humid an environment?

                                                                              2. Cranberry Potroast from Pacific Northwest Flavors Cookbook its amazing, I look forward to it every year when the cranberries come out:) I love that Pinot/Cranberry Sauce so much I'm making that for Thanksgiving this year.

                                                                                1. raw cranberries are actually VERY healthful...I like to combine them (in a blender) with a sweeter berry, say (frozen) strawberries or blueberries and add to Greek yogurt with ground flax seed. That's another way to go without putting them into breads/cakes/muffins.

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Val

                                                                                    We keep frozen cranberries to make smoothies - same as above but add your favorite liquid and blend (cranberries, another frozen berry of your choice, greek yoghurt, ground flax seed, liquid). We tend to use either orange juice or almond milk depending on our mood.

                                                                                    1. re: Linda_W

                                                                                      heck, yes...on days I don't have or want yogurt, almond milk it is!!! And like you, I keep frozen cranberries when fresh aren't available...berries are great frozen, not much is lost nutritionally, a win-win situation!

                                                                                      1. re: Val

                                                                                        i keep them in the freezer year-round too. i just bought three huge bags at Costco while they still have them. at $2.99 for 3 lbs i can't resist stocking up!

                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                          I always have them in the freezer year round.

                                                                                  2. There is a pie that has become a family favorite since I "discovered" it on a page of crumpled newspaper that was part of the packing material in a shipment received at a shop where I used to work. That was around 20 years ago now, and it is nearly always present at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The pie is called "Cape Cod October Pie", and contains cranberries, apples, raisins and walnuts, under a nice lattice crust. It's delicious,and looks beautiful too!

                                                                                    I once made a cranberry jam that I then used as accompaniment to a sausage-stuffed pork loin that was roasted in the smoker (not smoked, but rather cooked at higher heat). I enjoyed it and thought it complimented the pork very well. Unfortunately, it was a bit "outside the box" for many attending the church dinner where it was served. Those who tried it liked it, but many just looked at me funny, and passed on the cranberries.

                                                                                    My mom has been making a simple cranberry-orange relish since I was a child, and I still have to have it on my Thanksgiving table. It is simply cranberries, a whole orange, and sugar to taste, chopped in a grinder (old days) or a food processor (modern way).

                                                                                    1. I make this every year. It takes your store bought rolls to another level and is great for breakfast on toast the next day.

                                                                                      Cranberry Butter
                                                                                      Bon Appetit, November, 1991

                                                                                      3/4 cup fresh cranberries
                                                                                      6 Tbl. powdered sugar
                                                                                      2 tsp. grated lemon peel
                                                                                      1 cup (2 sticks) butter

                                                                                      Coarsely chop cranberries with sugar and lemon peel in processor, using on/off. Add softened butter and blend until mixture is combined but slightly chunky. May be prepared one week ahead. Serve at room temperature.

                                                                                        1. Due mostly to their being the only food products left in my fridge, I made a ground beef, cranberry, sweet potato, and caramelized onion pot pie two nights ago. I sauteed a lot of onion very thoroughly, until goopy and slightly browned in a few spots, made a thick, rich roux-based gravy with good butter, added raw ground beef and raw sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped small) a pinch of brown sugar and a handful of cranberries, and baked at 375 for 40 minutes covered, then uncovered until the biscuits browned on top. The biscuits tasted good, but they were sort of ugly, so I'd probably not add them until uncovering the pot next time. The sweetness from the potatoes and onions balanced the cranberries really well, and they popped open and got really soft, so it wasn't an overwhelming hit of tartness when you bit into one. I liked it so much that I will probably make it again on purpose.

                                                                                          1. this is 'sauce', but...
                                                                                            We spread leftover cranberry sauce on top of meatloaf before it goes into the oven to bake in a pie pan.
                                                                                            Sometimes the leftover sauce goes into the meatloaf mix and it's baked inside the meatloaf.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Cynsa

                                                                                              Back in the '70s, my girlfriend's mother made what I think she called Sweet and Sour Meatballs, and the sauce was simply cranberry sauce and ketchup heated up and melted. AND IT WAS SO GOOD.

                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                I've made those meatballs for office pot luck...some people use grape jelly but I like the cranberry sauce way better. The meatballs disappear!

                                                                                              1. Cranberries are great in combination with lemon rind and lemon juice in a pound cake type of environment.

                                                                                                Also you can use in stuffing for meats. New England pot roast recipes have cranberry sauce in them, make the sauce and add to your pot roast recipe.

                                                                                                1. I stock up on cranberries when they're on sale and put them in the freezer. Then mostly I make the following, which is based on something my mother used to make. (She used her meat grinder for this.) Put 2 cups of cranberries and 1 orange (skin and all, but maybe cut off the thick ends), quartered, into your food processor. Process until fine but not total mush. Put in a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of Sucanat (or other sugar). Let sit for an hour. Keeps well. I love it on toast, but it could be used as a relish with a meal.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Cilantra

                                                                                                    Cranberry Relish- my Mom made it, too. I love it on my turkey sandwich. The recipe used to on the cranberry package, but I haven't looked in a while.

                                                                                                  2. I add as much a one half cup of cranberries to every fruit pie that I am making. It perfectly offset the super sweetness of the other fruits and honey.
                                                                                                    I have also used cranberries successfully by mixing them with the pecans that I am caramelizing to top pumpkin or sweet potato pies.

                                                                                                    1. sweet & sour cranberry cabbage rolls

                                                                                                      I use fresh cranberries + sugar in place of the canned sauce in recipes like these ones:

                                                                                                      1. My wife makes a great cranberry relish/salad that is tart and delicious. She chops cranberries along with some walnuts and orange zest and a pinch of salt. Great condiment to have around, especially when the other dishes are rich. If you want to sweeten it, it's good with some sugar too. Enjoy.

                                                                                                        1. My favorite use is to throw the bag into the freezer so fresh cranberries can be enjoyed out of season, when they are near impossible to find. They are wonderful with a cold roast chicken on a hot summer day, either made into sauce or cranberry-orange relish (1 bag cranberries, 1 whole orange, peel and all, 1 cup of sugar, chopped fine together in Cuisinart). Variously, you can make cranberry-orange relish now and freeze that as it will stay good forever in the freezer.

                                                                                                            1. re: KellBell

                                                                                                              That does look good. And even more important for a non-baker like myself - EASY! Thanks!