Cranberry sauce is almost as essential to your Thanksgiving dinner as the turkey itself! Whether you like it sweet, tart, or even a little spicy (like Ree Drummond's hot pepper cranberry sauce), this Thanksgiving side dish is a must-have at any holiday table. But what happens when the dinner is over and you realize that you'vee made just a bit too much cranberry sauce? Don't worry, Thanksgiving leftovers are what Ree calls "one of the best parts!" And, to make things even more exciting, there are so many creative ways to use leftover cranberry sauce!
So how do you like your cranberry sauce? Me, I'll pretty much take it any way I can get it. But I find that homemade cranberry sauce, more tart than sweet, where the berries are totally softened yet mostly intact, is my favorite. I wanted to leave my cranberries mostly whole, but you can cook the sauce longer and with more liquid, for a more saucy kind of cranberry sauce.
So now that you have the means for cranberry sauce leftovers, let's hit it: Here are 25 cranberry recipes that use leftover cranberry sauce!
Let's start off right away with the morning after the Thanksgiving feast. Because breakfast loves cranberries.
1. I adore fresh fruit sauces swirled into a bowl of yogurt and granola. In the bowl above, I blitzed some of the cranberry sauce with an immersion blender and swirled it into vanilla bean yogurt. Then I topped it off with some of the whole cranberries from the sauce and my favorite homemade granola.
2. Use the cranberry sauce as a filling for sweet rolls. Spread the sauce over the rolled-out dough leaving about a 1/2-inch from the edge. Roll up the dough and when it's done baking, top with a cream cheese glaze.
3. Use the cranberry sauce for filling in homemade Pop Tarts.
5. Or make a simple maple cranberry syrup by heating some of the cranberry sauce with pure maple syrup in a saucepan on the stovetop. Then spoon it over your favorite breakfast pancakes, waffles, or French toast.
6. Stir the cranberry sauce into a bowl of steaming oatmeal or steel-cut oats, or into overnight oats.
7. Make cranberry butter for your favorite muffins or breakfast breads by beating together butter, a little cranberry sauce, fresh orange zest, and a touch of almond extract.
8. Top a toasted bagel or English muffin with cream cheese and a shmear of cranberry sauce.
There are also many ways to incorporate cranberry sauce into drinks.
9. This smoothie, another morning-after recipe, couldn't be easier to make. In a blender, combine 1 cup fresh-pressed apple cider, 1-1/2 cups cranberry sauce, 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup yogurt, and a dash of cinnamon. Blend until combined. Makes two large servings. Even though our family is big on fruit smoothies, they were at first skeptical of this one with cranberries. But. They were very quickly convinced, saying they liked the spiced tartness. You can bet we'll be making more of these!
10. Add a spoon of sweet/tart cranberry sauce to a tall glass with ice and pour in cold and bubbly club soda. Muddle and stir to combine, for a refreshing homemade soda.
11. Swirl a spoon of blitzed cranberry sauce into a vodka or gin cocktail with tonic water over ice. Or stir a bit of the bright sauce into your favorite margarita!
12. This crostini appetizer is an easy before-dinner nibble that's so very pretty, and perfect for a holiday starter. Simply toast your favorite baguette or smaller bread under the broiler until just crisp, and then let cool. Top with softened cream cheese or goat cheese, followed by a bit of cranberry sauce (I really like the whole berries for this, so pretty!), fresh orange zest, and fresh thyme leaves. Crack a bit of black pepper over the top to finish them off.
13. Use cranberry sauce for these cranberry brie bites. They're flaky, cheesy, tart, and perfect for any holiday party of the season.
14. One of my very favorite uses for leftover cranberry sauce involves meatballs. In a large skillet, heat 1 cup cranberry sauce, 12 ounces chili sauce, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Fold in a 22-ounce bag of your favorite frozen cooked homestyle meatballs, thawed. Stir every now and then, until heated through. Top with chopped fresh parsley, if you like a little touch of fancy. Serve as a main entree with mashed potatoes or as an appetizer with party picks. This simple recipe delivers big flavor.
16. Make burger night after the holidays! Prepare your favorite turkey burgers and top them melted pepper jack cheese and cranberry sauce.
17. Construct a way-awesome grilled cheese sandwich with layers of leftover turkey and cranberry sauce, plus sharp cheddar. Mmmmm!
18. Stir cranberry sauce into your favorite pot of chili for a fun flavor twist.
19. If you like to make your own salad dressings, try incorporating a bit of blitzed cranberry sauce into your favorite balsamic or red wine vinaigrette.
20. The cranberry sauce would make an excellent glaze for grilled meats. Toward the end of the grilling time, brush some of the smooth sauce (thin with a little water or apple cider vinegar, if needed) over pork tenderloins, bone-in pork chops, chicken breasts, turkey tenderloins, or rich and tender beef kebabs.
21. Also, super simple, just add some cranberry sauce to your favorite BBQ sauce.
And now for the very best part. Let's talk about a few ways to enjoy dessert!
22. I can only imagine how wonderful a spoon of cranberry sauce would be over slices of Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust seen above.
23. For a fun bake sale treat, try cranberry streusel bars made with a shortbread crust, cranberry filling, and crumbly cinnamon-oat topping.
24. Slices of angel food cake or pound cake would be irresistible topped by cranberry sauce and whipped cream.
25. And it doesn't get much easier than this: Warm the cranberry sauce and spoon over scoops of vanilla bean ice cream.
After writing this post, I am convinced that there are at least a hundred more ways to enjoy leftover cranberries. Please share your favorite ways in the comments!