Cranberry sauce is part of the Thanksgiving trinity along with turkey and mashed potatoes, but many home cooks still rely on the canned stuff while dedicating major efforts to the other plates on the table. Despite the nostalgia and ease that comes with using jellied or other prepared versions, there’s something remarkable about serving a homemade batch that’s tangy, sweet and vibrantly colored. Here, five tips for DIY cranberry sauce.


Make Chutney

Unlike classic cranberry sauce, which tends to be sweet and citrusy, chutney leans more toward savory, with additions like aromatic shallots and warm spices.

Add Dried Fruit

Dried fruits—like raisins, apricots, cherries and dates—plump up while cooking, adding terrific texture and subtle flavor. Plus, cranberries pair well with most fruits, so chances are there’s an ideal add-in already in your pantry.

Make Relish

In just minutes, a food processor can transform whole cranberries—fresh or frozen—into an incredibly fresh-tasting relish. The trick: Balance the naturally tart berries with sugar, honey or agave. Adding fresh fruit like apples and orange segments helps create a brightly flavored condiment reminiscent of pico de gallo.

Doctor Jarred Jelly or Preserves

Here’s the easiest cranberry sauce ever: In a saucepan, combine fresh or frozen cranberries with your favorite jarred jelly or preserves and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and are suspended in a sauce. This isn’t an exact recipe, clearly, but it lends itself to experimenting with unusual flavors, like spicy red pepper jelly or apricot preserves.

Add Booze

For years, people have been spiking dessert, so why not cranberry sauce?