Canned cranberry sauce plopped onto a plate is a tradition on some Thanksgiving tables. But the jiggly maroon cylinder might disappear more quickly if you make your sauce from scratch, with whole cranberries and sugar. It's one of the easier sides to prepare on the big day, but it also can be made days in advance to save time and stovetop space. Fresh sauce is more customizable, too, the canned jelly bearing little resemblance to the tartness of fresh cranberries, which you can let shine in your homemade sauce or mellow out with a hefty amount of sugar. Adding less sugar will produce a looser, fruitier, less gelatinous sauce.
Here, we're offering a recipe for traditional homemade cranberry sauce and six mix-ins if you want to take things to the next level.
Make sauce according to original recipe. When sauce is done cooking but before it has cooled, mix in a handful of toasted walnuts and a tablespoon each of chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and sage.
Shallot and cherry
Add 1 shallot, roughly chopped, in with the cranberries, along with about ¼ cup dried unsweetened sour cherries, and cook according to original recipe.
Omit the orange peel in the original recipe, instead adding the juice of 1 lime, ¾ teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ cup chopped pickled jalapenos and 1 tablespoon brine from the jar to the saucepan with the cranberries and other ingredients. Cook according to original recipe, then remove from heat and stir in the finely grated zest of 1 lime.
To the saucepan with the cranberries and other ingredients, add 1 cup fresh grapefruit juice, ⅓ cup fresh orange juice and 1 sprig rosemary. Cook according to original recipe. Two minutes before sauce is done, add ⅓ cup thinly sliced dried apricots and ¼ cup golden raisins. Remove rosemary sprig before serving.
Cook cranberries according to original recipe. After they have cooked for 10 minutes, add 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger and ⅓ cup crystallized (candied) ginger that has been finely chopped to the saucepan and stir well. Let cook for another 10 minutes or until desired thickness.
Add 1 cup halved dried figs in with the cranberries and substitute ¼ to ½ cup of the water for dry red wine. Otherwise, cook according to original recipe.