It’s that time of year! We’re getting excited for the chance to brighten up holiday menus with any number of creative cranberry recipes. These pretty, deep red berries are loaded with tart, juicy flavor, making them the perfect foil on your Thanksgiving table (all that rich gravy!) and at Christmas too. Cranberry recipes are often a home cook’s go-to when it comes to appetizers, like a cheese ball coated in dried cranberries, and festive cocktails, such as cranberry gin and tonics made with cranberry simple syrup. To get your holiday menus in order, stock up on bags of fresh berries, which freeze beautifully for weeks, and dried ones, too, so you’re ready to bake when the season starts.
Cute cranberry ideas for holiday drinks
When it comes to cranberry recipes, most folks think of cranberry sauce or cranberry walnut pie when they spot a bag of fresh cranberries. Or breakfast granola springs to mind when dried ones are in the pantry. But a whole world of other creative uses for cranberries exists beyond these common go-tos. For example, cranberries can (and should!) pop up on your home bar since these gorgeous orbs are delightful when spied in a cocktail glass and they stain drinks with a lovely ruby shade that’s the epitome of holiday cheer.
You could consider muddling a few cranberries at the bottom of your mixing glass when making a Manhattan (add liquor and strain as usual). Or float a few cranberries on top of a glass of Prosecco or in a kir royale. And cranberry juice is ideal in a Christmas punch, along with an ice mold in the center of the bowl that contains frozen cranberries and orange slices.
Cranberry recipes that use dried berries
Dried cranberries may be an afterthought when you’re deciding on which cranberry recipes to try this year. But remember, these rosy nuggets can do anything a raisin can—and maybe even better. Mix dried berries into your morning oatmeal or yogurt, or top a salad with cranberries, especially one made with baby spinach, sliced red pepper, walnut pieces and feta. Dried cranberries also add oomph to basic white rice (mix a handful in toward the end of the cooking time so they plump up a bit, along with toasted pine nuts and lemon zest). And don’t forget to use dried cranberries in every kind of sweet this holiday season, from pies, muffins and quick bread to Christmas cookies made with white chocolate and macadamia nuts.
Thanksgiving and Christmas menu inspiration
Creating a holiday menu can be tricky since you don’t want to repeat what you served last year and you need to consider certain food preferences and allergies. And then if you have a lot of kids coming to your house, you’ll want to make dishes that appeal to young palates too. To help you get ready, start with your table setting. If you arrange your tablescape a day or two in advance, you’ll feel more prepared. Next, your holiday bird, which is a very common centerpiece at Christmas as well as Thanksgiving. Side dishes are a big deal on both of these holidays as you need at least four or five if you’ve invited a sizable crowd. Lastly, the best part—dessert. These Christmas desserts and Thanksgiving sweets will please everyone at your table.
Best Recipes with Fresh and Dried Cranberries
Cranberries are vibrantly red, a little tangy, a little sweet—and very versatile. They give both sweet and savory dishes a pop of red that instantly ups their festive feel, and they look so pretty on a Thanksgiving or Christmas table. Each preparation—raw, candied, or cooked—brings a new flavor profile. Make any one of these recipes featuring cranberries to liven up your holiday menus.
Not much of a cook? Check out these 55 restaurants that’ll be open on Thanksgiving day.