Crantastic! 12 Ways to Enjoy Your Leftover Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce on top of pancake stack Photo by Stephanie Frey / iStock
Photo by © StephanieFrey/istockphoto

Whether it’s the wiggly-jiggly canned version or a beloved family recipe with orange zest and pecans, ruby-hued cranberry sauce adds the perfect sweet-tart touch to your savory Thanksgiving feast. But doesn’t it always feel like you have a heckuva lot of it left over?! 

Of course, you can always use that surplus cran as a Black Friday turkey-sandwich filler (highly recommended), but this year you could also give an old, faithful holiday-meal new life with these 12 kiddo-friendly and wonderfully tasty tips: 

1. Make the ultimate…grilled cheese! Gourmands will love cranberry sauce with Brie or goat cheese, but it’s also great with cheddar or Havarti. Spread the sauce inside the sandwich before you get grilling.

2. Pour it over your…pancakes! Simmer your leftover sauce on low heat, adding orange juice and/or maple syrup to taste and until you have the consistency you want. Drizzle that crimson elixir all over your favorite flapjacks—or try it with a stack of our scrumptious pumpkin spice pancakes or these apple ginger delights from PBS Food. 

3. Spoon it into…muffins! It would probably make a delicious substitution for other fruit in any muffin recipe, but we’re especially keen on this one from Two Peas and Their Pod—we love the idea of spooning the cranberry sauce into the center (versus stirring it into a batter) to yield a burst of deliciously bold flavor (and color!) when you break the muffins open. 

4. Roll it up in...cinnamon rolls! These amazing breakfast pastries by the CakeSpy blog’s Jessie Oleson Moore (via Serious Eats) also feature cranberry sauce in the delicious glaze. Oh, and they call for whole-wheat flour so you can feel a little less guilty about indulging in this treat.

5. Stir it into...yogurt! It doesn’t get simpler than that. Toss a handful of granola on top and you’re good to go.

6. Whip it into a…smoothie! In addition to adding a lovely sweet tang, the cranberries will turn your smoothie a pleasing, kid-friendly pink color. You can blend them with any combination of ingredients you like, but yogurt, bananas, and apple or orange juice always make a nice base.

7. Top your…toast! Use your cranberry sauce just as you would use jam—it’s tasty with butter, nut butters, or cream cheese.

8. Bake it into…homemade pop tarts! This Cooking with Caitlin recipe for the iconic snack food is so simple that your breakfast will never be the same. 

9. Freeze it in your…popsicles! Just blend it with favorite juices and/or yogurt and pour into ice pop molds. Cranberry pairs perfectly with orange, lemon, cherry, strawberry, apple, and lots of other flavors.

10. Slow cook it with…meatballs! It doesn’t get easier than this three-ingredient slow cooker recipe from Woman’s Day. Serve as an appetizer or as a main dish alongside brown rice or mashed potatoes and a salad.

11. Sauce your…pizza! Mix cranberry sauce with your favorite barbecue sauce and spread it over your pizza dough. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and toppings like chopped chicken breast, corn, beans, onions, and peppers.

12. Glaze your…pork! Cook a cup of cranberry sauce with half a cup of orange juice and brown sugar to taste over medium heat until smooth. Then use it to baste pork loin, chicken, or (of course) turkey. 

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