10 ideas for homemade cranberry sauce: 5 cooked, 5 raw

Alison Ladman
Associated Press

We get it: The allure of canned cranberry sauce goes well beyond convenience.

There's something about the ridges on the side, about the way it jiggles on the plate, about the way it slides down your throat... We get. So you should, too. On this day of giving thanks (and indulgence), embrace canned cranberry sauce. But that shouldn't preclude you from offering up an alternative, too. After all, we are celebrating a bountiful harvest.

The beauty of homemade cranberry sauce is that it's so easy to make it so good. It's also incredibly versatile. The classic technique involves nothing more than simmering the whole berries on the stovetop with a whole mess of sugar. Given a few minutes, those cranberries soon burst and bubble and thicken into a deliciously thick tangy-sweet sauce.

But did you know cranberries also shine in raw sauces? Though these really are more of a relish or salsa, they are just as delicious. Raw cranberry sauces are great with the usual turkey and sides, but also can do double duty as a starter served with tortilla chips or spooned over a cream cheese or warm brie and paired with slices of baguette.

To help get you going, we've collected 10 fresh ways with homemade cranberry sauce — five cooked and five raw.

5 new ways with cooked cranberry sauce

Start with a 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, 1 cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¾ cup water. Combine in a medium saucepan with your chosen flavorings below. Bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries pop and the mixtures becomes thick and saucy. Cool to room temperature.

Vanilla-chai: Before adding the water, bring it to a boil and steep 3 chai teabags in it for 5 minutes. Remove the teabags and combine the tea with the remaining ingredients as well as half a vanilla bean, split and scraped, ¼ cup honey, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom.

Caramelized onion: Chop 2 large yellow onions and cook slowly for 15 to 20 minutes in a splash of oil until well browned and sweet. Stir in 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, then add to the master recipe above.

Merlot: Replace the water in the master recipe with merlot wine and add the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon.

Bacon-date: Reduce the sugar to ¾ cup, then stir in ¾ cup chopped dried dates. Stir in ¾ cup crumbled cooked bacon just before serving.

Maple-miso: Use maple syrup in place of the sugar in the master recipe and add 2 tablespoons sweet white miso paste.

5 new ways with fresh cranberry sauce

Start with a 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, 1 cup sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Combine everything in a food processor — along with a selection below — and pulse until well chopped. Serve cold.

Mojito: Add the zest and juice from 2 limes and ½ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves. Stir in 1 tablespoon light rum.

Melba: Add a 10-ounce bag of thawed frozen peaches and 6 ounces fresh raspberries.

Smoky chipotle: Add 1 minced chipotle pepper and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 2 cloves garlic.

Ruby citrus: Add the zest of 1 orange, 1 lemon and 1 lime. After processing, stir in 1 cup chopped segments of ruby red grapefruit.

Herbed: Add 3 tablespoons each of chopped fresh chives, tarragon, basil, parsley and cilantro.