14 Cranberry Recipes You Need To Try Out This Fall

What is it about cranberries that makes them so fit for fall? It could be their unwavering association with Thanksgiving, seeing as no spread is complete without cranberry sauce. Ultimately, though you can technically incorporate the fruit into a recipe any time of year, their festive status makes for a fun, seasonal inclusion as soon as those colder months roll around.

On their own, cranberries aren't all that tasty, seeing as they lean more towards tart than they do sweet. With a little creativity in the kitchen, however, you can easily transform cranberries into something as simple as sauce and as unexpected as infused vodka. A big perk about cooking with cranberries is that they work well in both sweet and savory contexts, adding just the right tart punch that works as well with muffins as it does turkey. If your fall (and winter) is in need of a good pop of festivity, then our best cranberry recipes should carry you through Thanksgiving and well into Christmas.

1. Savory Cranberry Sauce

While some people like to buy a can of cranberry sauce, plop it onto a plate, and call it a day, it really is worth putting in the effort to make your own. Now, it's easy to have a heavy hand with sugar when it comes to making cranberry sauce, especially for those who want to temper that tartness as much as possible. If you're looking to bring something a little bit new to the Thanksgiving table this year, then this savory cranberry sauce is the perfect option. Don't worry — there's still plenty of sugar in this recipe, but there's also chicken stock and herbs, making for a cranberry sauce that is absolutely begging to pair with your turkey.

If canned cranberry sauce is so sweet that you can't even stand to look at it, much less add it to your plate, then this recipe provides a good amount of balance. Brown sugar does provide a hint of sweetness that also helps limit the cranberries' tartness, but the most prominent flavors in this sauce are the herbs: thyme, sage, rosemary, and a little bit of cinnamon for a touch of spice.

Recipe: Savory Cranberry Sauce

2. Cranberry Orange Muffins

If blueberry muffins just aren't doing it for you anymore, then perhaps these cranberry orange muffins will offer a welcome change of pace. Unlike many recipes that sweeten or dilute cranberries in some way, this recipe allows them to shine as an untouched inclusion in the muffins. While the cranberries will provide tartness with every bite, the muffins themselves are perfectly sweet and even a little bit citrusy thanks to the inclusion of orange juice and zest.

These bright and colorful muffins make for a great inclusion in your breakfast routine or brunch spread. They're incredibly easy to make — you need just 35 minutes from start to finish — and they provide a nice alternative to the same old options that get boring after a while. Plus, they offer a great way to combine tart, sour, and citrusy flavors with sweet and warm ones.

Recipe: Cranberry Orange Muffins

3. Cranberries with Beets and Cardamom

Cranberries and beets certainly share a similar hue, so why not pair the two deep red foods together? That's exactly what this cranberries and beets recipe does, and it even throws in cardamom for a warming hit of spice that isn't cinnamon. This side dish-esque sauce recipe is great for those who really want to get culinarily creative for Thanksgiving; and, as it turns out, cranberries and beets really do work well together, with the sharp cranberries and earthy beets complementing each other quite beautifully.

Of course, you're not just mixing cranberries and beets and calling it a day. Other ingredients including red wine and sugar help make this recipe what it is, and they also help ensure that this cranberry sauce actually tastes somewhat like the classic dish we all know and love.

The most time-intensive part of this recipe is roasting the beets, which will take nearly an hour, but luckily it's passive work so you can focus on other elements of the dish as the oven does the work. Preparing the cranberries is as simple as simmering them with the wine and sugar, then you'll stir everything together for a surprisingly elegant yet deceivingly simple side dish.

Recipe: Cranberries with Beets and Cardamom

4. Cranberry Brie Bites

These cranberry brie bites certainly look like the type of appetizer that's almost too beautiful to eat, but behind the scenes, these easy-peasy little bites are ready to go in 30 minutes and with only five ingredients. The clever use of puff pastry helps simplify this recipe, because after all, who has the time to make their own pastry dough around the holidays? Unless you particularly enjoy adding unnecessary steps to your recipes, then the premade stuff not only works fine, but it adds the perfect puffy, golden look to these bites with ease.

Of course, we'd be remiss not to discuss what goes into the puff pastry, as that's the real star of the show. Cranberry sauce, brie cheese, a sliver of garlic, and a little bit of fresh rosemary make up the bulk of these tasty little bites, and your taste buds will dance with delight at the sweet, tart, and salty combo.

Recipe: Cranberry Brie Bites

5. Spiced Cranberry Muffins

At first glance, these muffins don't look like anything special — they look good no doubt, but they strike as a simple cranberry muffin and not much more. One bite proves that there's quite a bit of unexpected depth to these muffins, with roasted pears adding a unique flavor profile that most muffins simply can't compete with.

Because you'll be roasting pears for these muffins, you can anticipate doing a little more work than what a typical muffin recipe might call for. Aside from roasting the pears, however, this recipe progresses quickly and easily, with the addition of chopped cranberries complementing the sweet and warm pears quite nicely. Flaxseeds and sliced almonds make for a final garnish, adding both an aesthetic touch as well as a crunchy one.

Recipe: Spiced Cranberry Muffins

6. Best Cranberry Meatballs

If you've ever enjoyed the delicacy that is IKEA's Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce, then you'll know that savory meatballs pair quite well with a sweet, tart sauce. While these cranberry meatballs aren't exactly like the furniture store favorite, they employ the same successful flavor profiles to create a sweet, savory, and meaty entrée that pairs well with roasted vegetables, pasta, and rice. Of course, you could take another cue from IKEA's playbook and pair them with mashed potatoes to add a starchy balance to all of the meaty goodness.

One of the best aspects of this recipe is that it helps breathe fresh life into a dish that otherwise doesn't veer away from salty, herby, and savory flavor profiles. These cranberry meatballs are no more difficult to make than any type of meatball, which is to say that you won't be fussing in the kitchen. And, thanks to the cranberry sauce, these meatballs have an inherently festive flair, so you could serve them as an appetizer at your upcoming holiday party.

Recipe: Best Cranberry Meatballs

7. Chocolate Cranberry Curd Tart

We know that chocolate and raspberry are a match made in heaven, but what about chocolate and cranberry? Both cranberries and raspberries have a certain sourness to them, and that flavor profile certainly works when it comes to raspberries and chocolate; so, the same logic should apply in a cranberry context, and if this chocolate cranberry curd tart is any proof, the two ingredients do work quite magically together.

You'll start by making a cocoa powder-infused tart crust, then make two elements to go inside: a chocolate mousse and cranberry curd. Luckily, the mousse utilizes somewhat of a shortcut thanks to instant pudding mix, and the hardest part of making the curd is to give it time to cool in the fridge.

Once all of the elements are ready to go, you'll layer the mousse into the tart shell and follow that up with a layer of cranberry curd. This tart is delightfully rich, sweet, and a little bit sour thanks to the cranberries, and it's sure to brighten up even the dullest of holiday dessert spreads.

Recipe: Chocolate Cranberry Curd Tart

8. Cranberry Sauce Frozen Cosmo

Fans of cosmopolitan cocktails know that classic iterations contain vodka, triple sec, lime juice, and cranberry juice — the latter ingredient helping provide that iconic pink hue. While most cosmos put store-bought cranberry juice to good use, this frozen variation makes even better use of a Thanksgiving leftover: cranberry sauce. Though you wouldn't want to add chunky cranberry sauce to a stirred beverage, this one undergoes a good blending, so it won't taste or feel like you're slurping down thick sauce — all you'll taste is the sweet and tart notes.

Aside from its frozen flair and use of sauce instead of juice, this cosmo is true to the classic recipe. You'll also find vodka, triple sec, and lime juice in the ingredients list, so all you'll need is the leftover cranberry sauce and your trusty blender to make this cocktail-with-a-twist.

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce Frozen Cosmo

9. Cranberry Collard Green Rolls

Collard greens are often regarded as a one-trick pony — aside from making Southern-style buttery, balcony collards, the greens aren't seen useful for much else... until now, that is. Thanks to this cranberry collard green rolls recipe, you can put collards to use in a fresh and fun way by transforming them into a wrap. The greens themselves serve as the outer layer, while sweet potato, quinoa, avocado, and cranberry sauce make up the bulk of the inside goodies.

This is a great recipe to make after Thanksgiving, especially if you have leftover cranberry sauce and possibly some uncooked collard greens. You will have to blanch the collards before rolling them up, but that's a process that doesn't take more than a minute or two. The final dish is one that is absolutely bursting with plant-based goodness, and best of all, you can customize what goes inside of the roll based on flavor preferences or what you have on hand.

Recipe: Cranberry Collard Green Rolls

10. Cranberry and Sage Pearl Couscous

Couscous, like rice or quinoa, isn't all too exciting on its own. Luckily, it's pretty easy to dress couscous up, and if you want to go all-out for the holidays, then this cranberry and sage pearl couscous recipe is sure to be a hit. This dish is absolutely bursting with fall goodness, from the roasted pumpkin to the cranberries all the way to the final garnish of fried sage leaves.

There are a few moving parts in this recipe, so it is more involved than your typical side dish. That said, you can easily multitask — for example, you'll start cooking the couscous as the pumpkin roasts. By the time all of the elements are ready to go, it's just a matter of combining them and serving the dish alongside other holiday favorites like turkey and mashed potatoes.

Recipe: Cranberry and Sage Pearl Couscous

11. Tuscan Kale and Cranberry Salad

Cranberries bring a pop of brightness to any salad, and this Tuscan kale and cranberry salad is the perfect example. This salad is tasty enough without the berries, as it features a leafy kale base with sliced onion, feta cheese, pecans, and an irresistibly tangy Dijon-balsamic vinaigrette. The cranberries not only add a pop of color to the salad, but they also add flavor complexity that it otherwise wouldn't have — after all, every salad needs a sweet and sour element.

While you won't transform the cranberries into a sauce, you will cook them in a similar fashion. You'll simmer frozen cranberries with a little bit of water and sugar for about 10 minutes, which isn't so much cooking that the fruit will break down and burst, but just enough cooking that they'll soften considerably. And, on their own, cranberries wouldn't provide too much sweetness, but thanks to this cooking method, they'll add the perfect sweet pop to your leafy salad without overdoing it.

Because of cranberries' naturally festive nature, this salad would make for a great appetizer at a holiday party. Of course, you aren't limited to the holidays — this simple dish can also brighten up your weekday lunch routine.

Recipe: Tuscan Kale and Cranberry Salad

12. Cranberry Chia Jam

Chia seeds are remarkably nutrient-dense given their tiny, unsuspecting nature, and as it turns out, they're also useful for thickening homemade jam. This jam recipe puts the small but mighty seeds to good use, pairing them alongside cranberries, orange juice, cinnamon, and a touch of maple syrup for a delightfully sweet, tart, and subtly spiced jam that will surely give the store-bought strawberry stuff a run for its money.

Since the chia seeds help thicken up the jam, you don't have to worry about adding any other thickening agents like cornstarch. In fact, the process of making this jam is a quick and easy one, and it essentially involves simmering the ingredients for 10 minutes and then letting them sit off the heat for another 10 minutes. Once that time is up you'll have a delightful jam with a unique texture and plenty of opportunity for pairing. Spread this jam on toast, on an English muffin, or even enjoy some on a stack of pancakes — then you can store leftovers in the fridge to use again and again.

Recipe: Cranberry Chia Jam

13. Cranberry Feta Filo Cigars

These feta filo cigars effortlessly pack in plenty of savory, herby flavor, and paired with a simple cranberry sauce, it's a symphony of flavor that is somewhat unexpected. Feta cheese, hazelnuts, cranberries, parsley, and mint come together to form a delicious filling that gets rolled up into filo pastry, resulting in a perfectly dippable and stackable cigar shape. The cranberry sauce complements the cranberries in the cigars, and it helps provide a touch of sweetness that works exceptionally well with the feta cheese and herbs.

Though these filo cigars do require a little more work than most appetizers, they're a great option for holiday parties and are sure to impress even the pickiest of guests. Not only do the cranberries help make these cigars feel more festive, but they add a beautiful pop of color once you bite into the cigar and reveal the bright, herby, berry-infused filling in the middle.

Recipe: Cranberry Feta Filo Cigars

14. Cranberry-Infused Vodka

You can infuse vodka (or any liquor for that matter) with just about anything if you have enough patience, and in this case, cranberries step up as the star addition. It doesn't take much to make the magic happen, either — you'll need vodka and cranberries, naturally, and this recipe also calls for ginger, allspice, and orange zest to help brighten the cranberry flavor.

Once you load all of the ingredients into the vodka, you'll have to say goodbye for about a week as nature runs its course. You will want to shake your concoction daily, but otherwise, you don't want to open the container or tamper with it in any way. Though it is a big test of patience, the results are definitely worth the wait, especially once it's finally time to break into your freshly-infused vodka.

This cranberry-flavored vodka would work well in any number of cocktails, from cosmopolitans to festive Moscow Mules. As long as you strain out any cranberries once the infusing process is over, then you can enjoy the vodka for months to come — that means you can serve up festive drinks just in time for the holidays.

Recipe: Cranberry-Infused Vodka