How to Spruce Up Canned Cranberry Sauce for a Tangy Side Dish

No one will guess that your cranberry sauce came from a can if you dress it up a little.

If canned cranberry sauce conjures images of a can-shape jelly blob sitting on a platter next to the Thanksgiving turkey, you're not alone. It's a nostalgic side dish for the holiday feast, sure, but it is actually delicious when added to sweet and savory dishes any time of the year.

While it's pretty easy to make cranberry sauce from scratch, you might prefer to grab canned cranberry sauce instead. Before you go serving up slices of the jellied sauce or just dumping it in a bowl, we have a few tips for improving canned cranberry sauce that pairs perfectly with juicy turkey.

Cranberry Sauce Mix-Ins

Because cranberries have so much natural pectin, there's actually no gelatin involved in either the thick, jellied canned cranberry sauce or whole cranberry sauce. If using the thicker canned cranberry sauce, stir it with a wooden spoon to break it down or warm it up in a small saucepan ($20, Target) over medium-low heat. Stir-in one (or more) of the following add-ins to one can of whole or jellied cranberry sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp. of orange juice plus 1 tsp. of finely grated orange peel
  • ½ can of mandarin oranges
  • ½ cup pineapple
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped dried apricots
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • 2 Tbsp. Zinfandel Wine

Now that you have new and improved canned cranberry sauce, it's ready to go in a fancy serving bowl and head to the dinner table. If you do find yourself with fresh cranberries, try one of these delicious homemade cranberry sauce recipes. For a new take on the canned cranberry sauce, you can also turn it into a mouthwatering meatball appetizer or chicken dinner that will have everyone asking for the recipe.

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