Jessica Grosman

Cranberry Sauces for Thanksgiving

Jessica Grosman
Cranberry Sauces for Thanksgiving

Is anyone else in total denial that Thanksgiving is now less than one week away??? Just as I was settling into November’s rhythm, it’s about to be disrupted by one of the most major, if not the most symbolic culinary holidays of the year. Are you ready?

I host Thanksgiving nearly every year, it’s my pleasure to bring my small family together around our too-big dining room table for a delicious meal. Obviously, I love to cook, there’s no denying that fact. But what I don’t like to do is to feel rushed or pressured when I’m preparing a meal. I like to be organized yet leisurely as I move about my kitchen prep to-do list. I prefer to have all of the cooking pots and baking dishes cleaned and put away before I serve a meal (ok, this is a bit neurotic, I know, but it’s my thing and I won’t judge you if you’re pots are still on the stove when you sit down to eat!).

Thanksgiving preparation is like a marathon, it’s long and there are moments where more effort is needed for an uphill portion, and other parts where it’s safe and easy to coast. Let cranberry sauce be the downhill run of your Thanksgiving cooking. Note that the downhill is imperative, it gives you the energy and momentum to get back uphill and across the finish line. Enough with the running metaphors…

Cranberry sauce is one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal. It’s most definitely the healthiest side dish, in comparison to the typical stuffings, mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles, and rolls. Did you know that cranberries are one of only 3 fruits native to North America? Can you name the other two native fruits? The Native Americans believed that cranberries had medicinal value, long before we knew of their health benefits. Sailors used to eat cranberries as a reliable source of vitamin C to prevent scurvy. These sour berries are also an excellent source of antioxidants.

The brilliant red color of cranberry sauce brings a bright counterpoint to the drabness of turkey and stuffing, don’t you think? And the acid of the sauce is a digestive aid, it spurs the salivary glands to release saliva, which contains necessary digestive enzymes to break-down the proteins in the other foods. So the Native Americans had it correct hundreds of years ago, when they considered these pucker-inducing berries to be medicinal.

I’m sharing 3 of my favorite cranberry sauce recipes below. I love them all equally, but they have their own flavors and moods…find whichever suits your Thanksgiving menu and guests best and make that variation! Cranberry sauce actually benefits from some time in the refrigerator, a chance to let the flavors blend. I’m planning to make my cranberry sauce (a triple-batch!) on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

Please take time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends. Spend quiet moments alone, and loud laughable moments with your loved ones. Feed yourself well, you deserve it!

Wishing you a relaxing weekend and Thanksgiving, full of delicious food, health & wellness.


Cran-Apple Beet Sauce

print recipe here

Ingredients:  (note - use organic whenever possible)

8 oz fresh cranberries

1 medium apple, peeled, seeds removed, chopped

1 T Dr. Cowan’s Garden Three-Beet Powder (if available, otherwise any beet powder)

1/4 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 t maple syrup

pinch of sea salt


Place cranberries and chopped apple into a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-high, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.

Once the cranberries begin to pop and release their juices, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the cranberries and apples are fully cooked-down and softened.  If the mixture seems dry, add water (1 T at a time) to keep some moisture in the pan.

After the cranberry-apple mixture is cooked, remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients.  Add another tablespoon or two of water, if needed, to achieve desired consistency.  Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or maple syrup, if needed.

Serve sauce at room temperature, or gently reheat and serve warm.


recipe yields 4-5 side dish servings

recipe can easily be doubled for more servings

sauce can be made in 3 days in advance of serving; cover and chill until ready to serve

add additional spice by adding a pinch of cloves to the mixture

Boozy Cranberry Sauce

print recipe here

Ingredients:  (note - use organic whenever possible)

12 oz. fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked-over

1 apple, peeled and finely chopped

1/4 C crystalized ginger, finely chopped (I like this brand)

1/2 C golden raisins

1/2 C Brandy

pinch of sea salt

maple syrup (optional) to further sweeten, to taste


Place cranberries in a medium-sized heavy saucepan.  Heat, over medium, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to pop and release their juices.  Add the apple and crystallized ginger, stirring to combine.  Lower the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until the mixture begins to gel together.

Meanwhile, simmer the golden raisins and Brandy in a small saucepan.  Remove from heat once all of the Brandy has been absorbed by the raisins, it will only take a few moments.  Keep your eye on the pan!

Add the brandied raisins to the cranberry mixture, along with a pinch of salt.  Stir and taste.  If a sweet cranberry sauce is preferred, add some maple syrup - 1 teaspoon at a time, until the desired taste is reached.

Serve the cranberry sauce warm or at room temperature.


Recipe yields 4-5 generous servings.

Cranberry sauce can be made a few days in advance of serving, keep chilled until ready to serve.

Leftovers, if there are any, can be kept chilled for 2-3 days.


Indian-Spiced Double Ginger Cranberry Sauce

print recipe here

Ingredients:  (note - use organic whenever possible)

16oz fresh cranberries

1 small apple, diced

1/2 C water, divided

1 T grated fresh ginger

1/2 t ground ginger (powder)

1/2 t garam masala (add an additional 1/2 t for a more pronounced flavor)

6 T turbinado sugar


Rinse cranberries and discard bruised fruit.  Place cranberries, diced apple and 1/4 C water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cranberries pop and break-down into a sauce-like consistency.  Stir often to prevent burning.  The cranberry-apple mixture should take 10-12 minutes to achieve correct consistency.

Once the mixture is sauce-like, add the remaining 1/4 C water, fresh ginger, ground ginger, garam masala and sugar.  Stir to combine and continue to simmer for 5 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve and the flavors to blend.

Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.  Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled, if desired.


recipe yields 6-8 servings

sauce can be made 1-2 days in-advance of serving; keep chilled in a covered container

leftovers will keep for 2-3 days, chilled, in a covered container

substitute a ripe pear for the apple, to subtly change the flavor of the sauce