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5 Ways to Upgrade Canned Cranberry Sauce for the Holidays

Let's talk about the unsung hero (or villain, depending on who you ask) of holiday feasts – cranberry sauce! It's that tangy troublemaker that divides dinner tables faster than you can say "turkey time." Some folks swear by its zesty zing, while others give it the side-eye like it's the Grinch who stole their perfect plate. And oh boy, don't even get started on the great homemade vs. canned cranberry sauce debate – it's a culinary clash for the ages! But fear not, whether you're a die-hard cran-fan or a skeptic, this guide is your backstage pass to a cranberry sauce glow-up that'll have everyone singing its praises, regardless of where you stand on the whole jelly vs. whole cranberry battleground. Get ready for a saucy adventure!


Spice it Right: Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Transform your cranberry sauce into a warm, comforting delight by adding a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves. The aromatic spices will create a symphony of flavors that perfectly complements the holiday season. Cinnamon works to harmonize the acidity of cranberries.

@Danielleeats shared their self-proclaimed "lazy version of cranberry sauce" with cinnamon as a main ingredient on TikTok. The creator uses one can of whole cranberry sauce ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, some brown sugar, and orange juice. Mix it together and you'll create an enhanced cranberry sauce that beautifully complements your dishes.

If you want to try this technique using jellied cranberry sauce, you may want to add a few teaspoons of water or orange juice to the sauce as you heat it on the stove. This addition will ensure that the consistency is thin enough to effectively blend in the cinnamon.



Heat it Up: Spicy Surprise

For the adventurous taste buds, kick things up a notch by adding a sprinkle of chili flakes. The subtle heat will add an unexpected and exciting element to your cranberry sauce. @Tieradee24 shared their spicy cranberry sauce recipe on TikTok, which includes fresh cranberries, brown sugar, orange zest, nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick, topped off with a sprinkle of chili pepper flakes. The best part about this upgrade is that it's extremely customizable.

You can effortlessly replicate this technique using your preferred canned version by gently heating it on the stove over medium-low heat until it reaches a thinner consistency. Once it's ready, add in the chili flakes, stir until well combined, and reduce the heat to simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes. This allows the chili flakes to infuse the sauce with both heat and flavor.



Zest it Up: Citrus Explosion

Elevating the classic cranberry sauce game, many enthusiasts swear by the magical marriage of cranberries and oranges. Give your cranberry sauce a zesty kick by adding orange or lemon zest. The bright citrus flavors will add a refreshing twist, cutting through the richness of other holiday dishes. To balance out the sourness of lemons and limes, you may want to incorporate some brown sugar.


@Italiancibo on TikTok uses whole cranberry sauce and adds freshly squeezed orange juice to their recipe. They simmer the mixture on the stove with an orange peel and a cinnamon stick to create a sweet and refreshing version of traditional cranberry sauce.



Herb Garden Magic: Rosemary Infusion

Elevate the earthy notes in your cranberry sauce by incorporating fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, or thyme. The herbal infusion will add a touch of sophistication, making your sauce stand out on the holiday table. @Real Simple shared their impressing recipe which includes sprinkled dried thyme over whole cranberry sauce, which had already been enhanced with fresh oranges and candied ginger - Sweet and savory!

Have fun and experiment with your favorite fresh or dried herbs. Rosemary, sage, and thyme are holiday classics that pair well with cranberry. Dice either fresh or dried leaves, keeping in mind that dried herbs tend to be more potent than their fresh counterparts. Sprinkle the diced leaves into the cranberry sauce as it heats on the stove. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes to allow the aromatic flavors to permeate the mixture.



Top it With a Cream Cheese Spread & Nuts

Who says cranberry sauce can't steal the dessert spotlight? Forget the usual side dish routine because TikTok user @juliannetaylorstyle has cracked the code to turn canned cranberry sauce into a decadent dessert that'll have everyone asking for seconds. This isn't your grandma's cranberry sauce – it's a sweet symphony of jellied cranberry goodness, crushed pineapple vibes, and a dash of lemony flair.

Grab some jellied cranberry sauce, crushed pineapple (juice reserved), lemon gelatin powder, cold water, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and a sprinkle of chopped nuts. Mix drained pineapple with cranberry sauce, then work your magic with the lemony gelatin potion and the reserved pineapple elixir. Let the cranberry-pineapple party chill in the fridge for a few hours.

Before showtime, whip up a creamy spread using cream cheese and powdered sugar. Slather that dreamy concoction on the chilled cranberry base with a rubber spatula. Finish with a generous sprinkle of chopped nuts – walnuts, cashews, pecans, take your pick. Voila! Your holiday dessert game just hit the jackpot.


This holiday season, let your creativity flow and transform that humble canned cranberry sauce into a culinary masterpiece. With these cran-tastic hacks, you'll not only impress your guests but also create a memorable and delicious addition to your festive feast. Cheers to upgrading your cranberry sauce game and making this holiday season one to remember!




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