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20 Ways to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Leftover Cranberry Sauce doesn’t need to be only enjoyed as a condiment – it can be added to so many desserts, appetizers, main courses, and even drinks! From sweet to savory, I’ve got you covered with the best ways to use leftover cranberry sauce!

Leftover cranberry saucein a skillet

What is Cranberry Sauce?

Cranberry sauce is essentially a cranberry jam or relish that finds its way onto nearly every Thanksgiving table. Cranberry sauce can be made from as little as cranberries, sugar, and water – or you can add ingredients like orange juice and cinnamon for more flavor. This is my favorite cranberry sauce recipe!

Or, as many families do, cranberry sauce can be purchased in a can and go straight from the can to the table. That’s my dad’s favorite!

It’s said that this Thanksgiving condiment actually dates back to the first Thanksgiving or even before, as cranberries were an important crop for the Native Americans. Cranberries served not only as food, but also as dye and medicine. And they were abundant during that time period, so it only makes sense that they were enjoyed at the first Thanksgiving, and that the tradition has been passed down.

homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest on top

How to Store Leftover Cranberry Sauce

After writing this post, I am convinced that there are at least 1,000 delicious ways to enjoy the leftover cranberry sauce from your Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts!

And a really great thing about cranberry sauce is that it will last a surprisingly long time in the fridge. Most homemade cranberry sauces will last up to 10 days! That makes them perfect for leftovers after the Thanksgiving meal is over. Simply keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Leftover cranberries stirred into yogurt

Breakfasts with Cranberry Sauce

Let’s start off right away with the morning after the feast. Because breakfast loves cranberries!

  1. Add it to a yogurt bowl. I adore fresh fruit sauces swirled into a bowl of yogurt and granola. In the bowl above, I blitzed some of the cranberry sauce with an immersion blender and then swirled it into vanilla bean yogurt. Then I topped it off with some of the whole cranberries from the sauce and my favorite homemade granola.
  2. Spread it on toast or bagels. Store the cranberry sauce in a jam jar in the fridge, and then spread it on your morning toast or bagel. It’s wonderful with peanut butter or cream cheese!
  3. Use as a topping. Top your pancakes, waffles, or French toast with a big spoon of warmed cranberry sauce. And a dollop of sweetened whipped cream!
  4. Add it to maple syrup. Or, make a simple maple cranberry syrup by heating some of the cranberry sauce with pure maple syrup in a saucepan on the stovetop. Then spoon it over your favorite breakfast pancakes, waffles, or French toast.
  5. Stir it into oatmeal. Stir the cranberry sauce into a bowl of steaming oatmeal or steel-cut oats, or into overnight oats.
  6. Add it to butter. Make cranberry butter for your favorite muffins, breakfast breads, or popovers by beating together butter, a little cranberry sauce, and fresh orange zest. Easy peasy, and it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or so.
  7. Add a sweet dip to your savory breakfast. Call me crazy, but I love to run my breakfast sausage through a bit of sweet jam. Cranberry sauce would fit in great on my breakfast plate of eggs and sausage!
Leftover cranberry sauce in a smoothie

Drinks with Cranberry

8. Make a breakfast smoothie. This smoothie, another morning-after recipe, couldn’t be easier to make. In a blender, combine 1 cup fresh-pressed apple cider, 1-1/2 cups cranberry sauce, 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup yogurt, and a dash of cinnamon. Blend until combined. Makes 2 large servings. Our family loves fruit smoothies, and this one is a post-holiday favorite with its spiced tartness.

9. Make your own cranberry soda. Add a spoon of sweet, tart cranberry sauce to a tall glass with ice and pour in cold, bubbly club soda. Muddle and stir to combine, for a refreshing homemade cranberry soda!

10. Get boozy with it. Need something a little stronger than soda after the holiday? Swirl a spoon of blitzed cranberry sauce into a vodka or gin cocktail with tonic water over ice. Or stir a bit of the bright sauce into your favorite margarita!

Meatballs made with leftover cranberry sauce

Dinner Ideas with Leftover Cranberry Sauce

11. Make the best sweet chili meatballs. One of my very favorite uses for leftover cranberry sauce involves meatballs. In a large skillet, heat 1 cup cranberry sauce, 12 ounces chili sauce, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Fold in a 22-ounce bag of your favorite frozen cooked homestyle meatballs, thawed. Stir every now and then, until heated through. Top with chopped fresh parsley, if you like a little touch of fancy. Serve as a main entree with mashed potatoes or as an appetizer with party picks. This simple recipe delivers BIG flavor!

12. Make a day-after-Thanksgiving-grilled cheese. Construct a way-awesome grilled cheese sandwich with layers of leftover turkey and cranberry sauce, plus sharp cheddar. Mmmmm!

13. Add some tart sweetness to your chili. Stir cranberry sauce into your favorite pot of chili for a fun flavor twist.

14. Give your salads a new flavor. If you like to make your own salad dressings, try incorporating a bit of blitzed cranberry sauce into your favorite balsamic or red wine vinaigrette.

15. Turn it into a glaze. The cranberry sauce would make an excellent glaze for grilled meats. Toward the end of the grilling time, brush some of the smooth sauce (thin with a little water or apple cider vinegar, if needed) over pork tenderloins, bone-in pork chops, chicken breasts, turkey tenderloins, or rich and tender beef kebabs.

16. Turn up the BBQ. If making a glaze isn’t your thing, you can also take a shortcut and just add some cranberry sauce to your favorite BBQ sauce.

Crostinis topped with cranberry

17. Make an easy holiday appetizer. This crostini appetizer is an easy before-dinner nibble that’s so very pretty, and perfect for the holidays. Simply toast slices of your favorite baguette or small toast under the broiler until just crisp, and then let cool. Top with softened cream cheese or goat cheese, followed by a bit of cranberry sauce (I really like the whole berries for this, so pretty!), fresh orange zest, and fresh thyme leaves. Crack a bit of black pepper over the top to finish them off.

Desserts with Cranberry Sauce

18. Level up your cheesecake. I can only imagine how wonderful a spoon of cranberry sauce would be over slices of my friend Bridget’s cheesecake with gingersnap crust. If you’re making a cheesecake from scratch, you could easily swirl some cranberry sauce throughout the batter as well!

19. Make a cranberry sauce trifle! A trifle is essentially layers of cake, whipped cream and a sweet sauce, so why not make one with cranberry sauce? Slices of angel food cake or pound cake would be incredible nestled between layers of leftover cranberry sauce and whipped cream.

20. Make the best vanilla sundae. And it doesn’t get much easier than this. Warm the cranberry sauce and spoon over scoops of vanilla ice cream. Add more of your favorite toppings if desired for an epic sundae!

Cranberry sauce in a skillet

More Ideas for Thanksgiving Leftovers:

Meatballs made with leftover cranberry sauce


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5 comments on “20 Ways to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce”

  1. Great list! So well curated with a mix of simple and more complicated recipes. Since my mind usually goes to sweets with cranberries, it was fun to get some ideas for savory recipes too.