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5 Cranberry Sauce Alternatives to Try This Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving dinner is on a table.
Bochkarev Photography/Shutterstock.com

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and while some can’t wait for that cranberry sauce goodness, others are ready to switch it up and add some novelty to their holiday table. If you belong to the latter group, we have some delicious alternatives for you.

Cranberries are the perfect taste combination of sweet and tart, so they pair well with that delicious turkey and other Thanksgiving staples. When looking for an alternative, it’s important to keep this in mind, so you can find something that will taste just as good, if not better. Here are our suggested replacements for classic cranberry sauce.

Sour Cherry Sauce

Homemade cherry sauce in white ramekin.
Elena Veselova/Shutterstock.com

Sour cherries are another perfect combination of sweet and tart that also provide a rich, fruity flavor to poultry. This time of the year it might be hard to find fresh sour cherries, but most grocery stores carry them in the freezer section. Switch things up this holiday season and give your family and friends something new to taste!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup of sour cherries, pitted and thawed if frozen
  • 3 Teaspoons of olive oil, divided
  • 1 Medium shallot, minced
  • 2 Teaspoons of whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 Cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of brandy (optional)
  • 2 Teaspoons of honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1 Teaspoon of tarragon

Directions:

  1. Thaw sour cherries and set aside.
  2. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons of olive oil to a small saucepan and heat.
  3. Add shallot and cook until soft and golden.
  4. Add sour cherries, mustard, and brandy, and then cook for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in red wine vinegar and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cook until mixture is reduced by half (about 5-7 minutes).
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Stir in butter, honey (or maple syrup), and tarragon, and serve.

Blueberry Bourbon Sauce

Sliced grilled beef with blueberry sauce on white plate.
Tatiana Volgutova/Shutterstock.com

A delicious blueberry bourbon sauce will have everyone reaching for seconds, and not just because of the alcohol content. When paired with your juicy turkey, your palate will explode with flavor, and you’ll forget that cranberry sauce even exists.

You can also make this sauce in advance and store it in mason jars in your fridge for up to a month.

Ingredients:

  • 1  Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Small red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup of bourbon
  • 1 Cup of fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, don’t thaw)
  • 1/4 Cup of tomato purée
  • 3 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1/4 Tablespoon of ground allspice
  • 1/4 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and sweat it out, until it’s just starting to brown.
  3. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds to release fragrance.
  4. Pour in bourbon, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Stir in blueberries, tomato purée, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice, and then return to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally until sauce thickens (about 15-20 minutes).

Sweet Balsamic Plum Sauce

Pickled plums with spices in a jar and on a blue plate
Lyudmila Mikhailovskaya/Shutterstock.com

Plums are well-known for pairing wonderfully with duck, but why should turkey be deprived of their tangy, sweet taste? This sweet balsamic plum sauce hits just right and gives turkey a sort of umami flavor that balances out the sauce.

It’s also really easy to make, so this is a sauce you’ll undoubtedly end up making again and again.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Medium plums
  • 3 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Dice plums into small cubes and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine plums with balsamic vinegar and honey (or maple syrup), and bring to boil.
  3. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes.
  5. When sauce is reduced and plums are soft, remove from heat and cover.
  6. Let sit for another 10-15 minutes, and then serve.

Quince Sauce

Pork knuckle stewed with quince and apples in tray.
Lunov Mykola/Shutterstock.com

Quince might be best known as a jam, but you can also let this interesting and delicious fruit shine in a whole new light this Thanksgiving. When turned into a spiced sauce, it blends perfectly with juicy turkey.

Just be ready to share the recipe with your family and friends. And be sure to serve it in attractive bowls, so it gets the attention it deserves.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Quinces, peeled and pitted
  • 6 Cloves
  • 6 Juniper berries
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 200g Granulated (or brown) sugar
  • 1 Thumb-size piece of ginger
  • 1 Lemon

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and cover with water.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and then cook for about 45 minutes or until quinces are soft enough to mash.
  3. Drain quinces, cut them in half, and then blend to a smooth purée in a food processor.
  4. Add purée to a small saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes to thicken, stirring frequently.
  5. Allow to cool, and then serve.

Kumquat Sauce

Meat roll with kumquat and orange sauce.
Chatham172/Shutterstock.com

The younger cousin of tangerine, kumquat has a unique citrus flavor that pairs nicely with savory dishes. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get creative and add a bold kumquat sauce to the table.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 Shallots, diced
  • 6 Kumquats, seeded and thinly sliced, lengthwise
  • 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/3 Cup of dried cherries
  • 1/3 Teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 Cup of white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 Cup of water

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add shallots and cook until they start to soften.
  3. Add kumquats, brown sugar, water, dried cherries, white wine vinegar, and red pepper flakes, and bring to a simmer.
  4. Cook until thick and sugar dissolves (about 10 minutes), stirring frequently.
  5. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes, and then serve.

Thanksgiving dinner has many traditional dishes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment and get creative. If you’re not a huge fan of cranberry sauce, or just want to shake things up a bit this year, any of these alternatives are sure to be a hit!

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »

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