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10 cranberry sauce recipes for Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving spread isn't complete without a little cranberry sauce. Go homemade with these simple, but creative recipes.
Cranberry sauce LEAD
Using citrus like orange adds a bright, freshness to homemade cranberry sauce.wolf_art / Getty Images/iStockphoto
/ Source: TODAY

There are so many side dishes to choose from on Thanksgiving spreads, but there's one that absolutely must make an appearance every year. While butternut squash and mashed potatoes are lovely sides to have on Thanksgiving, neither one is as necessary as cranberry sauce.

Never underestimate the power of a fresh cranberry sauce. It has the ability to transform a bland and dry turkey into a sweet and tangy bird of splendor.

Some canned cranberry sauces are delicious, and there's no shame in serving one of them on Thanksgiving. But it's actually super easy to make an even better homemade cranberry sauce with fresh or frozen cranberries.

A sauce isn't the only way to dish up the cranberry, either. Feel free to go wild by adding different fruits and other ingredients to make cranberry relish, cranberry chutney, cranberry salad and more. Here are some of the best cranberry sauce recipes to consider making this Thanksgiving:

Cranberry sauce recipes

Kelsey Nixon's Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Chef Kelsey Nixon makes a classic cranberry sauce for those who like to stick with tradition. She uses cinnamon, which gives the dish a warm flavor. The recipe can be made as far as three days in advance, and it beats canned cranberry sauce any day.

This recipe by Alex Guarnaschelli can be on the table in under 20 minutes and utilizes a fall favorite: apple cider. (Although if you don't have any cider in your fridge, orange or apple juice will get the job done.)

Cranberry Applesauce

"Like many great dishes, this one reminds me of my mom — which is always awesome — but truly, it's one of those all-in-one-pot, straightforward recipes that creates a sauce that you can use with savory or sweet foods," chef Adam Richman told TODAY Food. His pretty cranberry applesauce is easy to make and has a smooth, kid-friendly consistency.

Orange and Walnut Cranberry Sauce

Have some extra nuts left over from your pre-Thanksgiving baking extravaganza? Toss them into your sauce for a little crunch and an earthy flavor that balances out the tart cranberries. The recipe calls for walnuts, but pecans or cashews are great additions, too.

Cranberry relish recipes

Here is a fresh take on traditional cranberry sauce. This cranberry relish is made with fresh cranberries, oranges, apples, walnuts, sugar, orange liqueur and celery. It may sound like a surprising combination, but its flavors are so bright and provide a great balance to all of the heavy dishes on the Thanksgiving buffet. It's also a super fast recipe to make with no cooking required.

Star chef Bobby Flay's cranberry and blackberry relish is a fruit-forward side with a lovely flavor profile. In addition to the sweet and tangy fruits, he adds spicy, bitter and fresh flavors with fresh ginger, orange zest, black pepper and cilantro. It's a very sophisticated update to classic cranberry sauce and will definitely impress the guests.

The boozy cranberry relish that tops this phyllo-wrapped baked brie can also be doubled or tripled to enjoy as a side with turkey. It's got a subtle kick thanks to the addition of Grand Marnier.

Cranberry chutney recipe

Cranberry Pomegranate Chutney

A chutney that is made with pomegranate arils and juice is another great way to serve cranberries on Thanksgiving. It is spiced with cardamom, cloves and fresh ginger. The chutney holds the consistency of the chunky cranberries and adds a beautiful pop of color to the plate. It can also be used as an appetizer alongside cheeses or charcuterie.

Apple-Cranberry Sauce

Since this recipe calls for 75% apples and 25% cranberries the texture more closely resembles a chutney or compote than a sauce. Plus. the additional sweetness from the apples means you can use a lot less added sugar.

Cranberry salad recipe

Sweet and Tangy Cranberry Salad

This creamy dish may look like dessert, but it's actually a sweet and tangy cranberry side dish that's delicious with turkey. It only takes 10 minutes to make and it can sit in the fridge while the rest of the dishes are getting prepped for the holiday.