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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Cranberry sauce is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. (Anyone else?) Tart and delicious, it holds the Thanksgiving meal together. The gorgeous red-maroon hue brightens the otherwise brownish plate, and its refreshing flavor improves just about everything it touches.

Turkey and stuffing bring out its sweetness while sweet potatoes make that cranberry tartness pop. I even put it on my salad and my pumpkin pie. Cranberry sauce, is there anything you can't top? Since Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce, look here for five great recipes. They keep well, so make them early and make enough for leftovers.

The World's Easiest Cranberry Sauce

This classic cranberry sauce from The Food Lab is as easy as it's name would suggest, and it's very receptive to additions.

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Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce

Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce

[Photograph: Joshua Bousel]

Another classic: the only twist is using pomegranate juice instead of water and garnishing with a few seeds. The result maintains that great balance between sweet and tart, but just a bit fruitier.

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Spiced Cranberry Sauce

[Photograph: Joshua Bousel]

Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and zest make this recipe unusual, but the flavors are perfect for Thanksgiving. Finished off with spiced rum, this sauce adds dimension to any bite. You may want to serve it next to one of the classics, though, in case anyone opposes such a break from tradition.

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Sam Sifton's Basic Cranberry Sauce

[Photograph: Kate Williams]

In his new book Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well, Sam Sifton offers a straightforward yet well-balanced Basic Cranberry Sauce. It is simply cranberries cooked quickly with orange juice, zest, and just enough sugar to counter the berries' tartness.

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Cranberry-Apple Relish

Cranberry-Apple Relish

[Photograph: Josh Bousel]

This cranberry-apple relish is an alternative to the sauce mainstay. All you do is pulse fresh cranberries, apple, sugar, and orange juice and zest together in a food processor.

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More Thanksgiving Sides

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots with Balsamic Vinegar

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