The pies are long gone. The houseguests have left the building. The vegetables have been turned into breakfast hash. And the carcass is simmering into turkey soup on the back burner. But what are you going to do with leftover cranberry sauce sitting in the back of the refrigerator?

Mine is a dual cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving household. I add candied ginger to my chunky, homemade variety, while my husband insists on having a can of the less interesting commercial stuff because he prefers it for day-after turkey sandwiches. Regardless of who brings the sauce to the table, I am the one generally left with the task of using it up. Due to its high acid and ample sugar content, most cranberry sauce, if stored in an airtight container, will keep in the fridge for up to 14 days. You can certainly pop it into the freezer if you’re planning on another roast turkey dinner sometime in the next three months. But I’d argue there are more interesting ways – both sweet and savory – to dispatch the remains of both types of cranberry sauce.

Leftover cranberry and candied ginger sauce is easily and deliciously repurposed. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Use the canned stuff in places where you might deploy cranberry juice. It dissolves easily when it’s shaken, into, say, cosmopolitans, margaritas or mojitos. Whisked into a standard mustard vinaigrette, cranberry sauce complements bitter winter salad ingredients like endive, escarole and radicchio. When a spoonful or two is stirred into a simmering pot of chili that’s a bit too spicy or a BBQ sauce that could use a shot of acid, the cranberry sauce can help round out the flavor.

It is, in fact, a jelly (fruit and sugar set with pectin), so cranberry sauce works like one when you bake with it. Take your favorite thumbprint cookie recipe (find mine in a Nov. 29, 2015, column) and swap out the raspberry jelly for cranberry sauce. To turn vanilla ice cream into something special, let it soften on the counter for 20 minutes. Stir 1 tablespoon of vodka into 1 cup of cranberry sauce (the alcohol will keep the sauce scoopable once it has frozen). Alternate layers of ice cream and cranberry sauce in a loaf pan. Return the pan to the freezer for at least an hour. When you scoop it, you’ll have a cranberry ripple treat.

If you want to drink the chunky stuff, you’ll need a formidable agitator, like a blender. Add it to morning kale or spinach smoothies that call for a tart apple, as it will have the same effect on the overall flavor profile. To amp up a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich, slather it between the cheese and bread before cooking your lunch. Tap into a box of phyllo dough to make herbed goat cheese and cranberry appetizers that you can store in the freezer and bake up quickly when family and friends stop by over the holiday season.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, make brownies. You might have the same reaction my neighbor did when she tried one: “FINALLY!!! Now I’ve got something good to do with the leftover cranberry sauce!”


One-Pot Fudgy Cranberry Sauce Brownies Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

One-Pot Fudgy Cranberry Sauce Brownies

I adapted this recipe from Katie Workman’s “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” I’ve added brown sugar and cranberry sauce. It’s a big pan of brownies. I can attest that, if wrapped individually, they freeze well.

Makes 15 big brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
½ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 large room-temperature eggs
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup chunky cranberry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan. Line the pan with parchment, with about 2 inches of overhang on either side.

Place the butter and unsweetened chocolate in a medium-size saucepan over low heat. As they melt, stir the mixture until it’s smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and use a wooden spoon to stir in cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar and salt. Add vanilla and stir again. Vigorously beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Add flour and stir until it is just combined.


Scrape the thick batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Dollop spoonsful of cranberry sauce all over the top of the batter. Use a knife to swirl the cranberry sauce into the batter throughout the pan. The goal is to make sure every cut brownie will have a swirl of sauce.

Bake until the edges just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool the brownies in the pan on a wire rack. When completely cool, use the overhanging parchment to lift the brownies out of pan and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut them into 15 squares.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Cranberry Sauce Phyllo Triangles in process. If you’ve got leftover cranberry sauce, you can find it a good home in these hors d’Oeuvres. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Herbed Goat Cheese and Cranberry Sauce Phyllo Triangles

These triangles can be made in advance and frozen, in a single layer, then baked from frozen.

Makes 12 triangles


12 sheets rectangle phyllo dough, thawed
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
8 ounces herbed goat cheese, softened
½ cup chunky cranberry sauce

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.

Remove the phyllo sheets from refrigerator. Remove 1 sheet to work with and cover the rest of the stack with plastic wrap. Brush half of the sheet of phyllo with melted butter. Take the short end of the sheet and fold in half to meet the other short end. Brush with butter and then fold again. You should have a rectangle strip with a width of 4 inches. Brush with butter again.

Place 1½ teaspoons of goat cheese in the bottom corner of the strip. Top the cheese with a generous 1/2 teaspoon cranberry sauce. Fold the opposite corner of the strip up over the filling to make a triangle. Don’t press down, or the filling will spill out. Continue to fold triangle up (like you’re folding a flag) until a little extra piece of phyllo is remaining. Brush the triangle with butter and seal the extra piece of dough. Place on the prepared baking sheet, seal side down. Repeat with  the remaining 11 pieces of phyllo. Separate the triangles by at least 1 inch on the baking sheet.

Bake the triangles in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Some filling may escape but that’s to be expected. Remove baked triangles from the oven and cool them on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.

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