Cranberries have long been a staple of the Thanksgiving table, providing some much needed color and a little zing to what can be a heavy meal. A source of antioxidants, and high in fiber and vitamin C, there’s a lot to love about this spunky berry. But don’t limit your cranberry consumption to a can of sauce. Here are four cranberry-inspired recipes that you can make with your kids this holiday season.

Cranberry Pear Sauce

After making this simple sauce from scratch, you’ll never to back to store bought. The spices in that jar of pumpkin pie spice you have in the cupboard work well in this and many other autumnal dishes.

  • 3 cups fresh cranberries, sorting and removing any soft ones
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  1. Chop the pears into ½ inch chunks.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the cranberries, pears, sugar, water, pumpkin pie spice. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and partially cover the pan with the lid.
  3. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have all popped (which is why you want to partially cover the pan!).
  4. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Makes about 3 ½ cups of sauce.

Cranberry Cheesecake

This is a terrific alternative to pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert. Not only is it something you can make in advance (you want the cheesecake to refrigerate overnight) but the cranberry pear sauce recipe above does double duty, serving as the topping to this creamy dessert. Ginger snaps make for a very seasonal cheesecake crust.


  • 1 ½ cups ginger snap crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon butter


  • 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
  • 1 cup of cranberry pear sauce (see recipe above)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the crust: In a saucepan over low heat, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Once melted, allow to cool. Meanwhile take the last tablespoon of butter and grease the sides (not the bottom) of an 8-inch springform pan. Sprinkle about a ½ cup of the ginger snap crumbs by turning the pan and tapping out the excess (similar to greasing and flouring a cake pan).
  3. Mix the melted butter with the remaining cup of crumbs and cup of sugar. Cover the bottom of the pan with the mixture and press firmly. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.
  4. To make the filling: In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until soft. Add the sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and beat until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, until the mixture is thoroughly combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Bake for about 45 minutes. The cheesecake will be slightly firm, but will not have browned. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. (Do not release from the mold until the next day.)
  6. Serve with a dollop of cranberry pear sauce on top of each slice of cheesecake.

Cranberry Harvest Salad

This salad has some color and crunch and rounds out the Thanksgiving menu nicely.

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons cranberry juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • one 5-ounce bag mixed lettuce greens
  • 1 cup candied pecans
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup gorgonzola cheese.
  1. Whisk vinegar, cranberry juice and mustard to blend.
  2. Add cheese, mashing with the tines of a fork to blend into a creamy mixture.
  3. Once blended, whisk the vinaigrette while you drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  4. Dress the lettuce greens in the vinaigrette. Sprinkle the top with pecans, cranberries and remaining cheese.

Cranberry Mocktail

Here’s a quick mocktail to make for the kids at the party. Garnish each drink with a whole cranberry and orange wedge and the kids will feel oh-so-grown-up with this fizzy concoction

In a glass pour one part chilled cranberry juice to one part orange juice. Stir. Add one part ginger ale and top with a garnish.