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Best Healthy Cranberry Recipes For Thanksgiving And Christmas

Updated on November 10, 2015

An Old Tradition Comes to Our Table

In Ohio during cold winters, the local Native North Americans used their dried cranberries and blueberries in a variety of dishes for their families. On the trail during a hunt, they took pemmican, which is a combination of berries, meat, nuts, and whatever fat is available - from goose grease to bear grease to today's butter - or even lard.

We have found cranberries and blueberries to give the human today many health advantages, so why not serve cranberries during the Winter Holidays? The recipes below are different than the cranberry sauce of your youth and you may enjoy them more than you can imagine.


During cold winters, the eastern Woodlands groups of Native North Americans used their dried cranberries and blueberries in a variety of dishes.

Cranberry bog on a farm like that of my grandfather.
Cranberry bog on a farm like that of my grandfather. | Source
5 stars from 1 rating of Cranberry Recipes!

Cranberry Relish - an Alternative to Cranberry Sauce


  • 1 Bag of fresh cranberries, about 12 to 14 ounces these days.
  • 1 Cup water
  • ½ Cup sugar or honey (Half of the usual amount that most recipes require!)
  • 1 Medium-sized seedless orange, cut into small pieces, skin and all
  • 1 Small grapefruit, seeds removed, cut into small pieces, skin and all
  • 1 Large lime, seeds removed, cut into small pieces, skin and all
  • 1 Large lemon, seeds removed, cut into small pieces, skin and all

Making Pemmican at the Calgary Stampede


Instructions for Cranberry Relish

  • Cut the fruits (except the cranberries) into 1-inch pieces after removing seeds.
  • Place all fruit into a medium to large non-reactive cooking pot.
  • Add water and sugar and mix thoroughly
  • Cook over medium-high heat until all of the cranberries have popped and the sauce has become moderately thick.
  • Remove pan from heat to the counter top and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Optional: Stir in ½ Cup nuts, if desired - walnuts or pecans.
  • Place relish in a food storage container or a covered bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. The cranberry relish will become thicker and the flavors will blend nicely.

Alternative Method For Cranberry Relish

1) Wash all of the fruits and place (with nutmeats if desired) into a food grinder.

2) Grind ingredients to a coarse chop and place into a large bowl.

3) Add honey or sugar and refrigerate overnight.

4) Easy! - No cooking necessary!

Cranberries, 1 Cup (8 ounces)

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 Cup
Calories 46
Calories from Fat0
% Daily Value *
Fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 12 g4%
Sugar 4 g
Fiber 5 g20%
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 2 mg
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Cranberry Dip

Ingredients for a tart-savory dip you will love!

  • A 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
  • ¼ Cup minced scallions or green onions
  • 2 Tbsp fresh jalapeno peppers with seeds removed, finely minced
  • ½ Cup plain table sugar
  • ¼ Cup cilantro leaves, coarsely minced
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (or powdered/ground ginger is fine). One time, I used candled ginger and that was good as well.
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp onion juice
  • 1, 16-ounce Tub of cream cheese
  • Garnish: Washed and dried cranberries, mint & cilantro leaves, chopped chives.


  • Rinse, drain, and check cranberries, removing any soft or bruised/odd-colored fruits.
  • Chop berries by hand or use a food processor on pulse, but not until they are mush, just chopped.
  • Put chopped berries in a large mixing bowl and add the juices, onions, jalapeno peppers, sugar, cilantro, ginger. Mix well with a large stirring spoon.
  • Place a piece of plastic stick-wrap over the bowl put the bowl in the refrigerate overnight to let flavors marry and mellow.
  • Next day, using a medium platter or relish tray, place cream cheese (you can even mold it with a gelatin mold for added interest) in the center and put the cranberry dip on top.
  • Surround the dip with slices of fresh baguettes, toasted if you like.
  • Garnish platter with a few whole cranberries, mint leaves and cilantro leaves, and chives.

I paddled a canoe through a cranberry bog at Buckeye Lake, Ohio and found the experience to be like visiting another world.

Cranberries in a bog.
Cranberries in a bog. | Source

Cranberry Pie

Ingredients for one of my most favorite pies.

  • A 12-oz. bag of fresh cranberries, washed and dried, chopped coarse
  • 2 Tbsp grated orange zest
  • 3/4 Cup milk
  • 1/3 Cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 Cup sugar or honey
  • 3/4 cup Bisquick-type baking mix (or you can make your own baking mix)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray a 10" diameter pie pan with a non-stick, low calorie cooking spray.
  • Mix the cranberries and orange zest together well.
  • Spread fruit into the pie pan.
  • Mix remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat the mixture until it is smooth.
  • Pour this mixture evenly over the fruit.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes (less for a glass pie pan than for a metal pan), until a kitchen knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and set the pie in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.
  • Serve with vanilla yogurt, whipped cream, or ice cream, if you like; but it is great without a topping.


© 2015 Patty Inglish MS


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