5 Unique Ways To Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Sometimes cranberry sauce is relegated to the “meh” pile of leftovers after a holiday meal but I’m here to tell you that is a dang travesty and a waste of one of the best flavor boosters out there. 

I LOVE cranberry sauce. It’s vibrant, it’s mouth-puckering, it’s full of health benefits, and there are a surprising amount of things you can do with it other than spread it on the side of your holiday turkey. 

Today I’m gonna share with you 5 unique ways to utilize leftover cranberry sauce, from swirling it into plain yogurt to baking it in muffins and adding it to BBQ sauce. This is the list that’s gonna give you swoony eyes the next time you spy the leftover cranberry sauce that everyone else has forgotten about. 

Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce in Your Desserts

Leftover cranberry sauce isn’t just for savory applications, folks! It’s a banging addition to a ton of different desserts, too. 

1. Cranberry Thumbprint Cookies

Skip the jam and use leftover cranberry sauce in your holiday cookies this year: 

  1. Make the dough for thumbprint cookies (this is the recipe I make every year), roll them into balls, and place them at about 1 inch apart on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil. 
  2. Use your thumb to make an imprint in the balls of dough and bake the cookies as directed. 
  3. Once the cookies are out of the oven and are cool enough to handle, add the cranberry sauce. Take any leftover cranberry sauce from the fridge, mix very well until it’s easily spreadable.  If you find the cranberry sauce to be too tart, mix in a teaspoon of white sugar. 
  4. Fill the indent left from your thumb with the leftover cranberry sauce and let the cookies sit and cool to room temperature and the sauce set. 

Then be like me and serve the cranberry thumbprints with coffee for a perfect holiday breakfast treat. 

2. Cranberry Banana Bread

Once you’ve made a basic banana bread batter (I’ve been using this recipe my entire life, can’t recommend it enough), pour it into its baking vessel. Before placing the pan in the oven, swirl in leftover cranberry sauce, using a spoon to gently stir it into the batter. 

Once the bread is cooked, you’ll have pockets of mouthwatering cranberry sauce interspersed with moist, not-too-sweet banana bread. It’s a marriage made in heaven. 

Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce In Your Breakfasts

Cranberry sauce can also be used to spice up your breakfast. From breakfast rolls to breakfast bars, toppings, and flavour in plain yogurt, let your leftover cranberry sauce help wake you up with its tart deliciousness! 

3. Top your oatmeal in the morning

Oatmeal is rich in fibre and contains lots of nutrients like Vitamin B and E and minerals such as magnesium. Plus, it’s easy to make, keeps you fuller for longer than, say, cereal, and it’s super cheap to keep on hand. 

Don’t just stick with the basic oatmeal toppings like brown sugar and nuts. Swirl in a little cranberry sauce for a kick! 

Again, just like with the thumbprints, you can sweeten the cranberry sauce with a little white sugar if you find it to be too tart. 

4. Smoothies

A smoothie is the best kind of liquid breakfast, packed with all the nutrients and energy to last you for the morning. 

I like adding cranberry sauce to smoothies already loaded with banana, chia, yogurt, and spinach. 

Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce in Your Side Dishes

We all know that cranberry sauce goes well with turkey. But once that turkey is gone, cranberry sauce can still be the star of the dinner table by pumping up the flavor of your side dishes.

  1. Cranberry Rice Pilaf

If you’ve got a boxed (or homemade) rice pilaf on hand, cranberry sauce can take it to a whole new level. Once the pilaf is made, top with cranberry sauce. It pulls the whole dish together!

In my monthly Thrive Market box, there’s always a few boxes of this easy rice blend I turn to on busy weeknights as a quick side. My kids LOVE rice, and we eat it as leftovers over a couple of days. Adding a few spoonfuls of cranberry sauce to the dish adds that punchy flavor that only cranberries can provide, keeping things a little more interesting.  

Now, you see? Instead of being the tart, “what do I do with this?” leftover from your holiday meal, you’ve got 5 more reasons to keep on loving cranberry sauce well past the big meal. What’s the first thing you plan on adding your leftover cranberry sauce to?