When you think of cranberries, your next thought is probably Thanksgiving and Christmas…or urinary tract infections.
I guess it makes sense that cranberries are a staple of the holiday season, because that’s about the time we harvest them in Wisconsin. But these tart little berries deserve way more credit than a side dish at your next turkey fest.
We should be gobbling up these babies all year round!
Cranberries are not only Wisconsin’s largest fruit industry, they’re the Badger state’s official fruit. And although Wisconsin is most known for its cheese, the dairy state just happens to be the #1 producer of cranberries in the world! Our amazing state harvests more than 60% of the entire nation’s crop.
As for those irritating UTIs, it’s true – cranberries can help. But, they also rank in the top five foods with the highest amount of antioxidants. They can even help prevent cancer – among other things.
Cranberries have been used and enjoyed for centuries. Native American Indians had their hands on these floating red gems way before we did. They ate them… they made medicine out of them… they colored rugs and clothes with them.
So this year, as you remember the pilgrims and Indians – and as you give thanks for your plentiful harvest on Thanksgiving – be extra proud of that cranberry sauce you’re eating!
Or if you really want to impress your family and soar above and beyond the traditional dish – share one of these delicious cranberry recipes with them.
And don’t forget to save a few to try throughout the New Year!
12 Cranberry Recipes for the Holidays & Beyond
Here are 13 delicious and unique ways to use fresh, frozen or dried Wisconsin cranberries all year round. Enjoy, and don’t forget to come back to leave a comment and tell us how it turns out for you!
1. Cranberry Sangria
This cranberry wine cocktail is super festive and could totally be your new Thanksgiving beverage tradition. But it would also be a hit at any party you throw! Or, go ahead and sip one down after the kids go to bed – we’re not going to judge.
You’ve gotta get those antioxidants one way or another, right?
This flavorful recipe combines a bunch of fresh cranberries, brandy and fruity red wine with a taste of citrus and a bit of sweet. You can also use frozen cranberries which makes this cocktail an option during any season.
Plus, there are two ways to drink it.
Serve it chilled over ice – or warm it in the oven and enjoy a hot cranberry toddy.
- Find this recipe at myrecipes.com
2. Cranberry Bliss Cookies
You can whip up these chewy, cranberry treats in less than an hour. Sure, share them on Thanksgiving or Christmas, but you’d better bring the recipe for your envious relatives.
These beauts will definitely stand out on the dessert tray. But they’re not only gorgeous – everyone who tries them thinks they’re stinkin’ brilliant.
If you’re one of those people who lick the cream cheese frosting bowl clean, you’ll be excited to know these cookies are topped with white-chocolate cream cheese frosting! Some people who’ve tried this recipe also suggest adding a bit of fresh-squeezed orange juice to the frosting too. Cranberries and citrus seem to be a very popular combination.
Since this one calls for dried cranberries, which are pretty easy to find no matter the time of year, save the recipe and keep it in mind whenever you need to make a delicious treat!
- Find this recipe at gimmesomeoven.com
3. Cranberry Salsa
I don’t blame you if you’re thinking about what a totally unique and awesome side dish this would make on Thanksgiving.
Why not switch things up a little?
We know how easy it is to get tapped out on green bean casserole, squash and cranberry sauce that stays the same shape as the can it came in – especially if you have more than one feast to wolf down on the same day! BARF.
We found two good-lookin’ cranberry salsa recipes for you to try…
One comes from Vegan Stoner (pictured-top) and is super simple to make. It combines fresh cranberries, onions, OJ, jalapeños, garlic and a pinch of sweetness.
Perhaps it’s one to consider the next time you get the munchies?
The other recipe is more of smooth, saucy texture and blends lots of different flavors. In addition to fresh cranberries, it has pear, apple, lime, orange, cilantro, jalapeño and onion.
Serve this fun appetizer on Thanksgiving – you know you want to!
4. Pork Loin With Homemade Cranberry Sauce
We all know cranberry sauce is a staple of the holidays. So, I guess it’s really not that creative. But, what about drizzling it over the top of a a juicy pork tenderloin that’s been seared and roasted?
You probably don’t want to have pig instead of turkey on Thanksgiving. But you could use the leftover cranberry sauce to make this meal a few days later!
It’s okay to use the canned stuff for this recipe, but I think if you go the extra mile to make homemade cranberry sauce, you deserve some creative credit! This recipe seems simple to make. You just need some fresh cranberries, juice, pure maple syrup and orange or lemon zest.
Cooking the tenderloin is pretty straight-forward too. The Pioneer Woman even includes her recipe for creamy mashed potatoes with gold taters and cream cheese. Oh man – doesn’t it all sound so good?
- Find this homemade cranberry sauce recipe at pioneerwoman.com
- Find this pork loin recipe at pioneerwoman.com
5. Cranberry Pistachio White Chocolate Bark
I’ve heard pistachios and cranberry make a tasty combo. Mix them up with some white chocolate, and it’s like a little piece of heaven. And it makes the perfect holiday colors too. So festive!
It’s also a good alternative to the usual peppermint bark you see pop up everywhere during the holidays.
The Brown Eyed Baker, who created the recipe, suggests using a quality white chocolate brand like Lindt. That way you know it will be smooth and creamy and not chalky or too sweet. It should be in the candy isle and is pretty easy to find.
With just those three simple ingredients, you’ve got a perfect treat anytime you want it. Or, this would even make a nice gift all wrapped up in little goodie bags or a Christmas tin.
- Find this recipe at BrownEyedBaker.com
6. Orange-Glazed Cranberry Bread
I think I might have drooled a little when I came across this recipe. Yes, please!
The flavors of tart, fresh berries and pecans rolled into a super moist bread might already have you smackin’ your lips together.
But, even better, it has a crumbly homemade cinnamon streusel on top and is drizzled with a sweet, zingy orange glaze. Sold!
Stock your freezer with some fresh berries while they’re in season, because this cranberry bread could become your new breakfast favorite.
- Find this recipe at SallysBakingAddiction.com
7. Cranberry Chicken Salad
Have you ever eaten a chicken salad sandwich made with fresh cranberries? What about one that’s made with sour cream?
Interesting – right?
Of course it calls for a little mayo too. But this chicken salad recipe also has you add grapes, cashews and apple cider vinegar. Just cook the chicken, cut it up and mix it with all the ingredients. Presto! Talk about an easy, quick and flavorful homemade meal made with fresh Wisconsin cranberries.
Find this recipe and others at habelmancranberries.com
8. Cranberry Apple Pie With Cinnamon Swirl Ice Cream
Okay, so before you hem and haw about how cranberry apple pie is hardly creative, give me a chance to explain why I think this specific recipe is!
Personally I get all giddy over recipes with healthier ingredients. This one definitely floats my boat! So if you’re like me, you should love this too.
One awesome thing about this recipe is that it’s raw. Fresh cranberries and apples. Freshly grated ginger and cinnamon. No baking required, and that means you’re getting the max health benefit from all those cranberries!
Plus, it has a ginger cookie crust – YUM. The cinnamon swirl ice cream is homemade too.
First of all, you must know that it’s a bit more complicated than some of the recipes I mentioned so far. At least for me it is. But the only “D” I ever got was in my high school cooking class. Good thing I’m not making your pie!
- Find this recipe at RawFoodRecipes.com
9. Crock-Pot Cranberry Applesauce
If you’re still trying to use up your apples from this year’s harvest, this is a good solution. Plus, cranberries are the perfect way to jazz up your regular old applesauce!
It’s so easy to make this sauce – you just prepare the apples, throw in some fresh cranberries and let the crock pot do its job.
You can decide how much sweetness to add in. And perhaps some cinnamon or nutmeg? I say get as creative as you want!
- Don’t forget to check out our article on six great apple orchards in Northeast Wisconsin for next season.
The Crock Pot Ladies made their sauce with Golden Delicious apples – but Macintosh, Johnathan, Gala and Red Delicious are all good for making sauce too.
Make a huge batch and freeze it. Keep it around all year long! Kids dig it. And it would actually make a nice side dish at any holiday gathering.
- Find this recipe at CrockPotLadies.com
10. Pecan Cranberry Jello Salad
I bet you’ve eaten your share of cranberry Jell-O on Thanksgiving. But have you ever had it served on top a bed of lettuce or spinach?
Sounds crazy… But definitely worth a try!
That white stuff on top is a mix of whipped cream, cream cheese and marshmallow. WOAH – I’ll lick that spoon!
Now imagine that on top of sweetly tart cranberry gelatin with pineapple and pecans too.
Can’t you just taste Thanksgiving in your mouth? But why do we only remember deliciousness like this during the holidays?
More cranberry Jell-O – more!
- Find this recipe at CuriousCuisinier.com
11. Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad
This is the perfect fall harvest salad. It’s simply fresh greens with dried cranberries, red and green apples, walnuts and feta cheese. There’s something so delicious about feta cheese!
One person who’s tried this salad combo says she candied the walnuts and tried it with pears. I bet that tastes really good too.
There is also a homemade apple cider vinegar dressing recipe to go with it.
Why not serve this as part of your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? It’s simple, festive and enjoyable. Especially because it’s a refreshing way to start off any carbo-loaded holiday feast!
- Find this recipe at LeCremeDeLaCrumb.com
12. Cranberry Apple Crisp
And we can’t forget about this fall favorite…
Fresh cranberries are an awesome way to spice up your usual apple crisp.
In the video, she says you don’t have to be an expert baker to conquer this one. That’s good news for me.
It’s yet another perfect and simple way to enjoy Wisconsin’s official state fruit. But for this one, I gotta say we should be thankful we live in the dairy state. The vanilla ice cream makes a perfect match.
More Wisconsin Cranberry Recipes
- Cranberry Discovery Center’s Award Winning Recipes
- Wisconsin State Cranberry Grower’s Association Recipes
- Wisconsin Cranberry Growers’ Favorite Recipes – Cook book by Peggy Anderson
- Ocean Spray Cranberry Recipes
Ways to Celebrate & Discover Wisconsin Cranberries
Wisconsin Cranberry Festivals
We wrote all about the big Warren’s Cranberry Festival in our post about 12 food-filled festivals in Wisconsin. It’s the fest with the biggest berry contest. Plus, you’ll get to try things like deep fried cranberries on a stick and cranberry maple syrup over pancakes.
But there are at least four others throughout the state.
Visit Wisconsin Cranberries to read more about each one!
Wisconsin Cranberry Highway
Next year before October is done, take a trip on the Cranberry Highway. It stretches 50 miles through Wisconsin’s beautiful cranberry county. The fall colors along with the “sea of red” cranberries and occasional wildlife you’ll get to drive past are quiet worth the trip.
Plus, you’ll pass by the Cranberry Discovery Center in downtown Warrens, which is a must stop.
Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center
You’ll learn everything about the history of Wisconsin cranberries at the Wisconsin Cranberry Museum. It’s an interactive way to learn something neat and have fun with your family.
You’ll also get to make a stop in the test kitchen to try special treats like cranberry jelly beans and even cranberry ice cream!
Wisconsin Cranberry Marsh Tours
Wisconsin Cranberries highlights 7 public farms to go to for a cranberry marsh tour in central and northern Wisconsin.
I never thought to do this, but I think it would be amazing to see! And beautiful too. It would make for fun fall day out.
The Warrens Craberry Festival is always the last weekend in September and is free to the public. You can take a marsh tour, enjoy the farmer’s market with crafts, food, antiques and lots of cranberries – along with a ton of other fun events and sites to see.
It’s a hands-on unique harvesting experience for people of any age. And you can even take some fresh cranberries home with you.
Find out about more public tours on wiscran.org
When I discovered cranberries were Wisconsin’s official fruit crop, I was like “what – it’s not cherries?!” But there are reasons why the cranberry rules. I think they are a little bit underrated!
I know this opened my mind to something new and exciting that we can look forward to come next harvest season.
How about you? Have you made some unique cranberry dishes? Have you been on the Cranberry highway or taken a marsh tour? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.
If you liked this article, subscribe to WhooNEW.com under Scoots the Owl in the top right. And don’t forget to Like WhooNEW on Facebook, too.
Featured image courtesy of Cranberries Anyone? via Flickr.com