Creative with Cranberries

Written by Lisa Larkin, Extension Associate

With Thanksgiving approaching, cranberries become a hot topic! Cranberries have been a staple at this holiday meal for years, but most people don’t know much about these fruits except that they make a delicious red sauce that is perfect for the holidays.

So what exactly is a cranberry?

The cranberry is a Native American wetland fruit which grows on trailing vines like a strawberry. Some cranberry growers also refer to these areas as bogs. Cranberries are grown in the northern part of the United States. Harvesting generally occurs between September and October, with the peak market period running through December. Cranberries are small and round with their color ranging from light red to deep scarlet. Because they are bitter and tart, most people prefer to eat them mixed into sweetened dishes, dried or made into juice.


This tiny fruit is packed with nutrients. Cranberries were recognized by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a nutrient-dense fruit. They are a good source of fiber and just an 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice contains 100% of the daily value of vitamin C! Cranberries also contain proanthocyanidins (PACS) that have the following health benefits:

  • Reduce risk of infection
  • Promote heart health
  • Protect against urinary tract infections
  • Decrease chronic inflammation associated with disease and aging
  • Support digestive health
  • Protect against gum disease
  • Aids in prevention again certain types of cancers


Have you ever asked yourself, what can I do with this can of cranberry sauce sitting in my cupboard? While cranberry sauce is common around the Thanksgiving holiday, there are many other creative ways to incorporate it into your diet throughout the year if you end up having leftover cans from the holiday or received a can from a local food pantry. There are many ways to get creative and make it exciting to eat for you and your family.

  • Use it as jam and spread on toast or with a peanut butter sandwich
  • Add some flavor to your meats by adding cranberry sauce as a glaze. Simply spread onto the meat of choice during the last 5 minutes of cooking
  • Mix it with some barbecue sauce for a unique, seasonal flavor
  • Boost your smoothies with cranberries to add nutrients and texture
  • Use in fruit desserts such as pies and cobblers


Here is a recipe that puts a cranberry twist on traditional apple crisp by adding that can of cranberry sauce sitting in your cupboard. Enjoy!



Cran-Apple Crisp

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4 apples, center removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 can (16 ounces) cranberry sauce
  • 2 teaspoons margarine, melted
  • 1 cup oatmeal, uncooked
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a bowl, combine the cranberry sauce and apples.  Pour into an 8×8-inch pan.
  3. Combine melted margarine with oatmeal, brown sugar, and cinnamon until well blended. Sprinkle over apple/cranberry mixture
  4. Cover and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes until the topping is crisp and brown.
  6. Serve warm or cold.



Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories: 200; Total fat: 2g; Saturated fat: 0g; Sodium: 20mg; Total Carbohydrate: 50g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 37g; Protein 2g; Vitamin A: 12 RAE; Vitamin C: 4mg; Calcium: 22mg.


For more information visit:  – the CCCGA (Cape Cod Cranberries Grower Association)

Post reviewed by Marni Shoemaker, M.S., RD


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