Cranberry sauce to make ahead: Recipes and ideas on how to store it properly for the ideal Thanksgiving dinner!

by Gabby

There are exactly 2 days left before Thanksgiving is finally here. You probably already have a list of all the food you are going to cook. No one will skip on this year’s cranberry sauce. If you are in a rush, and you are preparing a big dinner, why not make some of the dishes ahead of time. This is the perfect time to start! You want to do your hair and make up on Thanksgiving? Save plenty of time and try this cranberry sauce to make ahead recipes now!

Cranberry sauce recipes to make ahead

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Is it better to make the cranberry sauce ahead of time? Yes, make it ahead, since the homemade sauce can stay fresh covered, and in the fridge for about a week. You will not have to rush and think about 10 dishes. If you can make it before the Thanksgiving dinner, this will save you so much trouble. Remember, if you are hosting the dinner, that does not mean you should not enjoy it yourself. Also try to make your Thanksgiving appetizers ahead of time.

The ideal make-ahead recipe

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For this make-ahead recipe you will only need a few ingredients and 15 minutes of your time. We are not going to use brown sugar as in the most recipes. I like to use maple syrup, since it is a natural sweetener and the recipe is a great to make ahead of time. Refined sugar is hiding a lot of health risks, and I am trying to minimize it this year and the next. If it is possible for our Thanksgiving dishes to be a little bit healthier, why not? It is also possible to customize your cranberry sauce and make it according to your preferences. Let’s check out the ingredients list!


  • 1 bag fresh cranberries (you can also use frozen)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup (you can use honey as well)
  • 1 cup (230 ml) water
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon


  1. Start by pouring the water in a small pan. Then add the cranberries. Stir well.
  2. Add in the maple syrup, orange juice, and the cinnamon.
  3. Heat on medium heat and mix well.
  4. Let the sauce simmer, then reduce to low heat and leave it for about 10 minutes. The cranberry sauce should be with a thick consistency.
  5. If needed, add a little but more syrup. This sauce can be served warm right away, or refrigerate and serve it cold.
  6. If you have some lime zest left, you can sprinkle on top when serving.

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How long will homemade cranberry sauce keep?

If stored properly, the homemade cranberry sauce can stay fresh for about 10 to 14 days in the fridge. In the freezer, it can last for a longer period of time. It will be still safe to eat it for one year. As you know the freezer can keep the food’s properties, once the food is frozen. How to store the cranberry properly, so it can last longer? If you are planning to make it a few days before Thanksgiving and put in the fridge, then store it in a glass jars and put the lid very tightly on. There must be no air flow. If you want to freeze it, use a zip-top bags or a freezer-safe bags and again, make sure there is no air.

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What to do with leftover cranberry sauce?

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It is completely normal to have leftover Thanksgiving food. Do not worry, there are plenty of things to do with it and a lot of recipes to try out! You can even try to create delicious dishes with your leftover turkey. The ideas with what can you do with the leftover cranberry sauce are so many. You can add it to your yogurt breakfast, make oat muffins, make cranberry meatballs, add it to your sandwiches, use it as a topping on your cheesecake, or combine it with pulled pork. But what if I tell you that you can also create lovely Thanksgiving cocktails with this sauce? That will certainly make your holiday more interesting and will add some spice. Let’s see my ideal cocktails during this time of the year!

Cranberry bourbon cocktail

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You want to know what to make with your leftover cranberry sauce? I say try this absolutely stunning red, cranberry bourbon cocktail. It is delicious, and it is very easy to make. Check out the ingredients!

Ingredients for 1 cocktail:

  • 1/8 cups (30 ml) leftover cranberry maple sauce
  • 1/8 cups (30 ml) bourbon
  • cranberry juice to taste (1/8 cups or 30 ml is recommended)
  • ice
  • rosemary


  1. If your leftover cranberry sauce was stored in the fridge, grab a small pan and heat the sauce on medium heat. Let it simmer for a bit.
  2. Remove from heat and drain the sauce. Make sure there are no cranberries left and no chunks. Let it cool.
  3. Fill a cocktail shaker with lots of ice, the cranberry sauce, the bourbon, and the juice. Shake very well.
  4. Fill a glass with ice and pour the cocktail in it.
  5. Decorate with rosemary springs and enjoy!

Also read: Martha Stewart Thanksgiving Dressing Recipe with Wild Mushrooms

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