Foods on the Thanksgiving table tend to skew beige or brown: Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing or dressing, bread and even the pie. Thank goodness for cranberries. They’re perfect for bringing a pop of vibrant red color and mouth-puckering, fruity flavor to the spread.

On their own, you can work fresh or dried cranberries into just about every dish, whether that’s the main, sides or desserts. But the can’t-miss for many of us is the cranberry sauce. The mix of sweet and tart makes it the cranberry MVP.

Cranberry sauce can be smooth or chunky, loose and spreadable or firm and cuttable, berries only or chock full of other fruit. Serve it as a condiment or a side. To get a handle on the scope of options, we’ve collected some of our favorite recipes from our archives. This staple can typically be stored in the refrigerator for at least a week or frozen for longer.

Red Wine Cranberry Sauce, above. The red wine adds complexity, despite the short cooking time. The finished sauce is on the looser side, rather than firm and jelled. Pomegranate juice makes a great swap for the wine, as long as you bump up the sugar a bit.


Tart Cranberry Relish. You don’t even have to turn on the stovetop for this vibrant, no-cook condiment spiked with orange or cherry liqueur (pomegranate molasses is a good alcohol-free option).


Bourbon Cranberry Sauce. This sauce boasts only four ingredients, and one of them is bourbon. Need to know more? It serves a huge (or small) family, and leftovers will be most welcome on any future sandwich or, dare we say, waffle.


Jellied Cranberry Sauce. This recipe proves that basic can be great — the only ingredients are water, sugar and cranberries. The finished product has a texture similar to that of canned sauce, but the flavor is less sweet.


Figgy Cranberry Sauce. This is a mash-up of a few Washington Post recipes — the Red Wine Cranberry Sauce above and an Italian-style Cranberry and Fig Sauce. Dried figs lend texture, while white wine and a finishing splash of orange liqueur boost flavor.


Cranberry Sauce Mold. This recipe from my grandmother has been a staple at my family’s Thanksgiving table as long as I can remember. Sweet and tart, the retro Jell-O mold can be both condiment and side.


Cuban-Style Cranberry Sauce. This sauce, which includes cocoa powder, lime zest, orange juice and ground allspice may remind you of mole.