Here’s a take: Cranberry sauce is the most versatile part of the Thanksgiving table. Think about it. A dab here or there instantly brightens that turkey. Can you incorporate bites of it into your serving of stuffing or mashed potatoes? Yes and yes. Maybe you bust it out early to serve with cheese and crackers. I wouldn’t judge you for using it to garnish pumpkin or apple pie, either. Perhaps you make tons to have enough for days of sandwiches.

Cranberry sauce is a veritable chameleon, too — sweet or tart, 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. Most of the time, it’s one of the only sources of acid on the table, so you’d be well-served to consider one or more of these recipes from our archives. No need to wait, either, as this staple can typically be stored in the refrigerator for at least a week.

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


Red Wine Cranberry Sauce. The red wine makes the sauce taste more complex, despite its 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.


Bourbon Cranberry Sauce. There are 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 it’s not as 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. You may be reminded of mole by this sauce that includes cocoa powder, lime zest, orange juice and ground allspice. This sauce pairs particularly well with cheese.