13 Delicious Ways To Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Leftover cranberry sauce is a given with holiday meals. Rather than let it sit in the fridge until it gets tossed in the trash, there are a lot of ways you can repurpose it to make extremely tasty food and drinks. You may be surprised at just how tasty the sweet and tart flavor pairs with other ingredients. And you don't necessarily have to eat it just with turkey, either.

We've poured through dozens of recipes to collect tried-and-loved options for repurposing cranberry sauce. There are plenty of ways to add it to ingredients that may already be in your fridge or dishes you were already planning to make anyway. These ideas work whether you're using homemade cranberry sauce with whole pieces of cranberry or canned cranberry sauce.

The ways you can use it start at breakfast and don't end until your final cocktail of the evening. If you're finding yourself out of ideas, let us jump-start your creativity with our list of 13 different categories of foods and drinks that are perfect for using up your leftover cranberry sauce. We're confident you'll be taking our ideas and running with them in no time, making your own delicious cranberry sauce creations.

1. Topping breakfast items

If you have a breakfast sweet tooth, don't miss adding leftover cranberry sauce to your favorite sweet breakfasts. It's wonderful as a topping for any pastry in your kitchen, from bagels to croissants. In fact, we can't think of any sweet breakfast dish with which it wouldn't work. The breakfast table is a great place to unleash your creativity when it comes to repurposing leftover sauce.

You can turn ordinary oatmeal into cranberry oatmeal by mixing in cranberry sauce. If it's still not sweet enough for you, you can stir in some maple syrup or honey, too. It makes a fun layering option for overnight oats and yogurt parfaits as well.

It's excellent with French toast or in a French toast casserole. You can also mix it into waffle batter to make cranberry waffles. For added cranberry pleasure, go ahead and top your waffles with some cranberry sauce, too. You can take it a step further by turning it into cranberry chicken and waffles.

2. In appetizers

Having leftover cranberry sauce can be the perfect excuse to make appetizers. The easiest is cranberry bruschetta, which requires topping buttery, toasted slices of French bread with cream cheese, fresh basil, and cranberry sauce. If you also have leftover turkey, you can add it on top, too.

If you have a mini muffin tin, you can make mini cranberry cup appetizers. You'll fill the muffin tins with pie dough rounds and fill them with a mixture of egg yolk, cream cheese, orange zest, and chili powder. After baking, you'll add a dollop of cranberry sauce to the top. You can also make cranberry bites in mini muffin tins. Before baking, you'll place puff pastry dough in each muffin slot and top it with brie and cranberry sauce. A nice breakfast variation includes adding cooked ground sausage underneath the cheese.

Another appetizer option involves sweet potato rounds. After the sweet potatoes are sliced and baked, you'll top them with goat cheese, walnuts, honey, and cranberry sauce.

3. In baked goods

There is no end of baked goods that can benefit from adding cranberry sauce. It's easy to use your favorite existing recipes and add your leftover sauce in the right place.

To make cranberry coffee cake, start with a normal coffee cake recipe. You'll pour half the cake mix into the pan, add a layer of sauce, and then pour the other half on top before baking. You can also try making a cranberry and orange coffee cake by adding orange zest with candied oranges on top. The same thing works with your favorite fruit muffin recipe (like a blueberry muffin recipe). To make cranberry muffins, just stir in three-fourths of a cup of cranberry sauce instead of your normal fruit. You also might add some orange zest if you like the pairing of cranberry and orange together. Another fun one is to make a cranberry upside-down cake, substituting a can (or as much as you still have) of sauce for pineapples in a pineapple upside-down cake recipe. This recipe also tastes good with pecans sprinkled throughout the sauce.

Cranberry sauce tastes great as the topping for cheesecake or instead of jam in thumbprint cookies. It's also an excellent option to use as your fruit in a cranberry crisp.

4. In other desserts

While slipping some cranberry sauce into baked goods is easy enough, it's also easy to slip it into other types of desserts. In fact, you don't even have to do any baking for most of them.

There are several ways you can add it to desserts. To make a no-bake cranberry pie, combine it with ingredients like cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, orange zest, and whipped topping and chill it for six hours in a graham cracker pie crust. Another fun dessert is a cranberry trifle, which gets layers that may include sweetened cream cheese, cranberry sauce, Jell-o, and cubed pieces of white or yellow cake, topped with whipped cream. It's also a good mix-in for ice cream — either pre-made or homemade.

There are also a couple of throwback dessert recipes that work great with cranberry sauce. One is cranberry Jell-o salad, which involves adding cranberry sauce, crushed pineapples, diced apples, and chopped walnuts to raspberry Jell-o before setting. Another is cranberry fluff, which involves a mixture of your leftover sauce, mini marshmallows, crushed pineapple, a tad of lemon juice, and whipped topping.

5. With cheese

If you haven't guessed yet from our list of appetizers and baked goods that contain cream cheese and brie, there's something about the sweet and tart flavor of cranberry sauce that makes it taste great with all types of cheese.

One fun way to use it is as the topping for baked brie. If you want to get fancy, you can use it as a topping for brie en crout. You'll simply top brie with the sauce, wrap it in puff pastry dough, and bake.

There are various ways to pair it with cream cheese. The easiest way is to pour the sauce over the cream cheese and serve it with graham crackers for dipping. Similarly, you can mix the sauce and cream cheese together to make a pink breakfast spread for items like bagels or waffles. Go a step further by placing the sauce and cream cheese together in a casserole dish, topping it with shredded, aged cheddar cheese, and baking it to turn it into a hot dip. If you prefer it cold, another option is to make a cranberry cheese ball by mixing the cream cheese and cranberry sauce together with ingredients like nuts, honey, and cinnamon.

6. In smoothies

If you like sweet, tart smoothies, you'll wonder why you never tried adding leftover cranberry sauce to your smoothies before. With the cranberry sauce already being sweet, you'll want to refrain from adding extra sweeteners.

You'll start with your smoothie with your milk of choice, yogurt, ice, and leftover cranberry sauce. A good place to start is with a half cup of each ingredient. Although, the more ingredients you add, the more people you'll need to help you drink the smoothies.

Now, you'll want to start adding in your extras. For a simple version, you can just add rolled oats or a banana to bulk it up. Another good combo includes adding strawberries, bananas, mixed greens, and orange zest. Yet another option is to add bananas, apples, tangerines, orange juice, and vanilla flavoring. Of course, there are all kinds of seeds and other mix-ins you can add to make it your own. And a dollop of whipped cream on top will turn it into a real treat.

7. As a meat glaze or sauce

Cranberry sauce is already a sauce, which makes it the obvious choice to use as ... well ... a sauce. In like manner, it functions well as a glaze for meat. You don't even necessarily have to do anything extra with it beyond offering it as a side sauce accompaniment for meats like roast beef, just as you do for turkey.

There are many ways you can use it as a sauce. Cranberry sauce is an excellent ingredient for dressing up your BBQ sauce for pulled pork. Another way it works great as a sauce is with meatballs. It's an excellent addition to Swedish meatballs. Another meatball option is to throw some pre-cooked meatballs in a saucepan or crockpot to simmer with cranberry sauce and BBQ sauce. You can also use it as a sweet-and-sour component in sweet and sour pork.

There are also ways you can combine it with other ingredients to turn it into a glaze. To make a glaze for a pork roast, just mix it with orange zest, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper to put on top of your roast before cooking. Combined with brown sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, and allspice, you can use it as a delicious ham glaze. Mixed with ingredients like ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, orange juice, and orange zest, it makes an excellent glaze for chicken wings.

8. In Thanksgiving leftover creations

Since you already know that cranberry sauce goes well with Thanksgiving ingredients, it makes sense to add it to any Thanksgiving leftover creations you make. There are plenty of ways you can reuse it along with other leftovers to make completely new dishes that combine savory and sweet flavors.

For example, many people combine their Thanksgiving leftovers into one dish to make a Thanksgiving leftover casserole, including everything from turkey and stuffing to veggies and cranberry sauce. You can also combine stuffing, turkey, and cranberry sauce together to stuff an acorn squash before baking. You can use leftover turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and even mozzarella cheese as the filling for leftover Thanksgiving egg rolls. Another idea is to make enchiladas or quesadillas with turkey meat and include the sauce as an ingredient inside them.

It can also be an ingredient in dough-based dishes. One idea is to make Thanksgiving leftover rolls using strips of pastry dough layered with turkey and cranberry sauce and rolled like cinnamon rolls before baking. Leftover Thanksgiving pizza is also a thing and a good place to enjoy your leftover sauce.

9. In sandwiches

Sandwiches don't have to just be savory. Sometimes, a hint of sweetness is what you need to elevate it from ordinary to extraordinary. So, when you're putting your leftover turkey or other meats into sandwiches, don't forget to add the cranberry sauce.

The most basic way to add it to a sandwich is to use it as your condiment, along with your favorite meat. After Thanksgiving, this might mean you're making a turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich. There's no need to stop there, though. You can add stuffing or skip the stuffing and pile on some veggies like lettuce, tomato, and onion. You can even add crunch with sliced apple. And why not give it a dusting of cinnamon while you're at it or some bacon? Some cheeses that taste good with it include Camembert, brie, and gouda. If you have some leftover rolls, you can make sliders instead — as simple or as fancy as you please.

You can also use cranberry sauce as a grilled cheese upgrade. Just that one added ingredient can take your grilled cheese to a whole new level.

10. In a salad

After that, having the type of heavy meal that lands you with leftover cranberry sauce, you may be more in the mood for a lighter meal like salad. But don't accidentally leave the sauce in the fridge when you make your salad. You can either use it as a mix-in for your salad or in the creation of a homemade salad dressing.

Cranberries absolutely belong in turkey salad. So, if you're using your leftover turkey to make one, don't neglect to add cranberry sauce as well.

Cranberry sauce is also a wonderful addition to vinaigrette for a salad full of greens and vegetables. The simplest one requires whisking or blending together leftover sauce with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and water. You can make it as heavy or light on the sauce as you want. Another simple one involves whisking together cranberry sauce, lemon juice and zest, a pinch of nutmeg, and olive oil. If you're willing to get out your blender, you can try whizzing together an emulsified version with some leftover sauce, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, a garlic clove, and grapeseed or olive oil.

11. In sauces

Sometimes, the best way to use a sauce is to combine it with another sauce to make a completely new sauce. You can use your new cranberry-flavored sauce as an unusual way to give an added kick to sandwiches or for dipping.

It mixes especially well with BBQ sauce since both sauces already have a sweet and tart flavor profile. Use your new cranberry BBQ sauce as a sandwich spread or as a meat topping. Another option is to combine it with Dijon mustard. Some people like to make it super sweet by adding brown sugar as well. You can use your cranberry mustard as a sandwich spread or for dipping nuggets, fries, pretzels, or anything else you normally like with mustard.

There are some more unusual ways you can use it as well. Consider mixing it with pesto sauce. Cranberry pesto sauce can seriously upgrade your leftover turkey sandwich or a grilled cheese sandwich. Another option is to combine it with mayonnaise. Cranberry mayonnaise is great for sandwiches or as a condiment for turkey or chicken salad.

12. With veggies

When it comes to pairing cranberry sauce with veggies, you'll want to think of the types of veggies that already have a bit of sweetness to them. Some root veggies and winter squashes are just begging for you to pair them with the sweet and tangy flavor of cranberry sauce. However, they're not the only veggies that work.

Try adding cranberry sauce to carrots with other ingredients you'd use to make glazed carrots, like butter, brown sugar, and lemon juice. You can also make a cranberry glaze to go on top of the halves of a butternut squash for baking. You can add a splash of orange juice for added flavor and maybe even some garlic if you want a pronounced sweet and savory contrast. We won't blame you if you add other ingredients like cinnamon and nutmeg, brown sugar, and even walnuts to the glaze. Sweet potatoes also pair well with cranberry sauce.

It's also great with sweet potatoes. You can use it to make a glaze for peeled, sliced sweet potatoes before baking. Or you just might want to add it on top of a traditional baked sweet potato as a sweet and tangy topping. If you're looking for a cranberry sweet potato side dish that takes almost no work at all, try dumping a can of sweet potatoes, a can of sliced peaches, and a can of cranberry sauce together and microwaving them for a couple of minutes to heat them.

13. In cocktails

Leftover cranberry sauce makes a lovely addition to a variety of cocktails. These drinks work a lot better with homemade cranberry sauce with whole chunks of fruit in them. However, if you mix it well enough, the canned type can also work. These work best if you start with your cranberry sauce on the bottom of the drink and stir or shake the drinks vigorously to combine. Icy blended versions may work even better (especially with the canned type) since the blender will do so much of the work for you of distributing the cranberry sauce throughout the drink.

There are several drinks you're likely already familiar with that taste great, with a couple of tablespoons of cranberry sauce. It makes an excellent addition to mojitos and margaritas. For cosmos, you'll just swap out the cranberry sauce for cranberry juice. You can make a dark and stormy as usual, just adding in a couple of tablespoons of cranberry sauce, but it's also nice if you substitute the lime juice for orange juice. If you'd like to try adding it to an old-fashioned, consider swapping out the Angostura bitters for cinnamon bitters.

If you're a gin fan, try adding cranberry sauce, lime juice, and a couple of dashes of bitters. You can also pair it with a shot of vodka and top off the glass with some sparkling water. Both the gin and vodka drinks taste great with a rosemary sprig garnish.