Trace it all the way back to the first Thanksgiving, where Native Americans are thought to have shared this native North American berry with the Pilgrims, but few holiday tables have been complete without a cranberry jelly, jam, relish, port, or sauce since then. Over the last half-century, this humble berry has been making Thanksgiving appearances mainly in the form of a can – sluuurrpped onto a fancy plate all rigged, wiggly and slippery.  Some people love it, some hate it, but that’s a debate up for another day.

This Thanksgiving, take cranberries back to their more native and respected roots with this fresh and super simple sauce.  Really as easy as simmering the berries with some liquid and a sweetener, I take mine up a notch by adding some citrus, spices, and herbs.  I like my sauce a tad tarter on the sweet-tart scale, but you can adjust your sweetener amount to taste.  A natural sugar, like a raw organic honey adds a robust sweetness compared to regular table sugar.

Besides providing a festive color to your holiday spread, cranberries are rich in vitamins (C, A, and K), disease-fighting antioxidants and are low in calories.  Plus, my version is sure to be less polarizing around the dinner table than that jellied stuff!  It’s an incredible complement (and dunking medium) to the classic and savory Thanksgiving staples like turkey, stuffing, and green beans!

Strawberry Basil Mint Smash Spring Cocktail


  • 2 12oz bags whole fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Zest from half an orange and 1/2 a lemon (This microplane is my  go-to for quick and easy citrus zesting)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (Grating nutmeg is a breeze with this little microplane – I use mine almost every day!)
  • Several whole rosemary springs ( I’m just looking for that earthy rosemary flavor here, not actual pieces of rosemary  in the sauce.  Leaving the rosemary whole on their stems makes it easier to pick out later on.)



  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan in the order listed above.
  2.  Heat on medium-high until mixture comes to a boil.  Keep an eye on it, stirring frequently, to preventing burning on the bottom of the saucepan.
  3. Reduce heat to low, simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture cranberries have softened and mixture has thickened.
  4. Turn off heat and let cool before serving or storing.  This recipe can be made a few days ahead and stored in the fridge (I highly recommend this as the flavors become more concentrated and the sauce become a little thicker with time to set. )Since we usually travel somewhere else for Thanksgiving, I make this earlier in the week, throw it in the cooler, and dish it out in a bowl on turkey day.
  5. That’s it! A no stress, make-ahead side dish that is super pretty, delicious, and packable too.
Strawberry Basil Mint Smash Spring Cocktail