CraCranberry Sauce with a kick!

How to make Cranberry Sauce with a Surprise

How to make Cranberry Sauce…with a Surprise Kick

and Prepping for a Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving week is here. Is your turkey thawed yet?

One of the top questions a Butterball Turkey Talk-Line representative said on a radio show I caught : ‘When should you start thawing your turkey?’

Depending on the weight of the turkey, You should start the Thursday or Friday before Thanksgiving. This is about one week out to safely thaw in the refrigerator.

Especially if you plan to deep fry your bird you need to have a fully thawed and dried turkey. Otherwise, a frozen turkey meeting a pot of hot oil is extremely dangerous!

Do you brine your turkey?

In recent years I have played with different brines for our turkey (especially when we have wild turkey).

This year, I have a whole new plan for our turkey.

My plan is to separate the dark meat from the breast meat-leaving the bone in just to separate the dark form the white meat.

Just in case you are wondering why…

The different meats are done at different temps. When the dark meat reaches 180 degrees it is done, while the white meat needs to reach 165 degrees.

It is an art to cook the bird without drying out the white meat and getting the dark meat done.

So I believe I can solve this problem if I separate the meat when I cook them. And I will be able to play with 2 different ways to brine or marinade the turkey.

Why not, right?

For the dark meat my plan is to give it  some ‘Mojo’ influence brine. Mojo is basically citrus juices and seasonings-no heat just a lot of flavor.

Oh and I plan to cook the dark meat low & slow in my pressure cooker which doubles as a slow cooker.

This is very similar to the Cook’s Essential Oval Pressure Cooker I cook with*:

For the breast meat, I am going to mix a packet of ranch dressing with a healthy oil and put this under the skin, over the skin and in any crevice I can get to this into.

And I will roast this in my convection oven Thursday morning since it won’t take as long to cook as it does for a whole bird.

And I thought I would share my timeline for prepping and cooking this week:


  • SUNDAY- make sure turkey continues to thaw in fridge and make pie crusts-make a total 5 pie crust (2 pie crust for the apple crumble pie using apples in my freezer from apple picking, 2 for the pumpkin pies and a pie crust for leftovers! I plan on making my Tex-Mex Pot Pie with turkey leftovers (make an extra pie crust & keep in freezer)
  • MONDAY- turkey has to be thawed so I can separate the meat. Marinate separately and keep in the fridge. Grate the cheeses needed for macaroni and cheese, make 3 batches of cranberry sauce. Any last-minute grocery shopping today.
  • TUESDAY- rotate and flip dark meat, make apple & pumpkin pies, cut up fresh loaves of Italian bread to get stale for dressing
  • WEDNESDAY-A.M.-take turkey out of brine and keep uncovered to dry out skin in fridge until tomorrow. Season & cook bread for dressing P.M.-have the kids to help peel potatoes and keep in water. And get the kids help set the table. Prep Brussels sprouts and make cinnamon rolls to proof overnight in fridge. Before I go to bed, brown dark meat in pressure cooker then set to slow cooker (planning to cook 12 hours about 200 degrees). Prepare the buffet in dining room and layout dishes I plan to cook in & serve in.
  • THURSDAY 6 A.M.-take cinnamon rolls out (which should have proved over night). Check on dark meat (determine time left and rotate meat if needed). Bake cinnamon rolls for breakfast (eat off disposable here!). After breakfast assemble corn pudding (my new favorite southern side dish-will share this soon!), dressing and start quick yeast rolls (Red Star Yeast recipe). After clean up part 1, boil potatoes for mash and take the turkey breast out (to allow it to come to room temp about 1 hour before I cook it). Mid Morning-Cook Turkey in bottom convection oven, place potatoes to stay warm in a crock pot, make macaroni & cheese and yellow rice (cooked on stove top), assemble dressing and prepare quick roll recipe. Clean up part 2, In top oven bake corn pudding and dressing. While both dark & breast meat rest for about 30-40 minutes, bake quick yeast rolls and roast Brussels sprouts and gravy.
  • Eat around noon…whip heavy whipped cream for pies and enjoy. Clean up part 3 (not me-recruit the family!)

This is just a ‘plan’ for cooking so we can eat around noon(ish). And while things probably won’t go exactly as I plan, it’s not worth stressing and getting upset. I know it will come together and taste delicious!

Do you want to hear something funny? I do NOT need to cook a turkey this year.

We are eating Thanksgiving at my sister-in-laws for dinner and I am in charge of a few sides, rolls and desserts. Easy peasy to do!

But the years that I don’t cook a turkey at home, it just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving because the leftovers are not a plenty. So that’s why I will cook a turkey.

My sister-in-law makes a FANTASTIC turkey! She & her husband are so hospitable and always have such a beautiful set up. I love Thanksgiving at their place-I really do!

No matter who hosts, we always share leftovers. But it is still not the same without a ton of turkey around. I want them to have plenty of turkey leftovers!

And I want my family to graze on turkey  leftovers, too.

Pumpkin pie for breakfast-YES please!

But only if we have leftovers. So I make 2 pies-one for us & one for them!

Do you eat cold turkey & dip it in cold congealed gravy like I like to do? And I love big spoonfuls of cranberry sauce all by itself!

I. Love. Leftovers.

But I need to reinvent leftover turkey so we don’t get tired of eating the same thing. And that is where my Tex-Mex Chicken Pot Pie recipe comes to mind. But I’ll just make it with leftover turkey!

Do you call it cranberry ‘sauce’ or cranberry ‘relish’?

Cranberries for sauce

I call it sauce.

My mom & I were the cranberry sauce eaters in my home growing up. And it has pained me to sit at a Thanksgiving Feast where there wasn’t any cranberry sauce.

I think turkey needs the sweet and tart compliment especially if eating a wild turkey. Wild turkey is more gamey tasting than what we buy at our grocery stores.

Turkey and cranberries belong together. So to keep from having Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce again, I will always bring some with me.

And no, I am not opposed to the jiggly stuff in the can!

I grew up eating it and loved it. So I don’t judge if you eat the canned stuff-it’s good, too!

But you can bet I make a lot of homemade cranberry sauce! I plan to make some for our meal, and some to take  to my sister-in-laws.

My recipe for homemade cranberry sauce starts with fresh or frozen cranberries.

This cranberry sauce recipe is simple and easily tweaked to give you a new dish

Place your liquid and sugar in a deep pot, allow to come to a simmer and add your cranberries.

Triple batch for cranberry sauce-the small pot is for cranberry sauce with a kick
Triple batch for cranberry sauce-the small pot is for cranberry sauce with a kick
with cayenne pepper, lime zest & lime juice
with cayenne pepper, lime zest & lime juice

Stir as needed. If you listen carefully, the cranberries will pop as they cook, which is normal. Cook until it starts to get foamy and thicken as the pectin develops. About 15 minutes if the cranberries are not frozen.

cranberries as they begin to pop
cranberries as they begin to pop

Allow to cool; serve at room temp or chilled.

For a new twist try this: add a teaspoon of ground ginger (or grate fresh ginger) and cook with a juice. Or try it with cinnamon instead!

For kick & a twist try this: add a pinch (or a tsp) of cayenne pepper to cook with pineapple juice, lime zest & lime juice.

I made some with cayenne pepper, lime zest and a juice of half a lime. It has a very subtle & delayed hint of heat. It’s not going to burn your mouth but just a nice change-up to your Thanksgiving Feast.

Wishing you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


cranberry sauce with a pinch of cayenne pepper & lime
my cranberry sauce with a pinch of cayenne pepper & lime

Cranberry Sauce

This recipe comes together quickly and can served warm or cold. This can be made 2-3 days advance of your Thanksgiving Feast

18 minPrep Time

18 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • 1 cup of liquid of choice: either water, orange juice, pineapple juice, pomegranate juice or apple cider
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of raw sugar (or any white sugar and the amount depends on what liquid you use and how sweet you like your sauce to end up being-I usually stay around 3/4 cup)
  • 1 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries (about 3 & 1/2 - 4 cups)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • or 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • If you prefer a sweeter cranberry sauce, a squeeze (or 1/2 tsp) lime juice gives a new hint


  1. Place all ingredients in a deep heavy bottom pot on medium heat. Stir as needed allow to simmer. Don't be alarmed when the cranberries pop as they cook, which is normal. Cook until it starts to thicken about 15 minutes. Stir & allow to cool. This recipe can be doubled.
  2. For twist try one of these: 1) add a teaspoon of ground ginger (or grate fresh ginger) and cook with a juice. 2) Or try with a tsp cinnamon 3) For kick & a twist, add a pinch of cayenne pepper and tsp of lime juice.
Cuisine: All American | Recipe Type: VERY Easy

[the_ad id=”229″]

*The links in the post for product are affiliate links.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *