Healthy Cranberry Recipes to Eat In the Fall (and Every Other Season)
The Health Benefits of Cranberries
Think cranberries are just for sauce? Think again. These nutritional powerhouses can be used in a wide range of healthy, tasty recipes to amp up your healthy eating routine.
Fun fact: Cranberries are one of very few fruits native to North America, and they typically grow wild on long vines in marshes and sandy bogs in the northeastern U.S. They can be eaten whole, dried, juiced, and powdered.
The health benefit you're likely most familiar with is their protective effect against urinary tract infections (UTIs). Though the research is somewhat mixed on whether they're truly effective, cranberry juice and supplements are frequently recommended for UTI treatment and prevention. Historically, cranberry fruit and leaves were used to treat bladder, stomach, and liver issues, as well as other conditions like diabetes and wounds.
However, cranberries have plenty of other noteworthy health benefits: For starters, they're a good source of vitamin C, which is important for immune system function and skin health. In a one-cup serving of whole cranberries (which clocks in at just under 50 calories), you get about 20 percent of your daily need of vitamin C. You'll also get about 4.5 grams of fiber and 18 percent of your daily need for manganese, which has antioxidant properties. Cranberries also contain phytonutrients (like quercetin, myricetin, peonidin, and cyanidin, to name a few) with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help protect against a variety of conditions and diseases.
Because cranberries are rarely consumed raw, though, you may not get all the benefits in its other forms. For example: Since cooking denatures vitamin C, you may get slightly less when you eat cooked cranberries; and because juicing extracts the fiber, you won't be getting much fiber from cranberry juice.
These cranberry recipes from dietitians will help you add variety and nutrients to your usual healthy eating routine.
High-Protein Cranberry Apple Oatmeal
Vegan Cranberry Ginger Quickbread
Cranberry Orange Quinoa Pudding with Sliced Almonds
This recipe from dietitian E.A. Stewart of The Spicy RD can do double-duty as breakfast or dessert. Bonus: You can make it ahead to enjoy later in the week.
Get the recipe: Cranberry Orange Quinoa Pudding with Sliced Almonds
Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf with Cranberries
Cranberry Pistachio Tuna Salad
Cauliflower Cranberry Superfood Salad
Pack a bunch of superfoods into one bowl with this salad from dietitian Karman Meyer. You'll get a hearty dose of fiber, plus lots of important vitamins and minerals and some plant protein from the chickpeas. If you can't stand raw cauliflower, you can cook cauliflower rice first until it's soft enough to be approachable and then add it to the rest of the ingredients.
Get the recipe: Cauliflower Cranberry Superfood Salad
Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Grand Marnier
Because it wouldn't be a cranberry recipe round-up without a few revamped cranberry sauce recipes, here's a boozy spin on a classic for when you want to add a little something extra to your plate. This recipe, created by dietitian Michele Sidorenkov of My Millennial Kitchen, features orange liqueur Grand Marnier.
Get the recipe: Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Grand Marnier
Make-Ahead Cranberry-Orange Kale Salad
Kale salads are a handy meal prep item because they tend to get better over time as the flavors have a chance to marinate but without the kale leaves becoming sad and wilted. The tart and sweet flavors of cranberry and orange work beautifully with the heartiness of the leafy greens in this recipe from dietitian Stephanie McKercher of the Grateful Grazer.
Get the recipe: Make-Ahead Cranberry-Orange Kale Salad
Fall Sorghum Buddha Bowl
Sorghum is a hearty and nutritious ancient grain that makes a no-brainer base for satisfying Buddha bowls. You can go savory or sweet with the addition of a cranberry-pear sauce from dietitians Kathy Siegel and Tracee Yablon Brenner of Triad To Wellness that adds another fall superstar, butternut squash. If you need to add more staying power, add an easy protein like eggs or hemp hearts for a plant-based option.
Get the recipe: Fall Sorghum Buddha Bowl
Mini Turkey Meatballs with Curried Cranberry Sauce
Turkey meatballs are a convenient healthy protein choice that's easy to batch cook for busy weeks. You can even store leftovers in the freezer. This recipe from Anne Danahy, M.S., R.D.N. of Craving Something Healthy gets a nice flavor twist from a curried cranberry sauce.
Get the recipe: Mini Turkey Meatballs With Curried Cranberry Sauce
Balsamic Maple Rosemary Roasted Veggies
It doesn't get much easier than a sheet pan of roasted veggies. This aromatic recipe from dietitian Sarah Schlichter of Bucket List Tummy gets an extra burst of color and flavor from cranberries cooked in with the vegetables. (Try these other sheet pan meal recipes for easy clean-up and meal-prep.)
Get the recipe: Balsamic Maple Rosemary Roasted Veggies
Butternut Squash and Cranberry Hemp Crostini
Because crostini are versatile and easy to assemble, it makes them a perfect for an appetizer—but you can also use them as a simple, no-fuss meal. Pair with a side salad or cup of your favorite veggie-rich fall soup. This recipe from dietitian Kara Lydon is sure to become your new favorite.
Get the recipe: Butternut Squash and Cranberry Hemp Crostini
Cranberry Apple Pepita Muffins
Cranberries work beautifully in muffins and play well with warming spices like cinnamon. You'll love these whole grain beauties from Diana K. Rice, R.D., The Baby Steps Dietitian. Enjoy one them for breakfast or a snack. (Here, even more healthy muffin recipes that are dietitian-approved.)
Get the recipe: Cranberry Apple Pepita Muffins
Cranberry Pecan Pie Bars
Instant Pot Cranberry Orange Sauce
An Instant Pot is a game-changer for cranberry sauce (and all these other genius Instant Pot recipes). Enjoy that homemade taste in half the time. This orange-kissed recipe from registered dietitian Marissa Moore is delicious on a Thanksgiving-inspired plate but equally brilliant on plain yogurt of a bowl of oats. Use leftovers to make salad dressing.
Get the recipe: Instant Pot Cranberry Orange Sauce
Pumpkin Cranberry Energy Bites
Calling all pumpkin fans! Celebrate fall flavors with these delish energy bites created by dietitian Kelly Jones. They're also nut-free, so safe if you want to share with the kiddos to bring to school or bring for a group with allergies. (Missing the nuts? Try some of these other energy and protein bites recipes instead.)
Get the recipe: Pumpkin Cranberry Energy Bites
Superfood Dark Chocolate Cranberry Bark
Sweet and Spicy Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce
Get the recipe: Sweet and Spicy Jalapeno Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe