Disclosure: Thank you to the Cranberry Marketing Committee, USA for partnering with me to share more about my favorite ways to cook with cranberries. 

Are you seeing the bounty of cranberries in your grocery store? I am so pumped to see those cool weather recipe must-haves lining the aisles because that means one thing: Thanksgiving is coming. And man, do I love Thanksgiving food. I know sometimes Thanksgiving can give off a stuffy vibe: crazy family, that corn pudding your aunt makes that no one actually likes, and ‘tradition’ dishes that just don’t get you excited but you make anyway because it’s tradition. But that’s what Friendsgiving is for. For those that live far from family (I have a brother literally in the furthest reaches of the west coast), celebrating the season with friends is something we’re seeing more of. Your crew, your tribe, your people you spend most of your time with are important to you and celebrating together is something we do. Since cranberries are America’s Original Superfruit® and are one of only three native North American fruits we eat today, it’s one way to bring tradition to the nontraditional. You know what else is worth celebrating? Your chance to win $2,000 for your next dinner party, so stay tuned until the end of the post to learn more!  

Healthy Spiced Cranberry and Cabbage Thanksgiving Side Dish

Today’s recipe uses winter produce and spices to bring a healthy vegetable side dish to life. Now, not many people get psyched about cabbage. It can taste strong and be tough. But with this blend of flavor and texture, this cabbage slaw with Asian pear, pistachio and poached cranberries had us coming back for seconds. And thirds. By cutting the cabbage into thin pieces, toughness is way less of an issue while keeping the crunch. With that sneaky bit of cream (seriously) it helps mask the bitterness super tasters observe. The best part is taking everyday, cool weather ingredients and blending them to make something a little bit more modern and delicious. Plating is half the fun, and although this plate is modern for pictures, you can easily toss the cabbage, cranberries and sauce together and serve with the pears and pistachios on top. I know this recipe doesn’t exactly look ‘homey Thanksgiving’ but the flavor pairings are spot on. Friendsgiving is your chance to experiment as a foodie and even photograph some of the gorgeous dishes. The health benefits are also undeniable! Cranberries contain unique polyphenols that are just not in other produce. It’d be silly, not to use them!

Cranberries are easy and convenient to use in any form, making them a perfect fit for sweet or savory meals and recipes. What I typically do every year is purchase a massive bag of cranberries or several smaller ones and freeze what I don’t use. They freeze and thaw beautifully so I can use them in recipes for months to come! 

Healthy Spiced Cranberry and Cabbage Thanksgiving Side Dish

Here are other ways to use the many forms of cranberries:

  •  If you find dried cranberries in the store, use them as a snack or onto of your morning oats. They’re also great in salad, trail mix, cookies and also sauces. 
  • Frozen cranberries are your go to for seasonal smoothies, sauces, relish, chutney and more. In fact, here’s a seasonal cranberry smoothie I posted last year about this time!.
  • We can’t forget about the possibilities with cranberry juice cocktail. Think outside the box here. It’s a start to a salad dressing or sauce, and of course is a starting ingredient for a cocktail or punch! Here’s a cranberry martini from a few years ago. 
  • Cranberry sauce. I understand the polarizing abilities of cranberry sauce. I admittedly wasn’t always a fan. But in the past few years it has become somewhat of an obsession when it comes to sandwiches. Fruit jelly or jam on sandwiches? AWESOME. So let’s think about the leftover turkey sandwich abilities here, okay? You can even use it on my fall butternut squash quesadillas
Healthy Spiced Cranberry and Cabbage Thanksgiving Side Dish
Healthy Spiced Cranberry and Cabbage Thanksgiving Side Dish
Healthy Spiced Cranberry and Cabbage Thanksgiving Side Dish

Healthy Spiced Cranberry and Cabbage Thanksgiving Side Dish

/// Ingredients ///

  • 1/2 cup + 2 T sauvignon blanc or other dry white wine (you can also use a brut champagne for this to finish off a bottle)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 t fennel seeds
  • 1 inch finger of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • zest of 1/2 a medium orange
  • 1/2 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 red cabbage (small-ish 5” diameter), finely sliced
  • 1 medium Asian pear, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios

/// Directions /// In a small pan on the stove, bring wine, cinnamon, fennel, ginger and orange zest to a light simmer (about 3 minutes). Add cranberries and honey to the pan. Simmer until a cranberry pops (it happens and it makes the sauce a beautiful color) or they become tender and brighter in color. Remove the cranberries from the sauce with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl for later. Turn the heat to high on the stove and reduce the poaching liquid into a syrup (about 5 minutes).

To start the cabbage slaw, remove the outer leaves from the head of cabbage. Cut out the core. Shred 1/4 of the cabbage into thin slices using a large knife. Slice an Asian pear into thin slices, keeping the skin intact. 

Add heavy whipping cream to a bowl (or a standing mixer bowl) and beat until whipped and fluffy. Watch closely and be sure not to over-beat to where it begins to clump. Crack open pistachios, de-skin the papery part and chop. 

To compose individual dishes: plate cabbage and Asian pears. Add dots of cranberry syrup and cranberries. Add dots of whipped cream (piped through a bag), top with pistachios. Want to serve it family style? Toss the cabbage, sauce and cranberries in a large bowl. Top with Asian pear slices and have two small dishes of the whipped cream and pistachios separately to preserve their textures! Have guests add their own cream and pistachios to their plates. Serve with turkey, stuffing and your other favorite Thanksgiving foods!

Healthy Spiced Cranberry and Cabbage Thanksgiving Side Dish



There are so many amazing ways to use cranberries whether it be in food, beverages or even holiday decor! We want to see how you’re using them so see how you can enter the #FriendsgivingCranberryContest by posting your photos to win $2,000 for your next dinner party. 

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.