There are many things in the realm of processed food that puzzle me. How do they make the relentlessly velvety powder on things that are flavor-blasted? Why are there two Pop-Tarts per package when the serving size is only for one (not complaining... just curious)? Who decided that making potato chips that taste like sugar cookies was the right thing to do?

However, there is no mystery quite like the mystery of canned cranberry sauce.

Picture a lovely Thanksgiving spread. You have your crispy herbed turkey, golden stuffing (or dressing), fluffy sweet potatoes, and towers of rolls. Then there’s the cranberry "sauce," towards the center of the table, near the gravy. It’s there every year among the glorious, warm dishes, yet it’s the only thing that isn’t cooked, the only thing that’s shaped exactly like a can, complete with indentions... and the only thing that wiggles when someone sitting at the table laughs too hard. If you stop and think about it, the idea of serving this cran-gel is bizarre (not to mention, archaic). Thanksgiving has evolved--and your turkey day table deserves better.

I am not discriminating; cranberry totally deserves a spot at the feast. But I invite you to forget that shaking a sliceable burgundy gel log out of a can and onto your grandmother's china was ever a part of the prep routine.

Here are 8 delicious ways to do cranberry sauce so that... it actually resembles a sauce. May you live long and never return to the canned gel:


Keep it real with a traditional homemade cranberry sauce. It features cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, flavors that play wonderfully with sweet-tart cranberry.


This so-simple, 3-ingredient cranberry sauce delivers extra dimension by having you simmer the fresh berries apple cider.


This gorgeous option incorporates blueberries and brings a new level sophistication to the familiar "mixed berry" flavor profile.


Sugary dried apricots are a fun, unique way to juxtapose the tartness of cranberries, while sherry adds a rich depth to the sauce.


This one offers an immaculate texture, such an upgrade from gel. Cranberries and grapes tossed in maple syrup for sweetness, roasted, and then tossed in red wine vinegar to play up the tart. Yes, yes, yes.


Again, just 3 ingredients required here. This simple recipe is the perfect tangy and sweet combo.


Brown sugar, vanilla, and little extra time in a blender or food processor turns cranberries into a silky, slightly more indulgent turkey topper. It's super spreadable, too (i.e. perfect for a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich).


This cranberry beauty delivers a dynamic blend of flavors and textures. You will, no doubt, dress your turkey to impress with such a cranberry condiment.

By Hannah Haas Burkhalter and Hannah Haas Burkhalter