For years, as a child at the 1970s American Thanksgiving table, I too believed that cranberry sauce was always cylindrically shaped, with neatly organized parallel rings encompassing it. That little wobbly dish seemed a required fixture on the holiday table, that someone might very well miss if absent. Though it felt far from “food” and as a result, usually went untouched. Drawing on ideas of recipes like a sour cherry sauce, or a deeply flavored Indian chutney, I came up with my own condiment that I would actually want to add to my holiday meal to enhance its flavor, not mask it. I eliminated a lot of the sugar found in most cranberry sauce recipes (up to a cup of white sugar was common). It’s on the tart end of the spectrum, but balanced, with lovely spice notes that will be beautiful with the richness of holiday dishes. I think it would also be outstanding dolloped on top of a bowl of Greek yogurt for breakfast, and pretty great pureed and used as a base for a holiday prosecco cocktail.

Spiced Cranberry, Ginger, and Pear Sauce [Vegan]


2 1/2 cups



  • 12 ounces (3 cups) fresh cranberries
  • 2 bosc pears, very ripe, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 three inch cinnamon stick
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ cup agave


  1. Combine cranberries, pear, ginger, water, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, and cardamom in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  After about 5 minutes, add the honey.  Cook for about 5 minutes more, until the berries have collapsed and the pear had started to breakdown and dissolve.
  2. Will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, and will also freeze well.
  3. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.