Cherried cranberries as part of our Thanksgiving feast

Grandma’s Cherried Cranberries

This coming week we celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.S. Though I have lived in Guatemala for the past five Thanksgivings, I still celebrate by making a feast for my family and guests. Though vegan menus are somewhat different from the Thanksgiving meals of my childhood, one dish remains constant: Grandma’s Cherried Cranberries.

When I was young, I spent hours with my Grandma in the kitchen. I was always underfoot as she and my aunt cooked a huge Thanksgiving dinner, as I hoped a few bits of pie crust would come my way. As long as I can remember, the cherried cranberries were a part of our celebration, and I continued the tradition after Grandma died.

These cranberries are called “cherried” because the cooking method causes them to remain mostly whole. The secret is in heating them slowly so only a few of them pop, and they don’t turn into cranberry sauce.

This recipe doubles or triples well.


  • 12 oz cranberries, washed and stems removed
  • 1 cup sugar (or less to taste)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp each baking soda and salt


  1. Mix the water and sugar in a medium saucepan until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  2. Add the cranberries, baking soda, and salt, and stir to combine.
  3. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the mixture comes to a boil. Make sure it’s really boiling: the soda will bubble and can fool you.
  4. Lower heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Don’t remove the lid.
  5. After 15 minutes of simmering, remove from heat and let cool. Keep covered until cool.
  6. Let cool, then remove the lid and place in a serving bowl. These can also be made a few days in advance and refrigerated.

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