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Cranberry Chimichurri: This Thanksgiving, Think Outside the Can

Even lovers of the old-school cylinder of cranberry jelly will make room on their plate for this. 
By Published Nov. 9, 2022

Recently, I asked my dad to describe his ideal Thanksgiving dinner in one word. His response: “traditional.” That’s Chuck Fairman for you. He’s a stoic, funny Vietnam veteran—a retired auto-body mechanic whos worn the same black tennis shoes, blue jeans, and monotone, one-pocket t-shirt since before I was born. Let’s just say he’s comfortably set in his ways.

So guess what he did after I told him that I was replacing his tried-and-true cylinder of sliceable cranberry sauce with a homemade cranberry chimichurri. He showed up to my house on Thanksgiving with a can of Ocean Spray. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

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Ever the dutiful son, I made sure my father’s favorite sauce made it to the table, carefully unmolding the tube of cranberry jelly and taking pains to keep every little ridge immaculately intact. But you’d better believe I also made sure to pass the bowl of chimichurri directly to him, pointedly telling the table how happy I was with the recipe and how deliciously it paired with the deep-fried turkey I had been developing. 

To his credit, he obliged, dabbing a couple of teaspoons onto the edge of a slice of turkey breast. He took a bite. Anyone unfamiliar with Claude Charles Fairman wouldn’t have known it, but the next words out of his mouth were very high praise: “It’s not cranberry sauce, but it’s pretty good!” 

I wish I could say that my dad ignored his slice of canned cranberry sauce for the rest of the meal or that he dove back into the chimichurri for seconds and thirds. But a real family gathering is no fairy tale, and Chuck doesnt part with his traditions lightly when it comes to Thanksgiving day. What I can say is that not a drop of that chimichurri remained in the serving bowl by the end of dinner and that three people asked me for the recipe. 

Lucky for me, I’d made a double batch, keeping some in the fridge just in case we needed more. Because the next day when it came time for my dad’s real favorite food of Thanksgiving—turkey sandwiches—quietly and without making a big deal about it, he heaped two generous spoonfuls of that chimichurri onto his bread. And the day after, he did it again. So is this recipe bound to be your new favorite pairing with turkey? Make it this year and find out.

Cranberry Chimichurri

Serves 10 to 12 (Makes about 1½ cups)

Time: 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting

  • ¾ cup dried cranberries, minced
  • ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper


Combine all ingredients in bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld before serving.