I love comparative taste tests—pitting multiple foods against each other in head-to-head tasting combat. But I don’t get to do it often for logistical reasons (how can I simultaneously have Amy’s Ice Creams (Texas) and OWowCow (Pennsylvania)?).

The assignment to bring cranberry sauce for 30 people to Thanksgiving this year provided the perfect opportunity for a little competition. Because, why have cranberry sauce one way when you can have it three ways? Honestly, I probably would have carved out time to do this even if I was still working. But it was fun, so I’m posting about it.

I’ve been interested in making Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish ever since hearing Susan Stamberg talk about it on Morning Edition years ago. When searching for the recipe, I learned that Garlicky Cranberry Chutney is Susan’s favorite, so clearly I had to make that one too. Next, I got an email with a link that led me to this Spiced Cranberry Sauce recipe (and I then saw it posted at a spice market as a suggested recipe, reinforcing the need for me to try it).

The verdict? None of the recipes is perfect as is—at least for me. I came to realize that I envision sweeter cranberry sauce at the actual Thanksgiving meal, so I’ll be making the third recipe with a few tweaks. As the other two are on the savory side, I think either would be perfect with the leftovers (if you’re lucky enough to have any). In the meantime, I’m enjoying lots of cranberry sauces with yogurt, oatmeal, and occasionally straight from the container.

Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish, the one that started it all: Mine got to the desired Pepto-Bismol pink. The relish actually tasted better after sitting in the fridge for two days because the onions and horseradish mellowed, but it was still tart.

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish

Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish

Garlicky Cranberry Chutney: Too garlicky! When opening the container of this chutney a day or two after making it, I was overwhelmed by the garlic smell. The chutney didn’t actually taste as garlicky as it smelled, but the odor was too strong to get to the tasting part. It was the thinnest consistency of the three recipes. If I were to make it again, I’d cut down on the garlic—I can always add more later, but as I learned here, I can’t take it out once it’s in there.

Madhur Jaffrey's cranberry chutney

Madhur Jaffrey’s cranberry chutney

Spiced Cranberry Sauce: Too gingery! I like ginger quite a bit. My extended family? Not nearly as much. I’ll be adding a lot less ginger when I make the big batch. I like how thick this cranberry sauce is and with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, it tastes like the holidays.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Spiced Cranberry Sauce