Healthy Thanksgiving Sauces That Taste Amazing

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

When it comes to the turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and other classic Thanksgiving dishes, many people take the necessary steps to ensure that their meal is healthier and more nutritious than in years past. However, one thing that many Americans tend to overlook during Thanksgiving is the sauces. As an important part of any Thanksgiving meal, it's helpful to find ways to make these sauces healthier so that they are not high in fat, calories or sodium. Below you'll find a list of some delicious recipes for Thanksgiving sauces that are much healthier than the standard versions found in many homes on this holiday.

Madeira Sauce

This rich sauce is perfect for any Thanksgiving turkey. It adds plenty of flavor without the added sodium of a brine or the fat and calories found in many gravies. This recipe is made for a turkey that is about 12 pounds.


  • 1 ½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup Madeira
  • 1 ½ tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
  • Pepper to taste


  1. After your turkey has cooked, allow it to rest over a pan. Pour the drippings from the pan through a sieve into a glass bowl.
  2. Place the glass bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  3. While the bowl is in the freezer, add the Madeira to the pan and cook it on the stove over medium heat for about one minute, stirring often.
  4. Remove the bowl from the freezer and scoop the fat off the top to discard.
  5. Add the remaining contents of the bowl to the pan and bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the cornstarch mixture and whisk together until completely incorporated.
  7. Add pepper to taste.

Herbed Gravy

Most recipes for Thanksgiving gravy call for the drippings from the cooked turkey, which means that a lot of fat is added just with the first ingredient. With this recipe, you can cut down on the fat significantly by using the giblets and neck from the turkey along with chicken broth. Meanwhile, the fresh herbs turn this into a rich, robust gravy that you can enjoy with a variety of tasty Thanksgiving dishes.


  • Giblet stock (see directions)
  • 6 cups water
  • About 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place all the turkey giblets (except the liver) and the neck in 6 cups of water in a large saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Once the water boils, reduce it to a simmer and skim any foam off of the top to discard. Continue simmering and removing any foam for one hour.
  3. Strain the giblets and neck over a fine-mesh sieve. This is the giblet stock.
  4. Once your turkey is finished cooking, take the juices from the roasting pan and pour them into a glass measuring cup. Place the cup in the freezer. This allows the fat to rise to the top.
  5. After about 10 minutes, remove the cup from the freezer and scoop the fat off the top and throw it away.
  6. Add the juices from the resting turkey to the frozen juices. Then, add the giblet stock along with enough chicken broth so that the combined liquids equal 5 cups altogether.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk ½ cup of chicken broth and the flour until smooth.
  8. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat and add in the white wine.
  9. Bring the wine to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes.
  10. Add the 5 cups of liquid to the pan and increase the heat to high until it boils. Whisk often as the mixture cooks for an additional 8 to 12 minutes.
  11. Whisk the broth and flour mixture into the pan and boil for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  12. Remove from the heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve.
  13. Stir in the herbs along with salt and pepper to taste.

Pear-Cranberry Sauce

Even though cranberries are good for you, all the sugar in a typical cranberry sauce recipe makes it a pretty unhealthy addition to your meal. To keep your cranberry sauce healthy, use less sugar and rely on spices to boost the flavor profile. This recipe creates a low-calorie, high-fiber cranberry sauce that is both delicious and healthy.


  • 3 large ripe pears, peeled
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup cranberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ginger, minced
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 4-in. cinnamon stick


  1. Grate the pears into a large saucepan, ensuring that no seeds fall into the pan.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring the sauce to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer.
  4. Cook the sauce at a simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often to ensure the pears break down and the liquid is mostly absorbed.


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