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Cranberry Relish

November 6, 2023

Move over canned cranberry sauce, we’ve got a new favorite side on the table! Crunchy, tart, and sweet, this cranberry relish recipe is the perfect accompaniment for all savory sides!


homemade cranberry relish in a bowl with a spoon made with cranberry, apple, orange, sugar, salt and lemon juice
Photography by Gayle McLeod

The ONLY Fresh Cranberry Relish Recipe You’ll Need

Cranberry relish is the no-cook, easy, fruity, zippy, crunchy condiment your thanksgiving table needs! The bright balance of sweet and tart complements and cuts through the heaviness of all the other sides – and it’s nutritious, too! While it only takes 15 minutes to make, it does need an hour in the fridge for all the flavors to meld together so plan ahead! This homemade cranberry relish is sure to convert all who might not like Classic Cranberry Sauce – but don’t believe us, try it for yourself!

fresh cranberries, diced apples, sugar, salt, orange slices and lemon juice in bowls to make cranberry relish
fresh cranberries pulsed in a food processor until coarsely ground

What’s the Difference Between Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Relish?

While both have a place on our thanksgiving table, there are staunch differences between Cranberry Sauce and cranberry relish (and don’t get us started on a delicious Cranberry Chutney!) Fresh cranberry relish is usually made from roughly chopped or shredded fruit such as cranberries, apples, oranges, and a hint of sweetener, plus sometimes, a variety of mix-ins that makes a vibrant slaw. The best part is that this cranberry relish recipe doesn’t require any cooking! On the contrary, cranberry sauce is made with cranberries (and only sometimes oranges!), a variety of spices, a good amount of sweetener, and a thickener, which is then cooked and stewed over the heat until jelly-like.

cranberries, apples and oranges that have been pulled in a food processor in a bowl with sugar, salt and lemon juice
cranberry relish being stirred in a bowl made with cranberries, orange, apples, sugar, salt and lemon juice

What Do You Use Cranberry Relish For?

This recipe for the best cranberry relish is a natural companion to turkey! So much so, we recommend pairing it with these 40 Best Thanksgiving Sides! It also goes great made the day before and slathered on toast like this Thanksgiving Breakfast. When the highly anticipated day is over, we like to top our sandwiches with it, like this Chicken Salad Sandwich or turkey sandwich. We also eat homemade cranberry relish all year long as a side to slow-roasted meats like this Roasted Tandoori Chicken or Prime Rib with Roasted Garlic and Horseradish Cream Sauce. Add it to a holiday charcuterie board or cheese plate with Whipped Feta, Nutty Carrot Dip, and Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip. Top your breakfast Belgian Waffle, spoon it over yogurt and Homemade Granola, or swap out the berries in this Berry Bruschetta with Whipped Yogurt Spread. The possibilities are endless for this healthy, tangy, crunchy cranberry relish recipe with orange.

What is Cranberry Relish Made of?

Classic cranberry relish is made from cranberries, a variety of fresh, rough chopped, or shredded fruits like apples, and usually, a pop of orange (hence, the ever so popular cranberry orange relish). Additionally, there is usually some type of sweetener and nuts or dried fruit!

For this recipe for cranberry relish, you’ll need

  • Fresh cranberries

  • Apples, such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp

  • Oranges

  • Sugar

  • Kosher salt

  • Fresh lemon juice

With optional add-ins such as

  • Jalapeño

  • Cinnamon

  • Fresh nutmeg

  • Nuts such as walnuts or pecans

  • Dried fruit, such as dried apricots, dried currents, or raisins

homemade cranberry relish in a bowl with a spoon made with cranberry, apple, orange, sugar, salt and lemon juice

How to Make Cranberry Relish

We’ve got the step-by-step instructions for how to make cranberry relish so it turns out delicious every time! This cranberry orange relish recipe is simple to make, using only raw ingredients with no cooking:

  1. Chop it! Using a food processor, chop the apples, cranberries, and orange. Pro tip: don’t over chop the fruits – what you're looking for is small pebble-like pieces of fruit (as you would a coleslaw!)

  2. Toss! Add in the salt, lemon, and any of your favorite mix-ins till everything is well combined.

  3. Rest! Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days before serving.

homemade cranberry relish in a bowl with a spoon made with cranberry, apple, orange, sugar, salt and lemon juice

Tools You’ll Need for Old Fashion Cranberry Relish

We Couldn’t Forget the Sweet Side of Thanksgiving!

While the focus for thanksgiving is on the savory side (hellloooClassic Sausage Stuffing and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes), we can’t help but dream of all the sweet ways to complement this feast:

We Are Berry Excited For The Holidays!

We can’t help but get excited when we hear the words cranberry relish! It reminds us of our family table and nothing is better than enjoying a nice meal with them! How did your cranberry relish come out? Show us by tagging us in your photos on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

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Cranberry Relish

  • Serves: 10
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  0 min
  • Calories: 99


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup diced apple, such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp
  • 1 medium orange, rind on, sliced and seeded
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from one lemon)

Optional add-ins

  • ½-1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup finely chopped pecans
  • ½ cup finely chopped dried apricots


  1. In the base of a food processor, pulse the cranberries until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl.

  2. Add the apples to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to the bowl with the cranberries.

  3. Add the oranges to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to the bowl with the cranberry mixture.

  4. To the same bowl, add the sugar, salt, lemon juice, and any add-in, if using. Toss until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days before serving. Will keep for up to one week.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories99
  • Protein0 g
  • Carbohydrates26 g
  • Total Fat0 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium30 mg
  • Total Sugars21 g

Cranberry Relish

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Deb

    How do we replace the sugar with honey in the uncooked cranberry relish?

    We have not tried making this with honey. One cup would probably be too much honey for this recipe so we'd reccomend starting much smaller and adding more to taste.

  • Jenn

    Very delicious! I used cinnamon and apricots from the add in list and it was so good.

    Thanks Jenn! Good choices on add ins.