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Cranberry Relish Recipe

5 from 6 votes

posted: 11/04/22

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Fresh Cranberry Relish is the easiest Thanksgiving recipe. It comes together in less than 10 minutes and can be made the night before. This Cranberry Orange Relish will add the perfect bright flavor to your holiday plate.

up close picture of a white bowl full of cranberry relish being spooned up by a golden spoon

Recently we posted this Homemade Stuffing recipe on our Facebook page and commented that it is the true star of the show. No joke, I could eat only stuffing on Thanksgiving and be a happy happy girl.

I was shocked when SO many people commented that it wasn’t true. That Cranberry Relish was, in fact, the actual star. Additionally, Cranberry Relish, the fresh and raw cousin of Cranberry Sauce, is perfect eaten with Thanksgiving Turkey.

Fair enough, guys! It’s time to add a Cranberry Relish recipe to our Thanksgiving plates.

Reader Review

Fantastic!!! My family loved it!!! I will definitely make this again. So so good, better than cranberry sauce.

What is Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Relish is essentially chopped up cranberries with orange juice and zest and some sugar. The raw cranberries combined with the other ingredients truly shine. When you start with bright, plump, fresh cranberries, you are bound to create something amazing.

overhead photo of a bowl of fresh cranberries, an orange, and a bowl of sugar

Cranberry Relish Ingredients

You literally only need three ingredients for Cranberry Relish.

  • Fresh Cranberries: Take a good look at the bag and make sure that most of the cranberries are nice and plump. Give them a good rinse before making this recipe and pick out any cranberries that are wilted.
  • An Orange: Look for an orange that is nice and firm and seems heavy for its size. Skip over any that have soft spots on them.
  • Sugar: This recipe does call for a decent amount of sugar. My feeling is that we only have this once a year, so we better go for it. You can always start with less sugar and add more. Read more about this below.

How to Make Cranberry Relish

This is a brief overview to show you how simple this cranberry relish recipe really is. For the full recipe with all of the measurements be sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Add the cranberries to a food processor. Make sure to not over pulse your cranberries. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a grinder (stand alone or one you attach to a stand mixer) or a blender.
  2. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Stir in the sugar, orange zest, and orange juice.
  3. Allow to marinate. While you can eat this right away, it is best if it sits for at least an hour.

Ninja Blender Set

I am obsessed with this set. The food processor is perfect for this recipe. I use one of the pieces almost daily.
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overhead view of cranberry orange relish that is in a white bowl and garnished with three cranberries, a little rosemary, and some orange zest

Sugar in Cranberry Relish

This recipe does have half a cup of sugar in it. I think that is the perfect amount for this cranberry relish recipe. Keep in mind that cranberries and oranges are both acidic. In cooking, sugar is often used balance acid, and that is part of it’s job here.

If you are worried about how much is added here, start with half and taste it until you reach an amount that tastes good to you. Another great option is to replace the sugar with monkfruit.

Cranberry Relish Variations

If you want to change things up there are a few things you could try. I wouldn’t recommend trying all of these! Pick one variation. I love experimenting with recipes.

  • Add apple slices to the food processor when you chop the cranberries.
  • Or pull in another flavor completely by adding pear slices. Be sure to choose a pear that is still somewhat firm.
  • Really take things down a different path by adding a few fresh jalapeño slices.
  • Add the orange zest, but not the orange juice and replace that with pomegranate juice.
  • Throw in a pinch of cinnamon at the very end.
  • Kick it all up a little by adding a shot of orange liqueur, such as Cointreau.
a white bowl full of cranberry relish recipe on a cutting board, garnished with three cranberries, orange zest, and a little rosemary

How to Eat Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Relish is delicious eaten straight just like cranberry sauce. Or pop a little on a piece of turkey and get a delicious combo of flavors. But if you want to get creative here are some ideas!

Storing Cranberry Relish

This is a great recipe to make ahead of time. It will last in your refrigerator up to one week and is best served cold.

While I personally would recommend making this the day of or the day before serving, you can freeze cranberry relish. Store in an airtight container and freeze. Use within one to two months. Let thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.


Can you freeze cranberry relish?

Yes! I think it is best when it is made fresh, but it can be frozen. Store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.

What is the difference between cranberry sauce and cranberry relish?

The primary difference is that cranberry sauce is cooked and cranberry relish is raw. Because of this the texture is quite different as well as the taste.

How long is homemade cranberry relish good for?

Cranberry relish leftovers will last in your refrigerator for up to one week.

close up picture of cranberry orange relish recipe in a white bowl on a cutting board with fresh cranberries and rosemary around it

Great Thanksgiving Recipes

If you are looking for more great holiday recipes, you can find them here: Thanksgiving Recipes. Here are some of my very favorites.

  • Roast Turkey: This is the recipe we use every single year. It has a brine, and it is worth every single step.
  • Stuffing: This is my ultimate favorite Thanksgiving recipe.
  • Pumpkin Pie: The perfect recipe with a fool proof crust.
  • Cinnamon Whiskey Sangria: Not a traditional Thanksgiving recipe but if your family insists on discussing politics, you’ll want it.

If you try this cranberry orange relish recipe or any of my other holiday recipes please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

And I’d love to hear if your family eats Cranberry Sauce or Cranberry Relish!

up close picture of a white bowl full of cranberry relish being spooned up by a golden spoon
5 from 6 votes

Cranberry Relish

Serves: 8 people
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Cranberry Relish is the easiest Thanksgiving recipe. It comes together in less than 10 minutes and can be made the night before. This Cranberry Orange Relish will add the perfect bright flavor to your holiday plate.


  • 1 orange (or 2 teaspoons orange zest and 1/4 cup orange juice)
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries (thrown in raw)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar


  • Zest the orange peel with a zester. You want to zest just until you begin to see the white under the skin and not further. You will need 2 teaspoons of zest. (Read about my variations on cranberry relish here: Cranberry Relish Variations.)
  • Cut the orange in half and juice it. You will need 1/4 cup of orange juice.
  • Add the cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, and sugar to a food processor and pulse just enough to finely dice the cranberries. Be careful not to over pulse.
  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for an hour before serving for best flavors.
Serving: 0.25cup Calories: 71kcal (4%) Carbohydrates: 18g (6%) Sodium: 1mg Potassium: 52mg (1%) Fiber: 2g (8%) Sugar: 15g (17%) Vitamin A: 1IU Vitamin C: 13mg (16%) Calcium: 1mg Iron: 1mg (6%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
up close picture of a white bowl full of cranberry relish being spooned up by a golden spoon

did you make this

Cranberry Relish

I’d love to see what you made! Tag me @lisasimplejoy and hashtag it #simplejoyrecipes!

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


    Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you & seeing what you made!

    Rate This Recipe:

  1. Judy says

    Relish should be made at least 3 days in advance for flavors to blend. It will keep in the refrigerator for months and even improve.

  2. debbie says

    can this be warmed?

    • Lisa Longley says

      There are some Cranberry Relish recipes that are served warm. I wouldn’t do that with this recipe, personally. I think it is delicious cold.

      • Jo Jo says

        This is awesome on turkey, ham or chicken sandwiches! I keep this relish in my fridge most of the time, it keeps very well.

  3. Judy says

    Please don’t warm it

  4. Jo Jo says

    5 stars
    I forgot to mention this is also good with fine chopped celery or chopped apples, nuts, ect. added, just use your imagination and change it up. Sometimes I also use water instead of orange juice to make it. Cranberries are amazing in so many ways. Yummy sandwiches with the relish instead of mayo or mustard.

  5. Brenda says

    We always had this at Thanksgiving as I was growing up. I now make it every year. It is delicious, but I’ve always added an apple and sometimes chopped walnuts.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Those sound like great additions!

  6. Jan says

    5 stars
    So very good! I also like it on OATMEAL! It’s delicious!

  7. AnneMarie says

    Try this same recipe with a can of crushed and drained pineapple juice. Yum

  8. Susan says

    This recipe says 1 orange, do you use the whole orange, peeled? Whole? Or just the zest and juice?

    • Lisa Longley says

      That was super unclear as written! I just clarified it. You need 1/4 cup of juice and 2 teaspoons of orange zest.

  9. Marlyn says

    In my family, we use the whole unpeeled orange. We cut it into chunks so it will fit into the grinder (my grandmother) or the food processor. If we add fresh jalapenos, we swap the orange for apples (peeled and cored). My dad hated turkey so he would coat his single slice of breast meat with an inch of cranberry relish. If he couldn’t have Mexican food for Thanksgiving, at least he could have jalapeno cranberry relish.

  10. Tammy says

    Oh how I love this relish it is so good think it goes well with pork chicken or turkey with your meal, on a sandwich or by its self. I added a half cup of toasted pecans and add a toasty taste to it but its wonderful eigther way. I will be making it as soon as cranberries are in season.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m glad you liked it! I never thought of it with pork, but that would be delicious!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners