Thanksgiving is getting super fresh, courtesy of this Cranberry Orange Relish. Lighter and brighter than standard cranberry sauce, this easy, old-fashioned recipe is made with a few simple ingredients and comes together in seconds in your food processor.
I’m a longtime believer in homemade cranberry sauce.
It is THE EASIEST Thanksgiving side dish to make from scratch, so please do everyone a favor and skip the can.
I thought I was all set with my favorite easy Cranberry Orange Sauce.
Then, my friend Keri introduced me to her family’s fresh cranberry relish, and now I will forever make not just one but TWO cranberry sauce recipes for Thanksgiving.
- An invigorating alternative to cranberry sauce, this cranberry orange relish positively pops with flavor.
- It provides a necessary fresh counterpoint to the richer sides on the table (hello, Cornbread Stuffing and Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes).
- AND, as these Cranberry Turkey Meatballs can attest, cranberry is made to be paired with Thanksgiving turkey.
Today’s cranberry orange relish recipe is my take on Keri’s. It’s made with fresh cranberries, a whole orange, apples, and walnuts (or pecans if you prefer).
Added bonus: this is a cranberry relish without sugar. Naturally sweetened with honey, this is one Thanksgiving side dish about which you can feel good taking heaping seconds helpings.
The Difference Between Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Relish
Not sure how this cranberry relish differs from traditional cranberry sauce?
- While cooked cranberry relish recipes exist, cranberry orange relish is traditionally raw.
- Since no cooking is required, cranberry relish typically has more texture and crunch than cranberry sauce.
- Cranberry relish is typically more tart than cranberry sauce, which usually has a sweeter flavor.
- For cranberry sauce, the berries are left whole, then cooked down. In cranberry relish, the cranberries are chopped. A food processor makes the task quick and easy.
How to Make Cranberry Orange Relish
No need to look for where to buy cranberry orange relish.
I can’t overstate how quick and easy this recipe is to make from scratch.
If you are hosting, you’ll love the fast prep.
If you’ve been assigned a side and aren’t super confident in the kitchen, go ahead and volunteer for the cranberry relish now.
- Walnuts. Packed with healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, and key nutrients such as magnesium and vitamin B6, I love the toasty flavor and crunch the walnuts give this easy cranberry relish recipe.
- Fresh Cranberries. Juicy, flavorful, and perfectly suited for a holiday meal. (Any extras can be used to make Cranberry Orange Muffins.)
- Navel Orange. It adds the most delicious sweetness and citrusy flavor. You don’t even need to fuss with peeling. Plop the whole orange into the food processor, including the rind.
- Apple. My addition to Keri’s recipe. A sweet and crisp variety like Honeycrisp, Fuji, or gala works best here.
- Honey. Most old-fashioned cranberry sauce recipes use sugar, but I love that honey is more natural, and it tastes wonderful paired with orange.
- Orange Liqueur. An optional ingredient…but it’s the holidays, so we should go for it.
- Toast the walnuts, then transfer to a plate to cool.
- Blend the fruit in a food processor until you have a finely chopped mixture. (Yes, you can grind cranberries in a food processor!)
- Add the walnuts, pulsing until roughly chopped.
- Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, and stir in the honey and liqueur. Chill for at least 2 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature, and ENJOY!
Uses for Cranberry Orange Relish
There is so much you can do with cranberry relish! Here are a few suggestions.
- Spoon some over the top of a block of softened cream cheese, and serve it with crackers as an appetizer.
- Serve it over the top of vanilla yogurt or Blender Whole Wheat Waffles with a light pour of maple syrup for breakfast. YUM!
- Use it to make a Leftover Cranberry Sauce Parfait.
- Pile it onto your leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwich (try mixing it with mayo or Greek yogurt first to create a spread). For more leftover ideas, see Leftover Turkey Recipes.
- Spread the relish over a slice of Greek Yogurt Cheesecake.
- Enjoy a simple dessert of vanilla ice cream with a scoop of cranberry orange relish and a drizzle of honey.
- To Store. Place leftover cranberry orange relish in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Freeze. Store cranberry orange relish in an airtight container or ziptop bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Note that the texture will be more mushy once thawed.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 week in advance, toast walnuts, and store them in an airtight storage container at room temperature. Up to 2 days in advance, blend the fruit and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Up to 1 day in advance, stir the completed dish together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
What to Serve with Cranberry Orange Relish
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
Crockpot Wild Rice Stuffing
Healthy Green Bean Casserole
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Food Processor. I’ve had a version of this model for years, and I adore it.
- All-Purpose Baking Sheet. One of my most-used kitchen items.
This year, surprise and delight your family with this cranberry orange relish recipe.
I bet you’ll become a convert too!
Frequently Asked Questions
No. I do not recommend using canned cranberries for this recipe. The taste and raw texture of fresh cranberries are really what make this recipe pop.
I have not made this recipe without a food processor before, so it would be an experiment. Chopping by hand would be very time-consuming, so I wouldn’t recommend that route. Some blenders have a food processor feature, so depending on the model of your blender, you might be able to pulse the cranberry relish that way—just be careful not to puree it smooth.
Yes! Cranberries are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They’re also packed with antioxidants and anthocyanins believed to help fight cancer and inflammation. So go ahead, take a second scoop and let’s toast to good health!
Cranberry Orange Relish
- 1/2 cup shelled walnuts or pecans
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1 medium navel orange skin included, scrubbed, and cut into chunks
- 1 medium medium sweet crisp apple such as Honeycrisp, Fuji, or gala, washed with peel on, cut into chunks
- 1/3 cup honey choose a mild honey such as clover
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier (optional, but delicious)
- First, toast the walnuts. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the walnuts into an even layer on an ungreased baking sheet with a rim. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Watch carefully towards the end of the baking time to make sure the nuts do not burn. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely (place in the refrigerator if you’d like to speed up this process).
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the cranberries, orange, and apple. Blend until you have a uniform, very finely chopped mixture with a crunchy texture. I like to alternate between long and short pulses to ensure that the mixture processes evenly.
- Add the walnuts and pulse until roughly chopped.
- Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and stir in the honey and orange liqueur. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
- Adapted from my friend Keri’s recipe.
- TO SERVE: You can serve this relish chilled or at room temperature.
- TO STORE: Place leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO FREEZE: Store cranberry orange relish in an airtight, freezer-container or ziptop bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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My family has had cranberry relish forever, or at least since the days when my mom would make it with the big, clamp-on, hand-crank “food processor”. I love it. I have tried many variations, including with pineapple but keep coming back to the original. Leftovers pair wonderfully with cream cheese. I like to just spread some cream cheese on a tortilla, cover with cranberry relish, and roll it up. I grab that and hit the door for work. It’s a great breakfast.