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.
Why You’ll Love This Cranberry Relish With Orange Recipe
- So Worth the (Little) Effort. I’m a longtime believer in homemade cranberry sauce. Whether you make this cranberry orange relish or my Cranberry Orange Sauce, it is THE EASIEST Thanksgiving side dish to make from scratch, so please do everyone a favor and skip the can.
- Fresh, Flavorful, and Light. 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 The Best Mashed Potatoes).
- The Perfect Pairing With Turkey. If you like your Breaded Pork Chops with Instant Pot Applesauce, you’re already well-aware that savory meat and fruit are a delightful duo. As these Cranberry Turkey Meatballs can attest, cranberry is made to be paired with Thanksgiving Turkey.
- No Sugar. Added bonus: this is a cranberry relish without sugar. Naturally sweetened with honey, this is one Thanksgiving side dish you can feel good about taking heaping second 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
- Walnuts. I love the toasty flavor and crunch the walnuts give this easy cranberry relish recipe. You can also use pecans or omit if you need it to be nut free.
- 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. 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. Cranberry relish with Grand Marnier is a delight!
- Toast the Walnuts. Transfer to a plate to cool.
- Process. 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. Pulse until roughly chopped.
- Finish. 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!
Ways to Use 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. You can stir the completed dish together and refrigerate until ready to serve up to 1 day in advance.
What to Serve with Cranberry Orange Relish
- Turkey. The classic pairing! Try it with Air Fryer Turkey Breast or Spatchcock Turkey.
- Chicken. Why limit yourself to turkey, though? Air Fryer Whole Chicken and Rosemary Chicken Thighs are also excellent with a side of fresh cranberry relish.
- Pork. Swap the applesauce for cranberry relish the next time you make Air Fryer Pork Chops or Baked Pork Tenderloin.
- Other Holiday Favorites. Serve this relish alongside holiday classics like Crockpot Green Bean Casserole, Turkey Gravy, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Crockpot Stuffing.
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.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Keep a Close Eye on the Walnuts. When you’re toasting them in the oven, they can go from browned and toasty to burnt in a flash—and there’s no salvaging burnt walnuts! If your oven runs hot, you may need to check at 6 minutes.
- Don’t Puree It. The beauty of this fresh cranberry orange apple relish is the texture, which is such a contrast to jammy cranberry sauce. Pulse the mixture in short and long bursts, rather than turning on the food processor and walking away.
- Don’t Forget the Chilling! This allows all those beautiful flavors to meld together. When you’re making this cranberry orange relish recipe, plan to make it at least two hours before your dinner—or just make it a day ahead of time!
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°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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