Apple-Cranberry Relish Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 15 min. + chilling
This zesty, easy-to-make cranberry relish recipe belongs on your Thanksgiving table.

Updated: Oct. 12, 2023

While we love hearty, traditional Thanksgiving dishes—juicy turkey, buttery mashed potatoes and fluffy rolls—it’s an open secret that they’re a bit, well, heavy.

Luckily, this cranberry relish recipe can be your secret weapon Thanksgiving side dish for some lighter fare. Its bright, tart flavor balances the rich starchiness of many Turkey Day treats, perking up your palate with every bite. It’s so good, you’ll want to make this cranberry relish all year long.

Cranberry Relish vs. Cranberry Sauce

While cranberry sauce is a popular side, including the beloved straight-from-the-can jelly, cranberry relish is a fresher alternative. Unlike sauce, which is cooked and generously sweetened, relish is made from chopped fresh ingredients, making it a zesty option that’s quick and easy to make.

Cranberry Relish Recipe Ingredients

Cranberry Relish ingredients laid out in bowls on a dark wood backgroundTMB Studio

  • Cranberries: You can use fresh or frozen here. Stay away from dried cranberries, though.
  • Orange: We use oranges two ways—segments and zest—to give this cranberry relish recipe a sweet tanginess.
  • Apples: Tart, firm apples like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith work best in this relish recipe.
  • Celery: This sleeper ingredient is here for texture, adding a refreshing crunch.
  • Sugar: Sure, oranges and apples lend some sweetness, but to keep the cranberry relish from being way too puckery, we add granulated sugar, too.

Directions

Step 1: Prep the oranges

Cranberry Relish oranges being preppedTMB Studio

Grate the oranges using a box grater or zester. Then, remove and discard the white pith. Separate the oranges into sections. Set aside the grated orange peel for later.

Step 2: Prepare to chop

Cranberry Relish ingredient in the blenderTMB Studio

Load half of the orange sections into a food processor or blender along with half of the other prepared produce: cranberries, apples and celery. If you’re using frozen cranberries, you may blend them up frozen or defrosted. Pulse until the fruit is chopped, then transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t let the motor run too long, or you might end up with fruit puree instead of a coarse, chunky mix. You want the cranberry relish to retain some larger pieces for crunch.

Step 3: Chop the second half

second half of Cranberry Relish ingredients being blendedTMB Studio

Repeat Step 2 with the remaining orange slices, apples, cranberries and celery. Add the mixture to the bowl.

Step 4: Add sugar and orange peel

Cranberry Relish mixture in a glass bowl with orange zest and sugarTMB Studio

Toss the sugar and reserved grated orange peel into the fruit mixture.

Step 5: Let it chill

Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. This allows the sugar to macerate the fruit, softening it and releasing full flavor.

Cranberry Relish Variations

Our cranberry relish recipe welcomes improvisation! Because it’s not cooked, there’s (almost) no messing it up. Some easy add-ins include:

  • Chopped dried fruits: raisins, sultanas, apricots
  • Nuts: pecans or walnuts
  • Other fruits: Meyer lemon, tangerines, pineapple
  • Spices: cinnamon, a dash of cardamom, nutmeg, Chinese five spice

How to Serve Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Relish on a plate with turkey and stuffingTMB Studio

Just about anything you’d eat at Thanksgiving will be delicious with cranberry relish. It’s also wonderful with most fall comfort foods, from chicken and dumplings to grilled cheese to macaroni. Its bright flavor is a perfect match with richer foods like potatoes, cheese, sweet potatoes and poultry soups and stews.

How to Store Cranberry Relish

Keep the relish tightly covered in the fridge for up to two weeks, or freeze it for up to three months. It will keep best if it stays cool and clean. Consider serving a small dish of relish at a time, reserving the larger portion in the fridge.

How to Make Cranberry Relish Ahead

Cranberry relish mellows and sweetens as it sits, making it ideal to make ahead. We suggest preparing it up to a week in advance and storing it in the fridge. If you’re on a mission to prep as much food as possible before the holiday, here are more make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes.

Apple-Cranberry Relish

Prep Time 15 min
Yield 16 servings (8 cups)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium navel oranges
  • 2 bags (12 ounces each) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into chunks
  • 3 cups sugar

Directions

  1. Grate peel of oranges and set aside. Peel and discard white membrane. Separate orange into sections and place half in a food processor or blender. Add half of the cranberries, apples and celery. Process until coarsely chopped.
  2. Transfer to a bowl; repeat with remaining oranges, cranberries, apples and celery. Stir in sugar and reserved orange peel. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Nutrition Facts

1/2 cup: 183 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 5mg sodium, 47g carbohydrate (43g sugars, 2g fiber), 0 protein.

This fresh, ruby-colored cranberry apple relish is sweet and tangy, and the celery gives it a terrific crunch. At our house, it's a holiday menu mainstay since it's so pleasant with poultry and pork. —Edith McFarland, Willits, California
Recipe Creator