Cranberry Relish
Dairy Free, Egg Free, Fall, Gluten Free, Holiday, Make ahead, Nut Free, PREP, Recipes, Seasonal, Side Dishes, Vegetarian, Vegetarian / / 17 COMMENTS

With just five simple ingredients this Cranberry Relish will add a pop of color and a side dish full of nutrients that will be a great addition to the table at any holiday gathering.

a small bowl of cranberry relish next to lemon, garnish, and single cranberries


With Thanksgiving just a few days away, everyone is finalizing their Thanksgiving Day menu. Thanksgiving dinner is all about timing. What needs to be in/out the oven or stovetop. I am always a fan of the menu items that can be made ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about factoring that in the day of the festivities.


This recipe is inspired by one of my friend’s aunt’s recipe. (Hi Steph!) I was scrambling last week to get a menu together for my Thanksgiving cooking class at work. I’ve been teaching multiple Thanksgiving Day-themed cooking classes for work the past 3 years now. I get a lot of the same people attending the classes, so I didn’t want to repeat any previous recipes used in class.


I tend to catch up with family and friends on my way to and from work in the car. Whoever invented Bluetooth, thank you! I was chatting with Steph on my way home from work and I mentioned how I didn’t know what I was making yet for my class the next day. She was told me about her Aunt’s cranberry relish recipe that her family goes crazy for every year. What I really loved about it was it was only a few simple ingredients and everything goes right into a food processor. Plus, it is a recipe that can be made ahead of time. I did tweak the original recipe to make it healthier.

Cranberries: What’s So Great About Them?

I’m so glad you asked! Cranberries are actually full of antioxidants known as PACs, which may help reduce inflammation related to chronic diseases and aging.

A cup of fresh cranberries is a great source of fiber and Vitamin C, but the downside is that they only come into season during the fall.

The good news is that you can buy up several bags of fresh cranberries and freeze them to have year-round!


Also, research indicates that consumption of flavonoids in foods and beverages may decrease the risk of atherosclerosis.

In vitro and in vivo experiments with flavonoids demonstrate that flavonoids are dietary antioxidants and inhibit LDL oxidation, inhibit platelet aggregation and adhesion, inhibit enzymes involved in lipid and lipoprotein metabolism that affect the immune response to oxidized LDL and their uptake by endothelial macrophages, may induce endothelium-dependent vassorelaxation, and may increase reverse cholesterol transport and decrease total and LDL cholesterol.

Cranberries contain both hydroxycinnamic acids and flavonoids. The cranberry flavonoids belong to three groups: anthocyanins, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins, which make cranberries a great addition as part of a heart-healthy diet. Source: The Cranberry Insitute.

infographic describing the health benefits and nutrition of cranberries

What You Need For Cranberry Relish

  • fresh cranberries
  • lemon
  • pineapple rings – I am using canned with the juice drained, you can use fresh if you would like.
  • sugar
  • honey

How To Make Cranberry Relish

Add the cranberries to the food processor and pulse until they begin breaking down. Depending on the size of your food processor you may have to do this in batches.

Slice the lemon into wedges and remove the seeds. Add the wedges, with the peel on, to the processor and pulse just until it breaks down.

Then add the sugar, honey, and pineapple rings. Continue pulsing until the relish reaches your desired consistency.

Can You Make Cranberry Relish with Nuts?

Yes! Because I recommend chilling cranberry relish overnight so all of the flavors come together, fold them in just before serving. Pecans and walnuts pair well with cranberry dishes, but you can add any variety of nuts.

I like smaller pieces, so if you have whole pecan or walnuts chop you can chop by hand or throw them in a food processor for a few pulses.

close up of cranberry relish made with real cranberries next to lemon half

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

Relish is made with raw ingredients that are blended together then chilled. Traditionally cranberry sauce is actually cooked (unless you are eating it from the can) and is much sweeter.

Can You Use Frozen Cranberries?

You can use frozen, just know the flavor is much more muted, but that’s usually the case when you swap frozen fruits and veggies for fresh.

Be sure you allow for some additional time so they can thaw completely. Then drain the cranberries to remove the excess liquid.

Cranberry Relish Serving Suggestions

In case you were wondering, here are some of the popular ways cranberry relish is served.

  • As a holiday side dish
  • Over Brie or cream cheese
  • With crackers – you could use a salty variety or graham crackers for a sweeter version
  • Topping – use the leftover to top off your pancakes, waffles, or yogurt bowls

How Long is Cranberry Relish Good For?

You can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. This also means you can make it ahead of time if you are prepping for holiday meals to ease the stress! 

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cranberry relish in a white bowl

Cranberry Relish

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: side dish

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 (20 oz) can pineapple rings, juice drained
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey

Instructions

  1. Place cranberries in a large food processor and pulse to begin to break down the cranberries.
  2. Cut lemon into small wedges and remove any seeds. Add the whole lemon to the food processor with the cranberries (do NOT remove the peel). Pulse to begin to break down the lemons with the cranberries.
  3. Add pineapple, sugar, and honey. Pulse to reach desired consistency.
  4. Let chill overnight to allow the flavors to come together.

Notes

*If using frozen cranberries, let thaw completely and drain to remove any excess liquid before preparing this recipe.

Keywords: cranberry relish, cranberry, side dish, thanksgiving, holiday

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Chef Julie Harrington, RD - Culinary Nutrition Consultant of julieharringtonrd.com
two image collage of cranberry relish with text overlay

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