Raw Cranberry Relish

This raw cranberry relish is easy-peasy and an incredible, slightly spicy, upgrade from that jiggly canned stuff. We know–you love it. But just give this a try, for the sake of that turkey.

A large white bowl and a small metal bowl filled with raw cranberry relish on a metal serving tray with a few cranberries scattered around.

With just the simple addition of a little jalapeño pepper and a splash of Grand Marnier, this familiar Thanksgiving cranberry relish recipe becomes a sassy salsa. Trust me, your turkey will be tapping its drumsticks with delight.–Patrick O’Connell

LC So Much For Semantics Note

We’re not certain whether, technically speaking this recipe is actually a relish or a salsa or a sauce. What matters most to us isn’t so much the semantics of the recipe’s name, but the ridiculous ease with which the recipe comes together. Seriously. We’re talking maybe five minutes effort for a stunning side certain to elicit a chorus of oohs and aahs at your table. Takes a little pressure off the turkey, doesn’t it? So much for semantics.

☞ Contents

Raw Cranberry Relish

A large white bowl and a small metal bowl filled with raw cranberry relish on a metal serving tray with a few cranberries scattered around.
This raw cranberry relish is not only easy but it's also incredibly delish. A touch of orange, jalapeño, and Grand Marnier upgrades that much maligned jiggly can of your childhood.

Prep 5 minutes
Total 5 minutes
8 to 12 servings
90 kcal
5 from 1 vote
Print RecipeBuy the Patrick O'Connell's Refined American Cuisine cookbook

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  • 16 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 small thin-skinned navel orange unpeeled, washed, halved, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 small jalapeño chile pepper seeded and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar depending on your sweet tooth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or other orange-flavored liqueur)


  • If using fresh cranberries, spread them on a large plate or rimmed baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour. If using frozen cranberries, keep them in the freezer until you need them.
  • In a food processor fitted with a metal blade or a blender, pulse the frozen cranberries, the orange (yes, the peel as well as the segments), and the jalapeño, if using, until evenly and finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add sugar to taste and Grand Marnier, and stir to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate the relish for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to meld. (You can refrigerate the relish for up to 5 days.) Taste and adjust the amount of sugar and Grand Marnier accordingly. Serve cold.
Print RecipeBuy the Patrick O'Connell's Refined American Cuisine cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 90kcal (5%)Carbohydrates: 22g (7%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 1g (2%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 87mg (2%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 17g (19%)Vitamin A: 104IU (2%)Vitamin C: 22mg (27%)Calcium: 13mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Wow. I grew up on the jiggly canned jellied cranberry sauce—you know, the kind that wobbled when you dumped it out onto a plate from the aftershock and proudly wore its ridges from the can—and so had eschewed even homemade cranberry sauce for years. This is a revelation, though. Easy. Elegant. Conversation-starting. And as tart and sprightly as the Thanskgiving table demands. I left out the jalapeño, used Grand Marnier, and wouldn’t change a thing.

Originally published November 14, 2011


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. For a raw vegan cranberry relish/sauce, one could sub dates for the sugar, processing the pitted dates with the cranberries. Experiment, starting with a few dates and then adding more to taste.

  2. 5 stars
    THANK YOU for this recipe! Many years ago I knew a Finnish family. They introduced me to their almost ubiquitous sauce – a RAW cranberry sauce! It was a substitute for a raw lingonberry sauce back in their homeland. The raw cranberry sauce was only raw cranberries pulverized in a blender or processor with an equal volume of granulated sugar. Then it sat in the fridge for several hours before serving. Your recipe seems more sophisticated, not to mention with exact measurements. I am planning to serve this on Thursday 🙂

    1. You’re so very welcome, Rochelle! Love when a recipe dovetails on an old recipe that was lost seemingly forever except for in our memories. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

  3. Back in the 50s my Mom made the Ocean Spray recipe and started with half the sugar and then adjust up. She used Cointreau and the thickest pith navel orange she could find. However, she always made the relish with a food grinder [I got to crank it] on the Monday before Thanksgiving and would tape the container shut. The relish had a habit of disappearing before Turkey Day. She experimented by adding vanilla or almond extract or slivered almonds and always returned to the basic recipe with the Cointreau.

    1. I always use the food grinder on my big stand mixer for this. It makes just the right consistency, chopped not mushy. My late mother-in-law who believed alcohol was sinful loved this dish. We never told her about the orange liquor in it; just smiled when she asked for seconds.

    2. Ah, memories, CR. I used to make the Ocean Spray version ages ago. (Momma Leite opted for the can that farted out a ribbed cylinder of red stuff.) This year, though, I’m thinking of adding roasted pistachios on top of this recipe. A little crunch, and they go well with cranberries.

  4. Hi David ~ This sounds like a great recipe for cranberry relish with a punch! However, I would not call this a “Raw” Cranberry Relish but an Uncooked Cranberry Relish due to the sugar and Grand Marnier. That is, generally when a recipe is called raw it is referring to a “raw vegan” dish one that you would find in a raw vegan diet. Just wanted to clarify 🙂

    1. Irene, thanks for the clarification. And agreed, those who follow a raw vegan diet wouldn’t consider this raw. But for those folks like me and most of our readers, who consider raw to mean anything heat isn’t applied to, this would be raw. So in the same what you see signs in airports that often have two languages, we’ll consider this to have two names. How that for diplomacy?!

  5. I love cranberry relish! I’ve been making Ina Garten’s Cranberry Compote the past couple of years (it’s really good) and realized that I’ve been missing the tang and crunch of the relish that I’d made in prior years. It’s so good on a turkey sandwich! The jalapeno idea is an exciting addition. I must admit, though, I’m a nut…person, and have added them in the past. The only idea I’ve toyed with is removing and using the zest from the orange as well as the orange segments and discarding the pith. I’ve had some batches where that white pith is overwhelmingly bitter in the relish. What do you advise to counter the bitterness?

    1. I suggest using a small navel orange, Susan, the kind that’s incredibly thin-skinned. In my experience, it tends to be the whopping ginormous oranges that often have more pith—and more bitter pith—than smaller ones. Of course, that’s not always the case, but I find it’s often true. I’ve also made this recipe using a couple clementines in place of an orange and found it to have a sweeter taste than usual, so perhaps that would offset the bitterness you fear. You could, of course, do as you suggested, it just takes a few more minutes. Curious to hear what approach you try…

      1. I like your suggestion of using a clementine. They have no seeds so I wouldn’t have to fish them out like I would using, say, a Valencia orange. Thanks, Renee.

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