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.

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.
Patrick O’Connell

Prep 5 mins
Total 5 mins
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%)

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


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  1. This is close to the original Ocean Spray recipe. They call for a naval orange cut in 1/8s and thrown into a food processor with suger (granulated or brown) cranberries, and orange juice. I cut the juice in half and use the Grand Marnier (shoot, thought that was my idea). Now nuts and jalapeño. Hmmmm. Think I’ll some more Grand Marnier and cogitate a bit.

  2. This so looks like the recipe I grew up with, except for two items: who know from jalapeño peppers? And we added coarsely chopped walnuts. I wonder how it would be with both, jalapeños and walnuts. Maybe one, but not the other? Let’s not gild the lily!

    1. Mom made a version of this often in the sixties. No chiles and no booze. When Thanksgiving was over we ate the rest of the relish on vanilla ice cream. In my memory, it was really good. Have to try it again.

      Oh, and I prefer my chocolate chip nut cookies without the chocolate chips!

    2. Phil, I think it’s a matter of taste, but I think both would work together. But, personally, I’m not a nut guy–especially in cookies. I was just teaching aboard a Holland America ship, and one of my students asked if walnuts could be added to my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I nearly fainted.

      1. I am totally with you here, David. Still laughing at that last line. My mother took every, and I do mean every, opportunity to add nuts to just about everything. And burnt nuts at that! I’ll never forget the burnt walnut (yes, walnut!) pie we had for Thanksgiving one year. I’m a Southerner, so walnut pie instead of pecan is just about as popular as beans in Texas chili… this looks good but like you, I think I’ll skip the nuts. 🙂

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