We interrupt the planning of your lovely Thanksgiving menu for a public service announcement: This sweetly tart cranberry and orange relish is lovely alongside more than just turkey. It’s also a sassy complement to many a roast, whether chicken, pork, or duck, including weeknight chops and cutlets. Not only is the condiment versatile in its application, but in its very incarnation. We’ve been dabbling with adding various ingredients, depending on our mood and what’s in our pantry, and we’ve yet to have it go awry. You’ll find a list of them beneath the recipe.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Cranberry and orange relish in a white bowl on a baking sheet

Cranberry and Orange Relish

5 / 5 votes
This cranberry and orange relish is made simply with cranberries, sugar, oranges, and water, and comes together in just 5 minutes of your time. Because we know you have other stuff to think about on Thanksgiving.
David Leite
Servings8 servings | 2 cups
Calories120 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes


  • 10 to 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries, (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup superfine sugar, (or just blitz some granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery)
  • Grated zest of 1 small orange, preferably organic
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, (from 1 to 2 oranges)
  • 1/3 cup cold water


  • Toss all of the ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the mixture thickens somewhat, about 10 minutes. (For a runny, saucy sauce, let it simmer just a few minutes less. For a more jellied version, simply let it simmer a few minutes longer.)
  • Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving and, ideally, cover and refrigerate it for up to several days. This not only affords you more time and stovetop space on Thanksgiving morning, but gives the flavors time to meld quite nicely.


What You Need To Know About Varying Up This Cranberry and Orange Relish

Listed here are things we’ve been stirring into this cranberry relish to magnificent effect. Just not all of them at once:
Toss in a cinnamon stick
Pour in a scant shot of Grand Marnier at the last second
Add a few smashed slices of ginger
Dispense with the orange and swap in ginger beer and crystallized ginger
Substitute a splash of red wine, port, or bourbon for the OJ
Stir chopped pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts just before dinner
Swap apple cider for the OJ
Mix finely chopped pineapple in along with everything else
Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds
Add a star anise (and don’t forget to remove the choking hazard prior to serving…or make certain it finds its way onto your mother-in-law’s plate).
Margaret Fulton Christmas

Adapted From

Margaret Fulton Christmas

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Serving: 0.25 cupCalories: 120 kcalCarbohydrates: 31 gProtein: 0.3 gFat: 0.2 gSaturated Fat: 0.01 gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01 gSodium: 2 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 28 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2010 Margaret Fulton. Photo © 2010 ckimballphoto. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This cranberry and orange relish recipe uses the same ingredients my mother used to make her cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving, so I’ve fond memories of this. It couldn’t be simpler to make and results in a very nice, fresh change from canned cranberry sauces.

While the recipe calls for frozen cranberries, fresh ones can be used when in season and the amounts of ingredients can be adjusted to your taste. I liked it best after it had been in the fridge overnight and the flavors had really blended.

Although this is a basic cranberry relish, it’s simple to prepare with so few ingredients. And the orange juice and zest add a nice contrast of flavor. Ten minutes is the perfect amount of time to cook it, as the majority of the berries pop but still have plenty of texture. Perfectly sweet and tart!

I loved making a Thanksgiving recipe—a recipe for our quintessentially American holiday—from an Australian author. She notes they enjoy it with their Christmas meal as well, and we will too! It’s quick, easy, and can be made ahead, all pluses that make for an easier day-of. If it wasn’t delicious, then the speed and convenience would count for nothing. But it was delicious!

I’d double the recipe next time so it doesn’t get devoured on its first serving seeing as 2 cups of cranberry relish don’t go a very long way. Also, next time I’ll start with fresh cranberries and count on the cooking time being a little bit shorter to make up for the temperature of the berries.

It’s definitely a keeper for many holidays to come.

This is a very simple and delicious cranberry relish. It’s much better the day or two after being made.

I cooked my relish over medium heat until it started to bubble and then turned it down to medium-low to simmer and thicken. It took a little bit longer than 10 minutes but I finished it without being burned by a bursting cranberry.

My dad makes two kinds of relish at thanksgiving—one is a cranberry and orange relish just like this. If you only heat it for 10 minutes, the cranberries don’t usually pop, though they do soften. We’d put the relish in the food processor to give it a great texture compared to a smooth cranberry sauce. The orange is a great contrast to the tart cranberries.

A standard cranberry relish that comes together quickly. It was very flavorful and yes, the cranberries do pop. I usually like to add some cloves and orange zest to mine; I didn’t do so here. This is a great basic recipe leaving you a lot of room to play around with spice mixtures. Also great to serve with a nice melted Brie and melba rounds.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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    1. Thanks, Brin! We’re delighted that you enjoyed this so much and appreciate you taking the time to let us know. Great tip on the cinnamon stick; we’ll definitely have to try that next time.

  1. 5 stars
    This was a big hit at our Thanksgiving table. Everyone loved it, including me. It’s a perfect combination of tart and sweet. I especially loved the addition of cinnamon and ginger, which, between us, David forgot to take out.

    1. Hah. So glad to hear that you love this as much as I do, The One. Seriously. So. Glad. Not to mention relieved…