Cranberry and Orange Relish

Cranberry and Orange Relish

A sauce favored by Americans for their Thanksgiving turkey, we Australians also enjoy this with Christmas turkey and ham.–Margaret Fulton

LC Not Just For Turkey Note

We interrupt the planning of many a lovely Thanksgiving menu for an important 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. It can even embellish 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. Here, things we’ve been trying or thinking of trying—uh, 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 coins 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 orange
toss 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).

Cranberry and Orange Relish

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 15 M
  • Makes 2 cups
5/5 - 2 reviews
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  • 10 to 12 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 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


  • 1. Gently simmer all of the ingredients in a large saucepan over moderate heat for 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens somewhat. (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.)
  • 2. Let cool before serving. Ideally, cover and refrigerate the relish for up to several days, which not only affords you more time on Thanksgiving morning, but allows the flavors to meld quite nicely.

Recipe Testers Reviews

This 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 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 starting temperature of the berries. Ten-minutes cooking time seemed about right. It’s definitely a keeper for many holidays to come.

My dad makes two kinds of relish at thanksgiving—one is a 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.

This is a very simple and delicious relish. It’s much better the day or two after. Although it does work as written, moderate heat may mean different things to different cooks. 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.

A standard 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.


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  1. 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.

  2. Very excited to try this recipe for Xmas this year. Has anyone added in the fresh ginger? How did it turn out?

    1. Hey, Kristen, how lovely to see you here. I personally have not tried it with ginger yet, but I’ve queried our recipe testers to inquire if anyone gave that variation a twirl at Thanksgiving, and will let you know what I hear. In the meantime, all my love to you, Dave, Hunter, and Baby Ruhlig….

      1. Thank YOU Renee. I look forward to hearing back from you as a hint of ginger sounds like it could be just delicious, but has the potential to also take away from the tart sweet. Really loving this website! Lots of love right back at you, E, and Inca.

        1. Kristen,

          I did try a batch with ginger, ginger beer, and the candied ginger. I used about a scant tbsp of fresh grated ginger, a splash of ginger beer, (start with less and add more as you go along), and about a 1/2 tbsp of chopped candied ginger. It was divine—and it tasted even better the next day. I would suggest starting with small amounts depending on your preference for ginger and adding more, but the flavors do deepen overnight so please keep that in mind. Please post how you made out. Sita

            1. So I doubled the recipe and added a little over 1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger. I made it in advance so it sat in my fridge for two days before eating. It turned out delicious and was well received by the entire family for Xmas dinner. Will definitely be making it again and may even add a tad more ginger. Delicious, thank you!

                1. i couldn’t agree more with Renee. i wondered if my suggestions helped, and phew i am relieved and thrilled for you. happy holidays, Sita

                    1. So I’ve made this several more times since my initial post about a year ago, it’s now a family favorite, and to make it even more tangy and delicious in addition to the tablespoon of freshly grated ginger I also doubled the amount of orange zest. Perfection!

  3. This so reminds me of my brother’s recipe for tart and sweet cranberry orange relish though a bit more simple. But now I have to go make some…

  4. Has anyone tried this with Splenda or some other sugar substitute? We have both type 1 and type 2 in our family, so I’m always looking for ways to cut the sugar.


    1. Susan, to my knowledge, all of our testers used straight-up sugar, though we’ll check in with them to be sure. Has anyone else used a sugar substitute in a similar cranberry sauce? And, if so, how’d it go?

    2. I made this with Splenda this weekend, and it tastes all right, but I think I will try half and half next time. A little bit of an aftertaste. Everyone seemed to like it though.

      1. Susie B., I think especially with such a tart berry as cranberry you really need true sugar, because I can see how that metallic Splenda smack and the tart berry could collide. Also, try letting the relish rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours, as that tends to allow the flavors to mellow and meld. Finally, let us know how it goes….

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