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Fresh Cranberry Relish

This is the best, easy Fresh Cranberry relish; the brightly colored, super simple, 4-ingredient, sweet-tart, tummy soothing classic holiday side dish!

This dish is probably my favorite part of the holiday meal, no foolin’! As long as I can remember, my mom made this side dish for our holiday gatherings.

bowl of cranberry relish | via @thefreshcooky

I’m pretty sure I didn’t like it as a kid, but over the years as my tastes have developed, I’ve grown to love this dish. Plus, it adds rich, vibrant color to an oftentimes bland and colorless looking plate of holiday foods.

Cranberries for Relish

Cranberries are a Superfood!

Cranberries are a healthful food, due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content. They are often referred to as a “super food.” Half a cup of cranberries contains only 25 calories.The nutrients in cranberries have been linked to a lower risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure.

Just like you would use a sorbet to cleanse your pallet, fresh cranberry relish does the same; it settles the stomach and aides in digestion.

But most of all it’s bright pops of deliciousness! And make a little extra, because it’s the bomb on your holiday turkey leftover sandwich!

Leftover Turkey and cranberry relish Sandwich

It’s super simple, only 4-5 ingredients. I made a small batch but this easily doubles and triples!

festive bowl of cranberry relish, fresh |

Ingredients for Cranberry Relish

  • Fresh Cranberries
  • Pomegranate arils (optional)
  • Naval Orange (or Cutie, Clementine)
  • All natural unbleached sugar
  • Walnuts (optional)
ingredients for fresh cranberry relish |

This can be done in a food processor or if you don’t have one, you may use a blender, but do it in small batches, if not you will end up with super chunky, yet mushy relish.

I’ve made this in many blenders when doing this relish at rental properties, since we rarely spend Thanksgiving at our home! It’s highly doable!

Place cranberries and pomegranate arils in the food processor and pulse until rough chopped.

If a finer chop of the pomegranate is desired, wait and process those with the last batch of cranberries and chop fine, or simply pop whole pomegranate arils into the final relish.

Scrape the sides, after you’ve achieved larger chunks and pulse again until finely chopped as pictured below.

Close up shot of food processor and chopped cranberries

Remove chopped cranberries to a glass storage bowl, preferably one with a lid.

Zest orange and set aside, peel and section your orange and if desired, one cute (mandarin). I used the Cutie because my orange, while beautiful on the outside was rather pale on the inside.

More Holiday Sides

Place oranges in the hopper of food processor (not zest) and pulse until no large chunks of orange remain. It’ll be pulpy and juicy. If using blender do a few sections at a time, remove and pulse until all are chopped.

Oranges in food processor

Toss zest into cranberries…

Adding zest to cranberry mixture

Then pour in pulpy orange juice and stir to combine.

orange blended and added to ground cranberries  via @thefreshcooky

Stir well and then pour in all natural cane sugar, don’t pour it all in at once, sometimes your oranges are super sweet, sometimes they are not, your sugar amount will depend on how sweet you want it. I also like to allow it to sit with the sugar for an hour or so, then adjust as necessary, adding a bit more if needed.

cranberry relish | adding sugar

Make Ahead Holiday Side – No Oven Necessary

Stir until well incorporated. Then at this point if desired, refrigerate until ready to serve, may make ahead 4-5 days.

Now, walnuts in my opinion bring this up to a whole new level of yumminess and crunch! But I like to add them just before serving so they stay their crunchiest!

But toast them ahead of time and have them all chopped and ready to add in, you can even put them in a baggie and place on top of the relish in your fridge, so you won’t forget to add them at serving.

How to Toast Walnuts

Start by giving them a good rough chop, or be all fancy and buy them pre-chopped! Next, warm up a pan over medium heat. I like to use a cast iron pan, just feels like it toasts them more evenly.

Toss them in the pan, shake around for a couple of minutes, tossing the pan every 30 seconds or so, so one side doesn’t get too toasted.

Walnuts Toasting | Cranberry Relish

Allow to cool completely prior to stirring them into the relish. Once cooled, stir into relish and serve immediately.

Adding Walnuts | Cranberry Relish

Scoop the fresh cranberry relish into a pretty glass serving bowl, it’s such a beautiful red color you won’t want to hid this dish but instead put it on full display. Encourage your guests to take a little spoonful, a little goes a long way!

Enjoy your holiday season! See below the recipe for more mouthwatering Holiday side dishes!

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bowl of cranberry relish | via @thefreshcooky
Yield: 8-10 servings

Fresh Cranberry Relish

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This cranberry relish is super simple and is a beautiful addition to your holiday menu! Bright and festive, sweet and tart, 4 ingredients to this quick dish.


  • 1 package of fresh cranberries, washed and picked through (I used Ocean Spray Organic)
  • Zest from one medium naval orange
  • 1 container pomegranate arils (optional)
  • 1 naval orange (zest first, then peel)
  • 1 mandarin orange, peeled (optional)
  • ¼ - ½ cup all natural sugar (to taste)
  • ½ - 1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted (optional)


  1. Rinse cranberries, discarding any mushy or discolored cranberries. Place cranberries in hopper of food processor and pulse until finely chopped, stopping and scraping down sides as needed. (or may be done in small batches, a cup at a time in a blender), transfer crushed cranberries to a bowl before adding more.
  2. During last batch of cranberries, add your pomegranates arils and grind fine, if desired, or place them whole in the relish or leave out. Remove chopped cranberries to a glass bowl.
  3. Zest Navel orange, reserve zest. Peel orange(s) and section them, toss into hopper of food processor and pulse until no large chunks remain. Will be pulpy and juicy.
  4. Pour orange pulp/juice and zest into cranberries and stir to combine. Start by adding ¼ cup of sugar, stirring to combine. Taste after an hour, if necessary add a bit more sugar until desired sweetness is reached.
  5. Chop walnuts. To Toast; preheat a small pan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and toss in your walnuts.
  6. Shake walnuts in pan, for about 2-3 minutes until they are toasted and a nutty aroma emits from them. Cool completely, then stir into relish just prior to serving. Serve in glass bowl, will keep 4-5 days in fridge.
  7. Delicious layered on a leftover turkey sandwich! Easily doubled or tripled to accommodate a crowd.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 101Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 3gSugar: 11gProtein: 2g

The nutritional information is estimated and may not be entirely accurate, at times it pulls information for suggestions and options which may increase calories, etc.

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Holiday Sides

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