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.
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 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!
It’s super simple, only 4-5 ingredients. I made a small batch but this easily doubles and triples!
Ingredients for Cranberry Relish
- Fresh Cranberries
- Pomegranate arils (optional)
- Naval Orange (or Cutie, Clementine)
- All natural unbleached sugar
- Walnuts (optional)
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.
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
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Cheesy Funeral Potatoes, Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Yeast Rolls, Brown Bread Rolls
- Sausage Stuffing
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.
Toss zest into cranberries…
Then pour in pulpy orange juice and stir to combine.
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.
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.
Allow to cool completely prior to stirring them into the relish. Once cooled, stir into relish and serve immediately.
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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Fresh Cranberry Relish
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- 1 package fresh cranberries washed and picked through (I used Ocean Spray Organic)
- 1 container pomegranate arils optional
- 1 naval orange zest first, then peel
- 1 mandarin orange peeled (optional)
- ¼ – ½ cup sugar all natural; to taste
- ½ – 1 cup walnuts chopped and toasted (optional)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chop walnuts. To Toast; preheat a small pan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and toss in your walnuts.
- 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.
- Delicious layered on a leftover turkey sandwich! Easily doubled or tripled to accommodate a crowd.