This Cranberry Orange Relish is unlike any other recipe you’ve had before thanks to a few special ingredients. Plus, it’s a breeze to whip up by pulsing fresh or previously frozen cranberries, toasted walnuts, diced apple, and orange chunks in a food processor. No one will ever request the canned stuff again once you have this new Thanksgiving and Christmas favorite!

A metal spoon is used to serve this orange cranberry relish.

Best Cranberry Orange Relish Recipe

Believe it or not, there actually is a difference between a Cranberry Orange Sauce and a Cranberry Orange Relish.

sauce requires you to add your ingredients to a pot, bring everything to a boil, and then simmer until it reduces into a thick, gelatinous-like consistency. (Yes, much like the kind that comes in a jar!)

But a relish? It’s so very different. 

I realized this when one of my good friends brought this fresh, light, and surprisingly addicting recipe to our Thanksgiving potluck dinner.

It was a delicious mix of fresh cranberries, toasted walnuts, and chunks of oranges and apples, all pulsed quickly and easily in a food processor. 

You’d think something this simple wouldn’t taste so good, but with a few secret ingredients (cinnamon and rosemary!) the flavors are taken over the top! Plus, making the whole thing takes less than 10 minutes.

Don’t miss out on the best cranberry relish when it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner, or anytime this holiday season.

Cranberries, orange, sweetener, herbs, and nuts are the ingredients for this dish.
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  • Cranberries. You can grab fresh, tart cranberries from the grocery store if they’re available. If not, look for frozen cranberries, but let them thaw first.
  • Orange. A fresh naval orange is needed for both its juice and zest. 
  • Apple. You can use whatever type of apple you have on hand. However, a firmer one is best so it doesn’t get too mushy in the relish. Be sure to leave the skin on. You can opt for a Fuji, Granny Smith Apple, or any kind you prefer. (Here’s more info on the different types of apples.)
  • Walnuts. Toasted walnuts add a savory bite to the relish and cooking them enhances the texture.
  • Sweetener. A little honey, maple syrup, or sugar is needed to balance out the tartness of the cranberries.
  • Seasonings. Vanilla extract, finely chopped rosemary, salt, and ground cinnamon round out the flavor profile of this dish.
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How to Make Cranberry Orange Relish

Please see the recipe card below for ingredient amounts and more detailed instructions.

Prep the Fruit

If the cranberries are frozen, let them thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, drain off any extra liquid. This recipe is best when the raw cranberries are cold, however.

Zest the orange first, and then separate the fruit into smaller pieces. (Learn more about how to zest citrus!)

Cut the apple into 1-inch chunks. Be sure to leave the skin on.

Apple, orange, and herbs are prepped for this recipe.

Pulse the Ingredients

Add the chilled cranberries along with the orange pieces, zest, apple chunks, toasted walnuts, sweetener, vanilla extract, rosemary, salt, and cinnamon to a food processor.

Pulse the mixture 15 to 30 times. You still want some chunks, but it needs to be well-combined with very small pieces.

All of the relish ingredients are added to a food processor.

Serve the Relish

If you made this easy recipe with cold cranberries, it’s ready to go.

However, if the cranberries were room temperature, this dish will be best after sitting in the fridge for about 2 hours.

A metal spoon is used to serve this orange cranberry relish.

What is the difference between cranberry sauce and cranberry relish?

The main difference between cranberry sauce and cranberry relish is that sauce is cooked on the stove to thicken it, somewhat like jam, and relish is served raw. However, they both contain similar flavors and are delicious on Thanksgiving Day or for Christmas dinner.

What is cranberry relish made of?

Fresh cranberry relish is a flavorful mix of cranberries, oranges, apple, and seasonings, like cinnamon and rosemary. You can adjust the ingredients to your preference.

How do you eat cranberry relish?

It’s so simple to eat cranberry relish—just add a spoonful to your favorite dishes. Of course, it’s perfect with Thanksgiving turkey or chicken. But you can also add it to salads and other recipes. Don’t forget to smear some onto leftover turkey sandwiches!

How much sugar is in cranberry orange relish?

Depending on the recipe, there is anywhere from ¼- to 1-cup sugar in cranberry orange relish. If you make your own, you can easily adapt it by using natural sweeteners or including less sugar overall.

Recipe Tips

  • Chill out. If using frozen berries, let them thaw overnight before using.
  • Make it early. This dish will keep for up to a week, so save time on the big day by making it ahead of time.
  • DIY. It’s simple and easy to toast your own walnuts, and it makes a huge difference in the texture.
  • Give it a rest. This easy recipe only gets more flavorful as it sits in the fridge.
  • Go fresh. You’ll want a whole orange along with fresh rosemary for maximum flavor in this dish.

What to Serve with Cranberry Orange Relish

It’s not just for Thanksgiving… you can add this cranberry orange relish to so many other dishes.

Serve this cranberry relish alongside lean meats, like Spatchcock Chicken or Air Fryer Boneless Chicken Thighs.

Or, add it to a salad, like Lemon Arugula Salad or a Fall Harvest Salad.

For an easy appetizer, pair it with Fried Goat Cheese and crackers.

Orange cranberry relish is served over turkey at a holiday meal.

More Holiday Side Dish Recipes

Along with this relish, put these other easy side dish recipes on the holiday meal plan.

Traditional dishes, like Scalloped Potatoes and Sweet Potato Casserole, are must-haves on a Thanksgiving table.

You can also try something new, like Mashed Butternut Squash or Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, or this Sweet Potato au Gratin.

Whip up this Orange Cranberry Sauce recipe if you like the classic version, too.

If you’ve never had Corn Soufflé, be sure to try it this year!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 4 votes

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

This Cranberry Orange Relish is unlike any other recipe you’ve had before thanks to a few special ingredients. Plus, it’s a breeze to whip up by pulsing fresh or previously frozen cranberries, toasted walnuts, diced apple, and orange chunks in a food processor.
Yield 16 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Total 10 minutes
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  • 12 oz. frozen cranberries thawed (about 3 cups)*
  • 1 navel orange zest and fruit
  • 1 cup apple cut into 1-inch chunks with skin intact
  • ½ cup walnuts chopped and toasted
  • cup honey pure maple syrup, or sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. rosemary finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt to taste
  • tsp. cinnamon


  • Prep the Fruit: If using previously frozen cranberries, allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Zest the orange and then separate the fruit into pieces. Cut the apple into 1-inch chunks.
  • Pulse Ingredients: Add the chilled cranberries to a large 10 to 14-cup food processor along with the orange pieces, apple chunks, walnuts, zest, honey or sugar, vanilla extract, rosemary, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse 15-30 times, or until to your desired consistency.
    12 oz. frozen cranberries, 1 navel orange, 1 cup apple, ½ cup walnuts, ⅓ cup honey, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. rosemary, ½ tsp. salt, ⅛ tsp. cinnamon
  • Serve immediately, if your cranberries were chilled, or refrigerator for 2 hours before serving if they were at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 4 votes



  • You can also use fresh cranberries but you will need to refrigerate the relish after making in order to chill it.

Dietary Modifications

The recipe you’ll find below is already gluten-free and vegetarian as written. Here are some adjustments and substitutions you can make to help it fit your other dietary requirements:
  • Sugar-free: Stick with a natural sweetener.
  • Nut-free: Leave the walnuts out.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • How to prep-ahead: This is a great recipe to make early. Whip up this relish and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days before you need it. The flavors will continue to marry.
  • How to store: Place leftover relish in an airtight container and leave it in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • How to freeze: You can definitely freeze cranberry relish in freezer bags for up to 3 to 4 months. Just be wary of refreezing previously frozen berries. Also, the texture might change upon thawing.


Calories: 98kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 0.3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Sodium: 61mg, Potassium: 57mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 44IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 15mg, Iron: 0.3mg

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

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5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

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