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Easy Cranberry Orange Relish Recipe

Easy cranberry orange relish adds a pop of tarty-tanginess to your holiday table and does it with less refined sugar than the canned version. Use fresh cranberries, an orange, and a bit of honey for the perfect side dish to compliment heavier winter dishes.

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a bowl of cranberry orange relish on a table with an orange and a spoon in the bowl

What’s the difference between cranberry sauce and cranberry orange relish?

Homemade cranberry sauce is made from either whole cranberries or their juice cooked down with sugar and gelatin (if it’s canned) to make a jell-o style smooth, firm mixture.

Cranberry relish uses the whole uncooked cranberry and orange–even the rind of the orange–to make a brighter and fresher side dish.

Relish is not thickened, can be sweetened with any sugar you like, and does not need to be cooked.

  • Honey – Honey is a great option, just make sure to choose one that’s light in color. The very dark wildflower honeys have a strong flavor that will overpower the relish.
  • Cane sugar – Take cane sugar over regular granulated sugar if that’s what you’re choosing between. Use it as a 1:1 swap for granulated sugar or honey.
  • Maple sugar, date sugar, coconut sugar – These alternative sweeteners are all options though each carries its own unique pros and cons. I don’t love the flavor of coconut sugar, it just tastes burned. And in a recipe like this you will definitely taste it. Maple sugar is mild but expensive. Date sugar can be hard to find.
  • Regular old granulated – If that’s what you have and want to use, you do you. We gave up white sugar a long while back because of its health risks, but it will swap here 1:1 for the honey used in the recipe.

How to make cranberry orange relish

Step 1: Wash, stem and remove any squishy cranberries and transfer to a food processor. I love this small 3 cup Cuisinart.

whole cranberries in a food processor with the lid off

Pulse until the cranberries are roughly chopped. We like ours coarse for texture but you can make yours as finely pureed as you choose.

 a food processor with chopped cranberries

Step 2: Transfer the chopped cranberries to a bowl and add a quartered whole organic orange, rind and all to the food processor. No need to clean it between fruits. It’s important to use an organic orange when using the rind.

four orange quarters in a food processor to be chopped

Pulse two or three times until the orange is chopped similarly to the cranberries and transfer the oranges to the bowl with them.

a food processor with chopped oranges inside on a wooden table

Mix the cranberries and oranges together with your preferred sweetener. Let the mixture sit either at room temperature if you will be serving in a couple of hours, or cover and refrigerate up to 5 days before you need it.

The mixture will soften and the juices will release from the fruit as the flavors meld so make it at least a few hours beforehand.

A couple of days in advance makes the best flavor.

a bowl with chopped oranges and cranberries on a wooden table

Do cranberries and oranges taste good together? Isn’t the orange rind bitter?

Yes they taste wonderful together. Because cranberries are so incredibly tart, the orange adds a lovely sweetness.

And don’t worry about the orange rind. It just marries in perfectly and the sweetener you use will round out the flavors. No bitterness to be found.

Can cranberry relish be made ahead or frozen?

Yes you can make it ahead. In fact, I recommend putting it together 2 to 3 days before you want to serve it if you can. It will last in your fridge for about 5-7 days in an airtight container.

I don’t recommend freezing though. As with any fruit or vegetable that’s frozen, it’s going to be very soft and watery when it thaws. The texture won’t be the same.

a bowl of cranberry orange relish with a spoon in it

Ways to jazz up this easy relish recipe

This recipe is for cranberry purists, but if you want a bit more pizzazz, consider:

  • Adding nuts – walnuts or chopped pecans would be good here
  • Addition fruit – a bit of fresh pineapple would be delicious
  • Booze – I’m not a drinker so I can’t really direct you on that, but Grand Mariner is popular.

What to serve with cranberry orange relish

If it’s on your holiday table, this relish goes with any of it! Personally I find it delicious piled up on the holiday turkey or as a condiment on your sandwiches the next day.

For those of us who watch our sugar intake, cranberry relish is often my bit of dessert. I think it’s the perfect ending to a heavy meal.

In the winter while cranberries are available, this side dish could go with any cozy soup and rolls.

a bowl of cranberry orange relish with a spoon in it

Easy Cranberry Orange Relish

Ditch the jiggly can and make a fresher, brighter cold weather side dish where you control the sweetness
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 days
Servings 5 people
Author Rachel Ballard


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries washed, dried and picked over for twigs or shriveled berries
  • 1 medium navel orange organic is best; stem removed if present, quartered with skin on
  • 2/3 cup raw honey as light in color as you can find; see note 1


  • Using a food processor, chop the cranberries to a rough consistency. If you want yours very finely pureed, blend as long as you like.
    a food processor with chopped cranberries
  • Transfer cranberries to a bowl and add the orange, rind and all. Pulse three or four times until the orange is about the same size as the cranberries.
    a food processor with chopped oranges inside on a wooden table
  • Mix the cranberries and oranges together in a medium bowl and add the honey or sweetener of your choice. Stir well and if serving soon, you can leave the mixture out at room temperature for a couple of hours.
  • If you are serving later, refrigerate until ready to serve. The relish will be good for up to a week in an airtight container.


Note 1: 2/3 cup honey was plenty of sweetness for us but we rarely eat sugar anymore, and everyone is different. If it’s too tart for you, add more sweetener of choice until you’re happy with it. 
See post for sweetener substitution ideas, but maple syrup, maple sugar, date sugar or regular granulated sugar will all work here. 


Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 182kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 1gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.05gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.02gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 124mgFiber: 3gSugar: 42gVitamin A: 110IUVitamin C: 26mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 0.4mg
Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
Course Side Dish
Keyword cranberry orange relish

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About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.