The best Cranberry Relish… ever! No really, like EVER!

So growing up my mother would gratuitously buy that canned cranberry gelatinous stuff.  Now I’m not knocking it but there is just something odd about it.  Actually I think it’s that suction sound it makes coming out of the can that wigs me out more than anything.  Food shouldn’t make that sound.  Just sayin…

Now I love love LOVE fresh cranberries and one of my favorite things to me is my Lemon Cranberry Orange Bruffins however I’ve never found a homemade cranberry relish I’ve liked.  Their were either sickening sweet, had 9,000 things in it (seriously.. nuts in cranberry relish?  Um no, that’s yucky) OR it was so bitter that every part of your body puckered.  So that being said I set out on making what I feel is the ultimate cranberry relish.

Cranberry Relish5

I knew what flavors went together but it was just figuring out the ratio.  Once I got that down, I was in LOVEEEEEEEEE.  I always keep a jar of this in my fridge as it’s great in cakes, sauces or yes, even on toast.  Plus if you want a savory treat… add this on top of a brie round, wrap it in dough and bake.  Oh dear LORD child you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven!

Cranberry Relish

Anyway, I thought it was time to share this with you having Thanksgiving next week.  Now please, continue buying the canned stuff as it’s good in its own right however I strongly urge you to make this! You see once you taste this amazing relish you’ll use it more than just for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This as the fruit filling of a cupcake or cake with some cream cheese frosting or better yet, cheesecake… EPIC!

If you wanted to kick this up a notch you could easily add in some crispy minced bacon and minced jalapeno to give it an over-the-top taste. Or add in some bourbon or whiskey while the liquids are boiling to give it a true flavor treat!

Cranberry Relish1

What I tend to do is buy about 4 pounds of cranberries when they are season and then just freeze them as this stuff in the summer over grilled pork chops is incredible.  And trust me I learned my lesson the hard way one summer trying to find cranberries in the store.  Yeah, you can buy frozen but nah, it’s not the same as the ones you get fresh.

This recipe is ridiculously easy to make. Just bring the liquid, sugar and seasonings to a boil and then pop in the cranberries.  What I recommend is add a small dab of butter to the mix to help curb the foaming.  You really want to remove that stuff for your final presentation.  It doesn’t really muddle the taste much but it makes the mixture cloudy.

Cranberry Relish2

When you make this  if you don’t like the whole berries, once it’s cooked just puree it or run it through a food mill.  Same great flavor, just no chunks. But then I’d guess you’d have to call it Cranberry Sauce and not relish cause relish kinda implies chunks.

Cranberry Relish3

So this Thanksgiving along side your turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes you need to have this gorgeous dish as well.

Cranberry Relish4

The best Cranberry Relish... ever! No really, like EVER!


Serves: 3-4 cups

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  • 1 - 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (go with 1 cup if you prefer a more tart version)
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 16 ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • Zest of 1 orange - just the orange part
  1. In a large, heavy saucepan, add sugar, juice and cinnamon and grated ginger.
  2. Cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves, syrup is clear and comes to a rolling boil, about 3 minutes.
  3. In a colander, rinse and pick over the cranberries to remove any mushy ones.
  4. Add cranberries to boiling syrup and continue cooking, uncovered, just until they begin to pop, about 2-5 minutes (set the timer). Be careful not to cook them too long or they will get mushy.
  5. Skim the foam off the surface with a metal spoon and discard.
  6. Remove from heat, stir in orange zest and cool to room temperature, uncovered.
  7. Place in container, cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 months.
If you prefer to have it smoother, once you add in the orange zest either use an Immersion blender on it or run it through a food mill/sieve to remove any pieces.



28 Responses to “The best Cranberry Relish… ever! No really, like EVER!”

  • Mel says:

    What is the heat temp to start?

  • Michele Webb says:

    So, this original recipe sounds like it will be the replacement for my blended, uncooked version of gritty, sugary cranberry relish! I can’t wait to try this one!! I do think I will have to wait on the new Adult version though, as the 80-something year old in-laws will not appreciate the heat!! So, the kicked up version will most definitely go perfect with the leftovers on the weekend!!! Thanks so much for the heads up that this recipe was up and ready!!

  • Sue dm says:

    Do you really mean one pound of cranberries, all I see sold are in 12 oz bags. .

  • Victoria says:

    Thanks for the input. I found the real stuff. Making it this year for sure!

  • Becky says:

    Hi there!
    Do you think that I could double the recipe and cook it all at once? Or should I make 2 batches? I probably need about 12 servings. And is this supposed to be served warm or cold? It’s been years since I’ve made a cranberry dish. Thanks!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Becky!

      Yes you can double it. I would start with less sugar than the full amount. You can always add more once you taste it (just watch so you don’t burn your mouth).

      You can do cold for desserts or sandwiches. Warmed for day warmed turkey or the like.

      Happy Thanksgiving and Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Carrie Hodges says:

    just heads up, this is really sweet. i would reduce the sugar by at least 1/2 cup. but the ginger and orange flavor is nice

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Carrie!

      Thanks! I updated the recipe to 1 – 1 1/4 cups of sugar depending on how tart vs sweet someone likes their relish. It’s great to have options 🙂

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Nikki Smith says:

    Hello, Please indicate when to add the grated ginger. Are you calling it one of the spices, so it would go in with the cinnamon?
    Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Nikki,

      Yes you’d add the grated ginger with the cinnamon. I’ll update the recipe to call it out specifically. Thanks!

      Happy Thanksgiving and Best Kitchen Wishes!

      • Nikki Smith says:

        Hi, KW!
        Thank you for your reply. I just made it. It is cooling now but I tasted it and it was delish and I don’t like cranberry relish/sauce! For the juice, I used 1/2 cup of Ocean Spray ‘CranCherry’ juice and it adds another yummy layer.I didn’t get much foam off…will it be okay?
        Love Your Site!!!

  • Krysten says:

    Hi, so this would be tasty to go along with your bite of turkey meat, correct?

    Also, could you give me a run down as to when you’d add the bacon and jalapeño or liquor and if all three can be done together? 😀

    I think you should create a cranberry relish 2.0 recipe with the additives you mentioned in your post 😀

    Please and thanks for your reply!!!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      OMG yes, it’s AMAZING with turkey (chicken, pork and cream cheese!). I’m actually working on an ‘adult’ version of this recipe right now. It’s actually called “The Best Cranberry Relish v2.0” and it’ll be posted this week 🙂

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Victoria Henning says:

    Do I need to use 100% cranberry juice for the recipe?


    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Victoria,

      Do you “need” to? No. If you can get it, then yes as you’ll get a more true cranberry flavor. But I do know that even if the bottle says 100% pure cranberry juice it may actually have grape juice in it as well. This is ok.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Danielle says:

    If I don’t have access to fresh ginger, could I substitute a smaller amount of ground ginger?

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Danielle.

      You can but only use a teeny amount of powdered. Like we’re talking 1/16th of a teaspoon. Ground is super potent so really go teensy on it when you add it.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • CathyPerkins says:

    Hard to find pure cranberry juice…I used pomegranate. Stuck my finger in, delicious!

  • Brehon G. says:


    I was wondering would this recipe be ideal for canning for gift giving/planning ahead.

    Thank You,

    Brehon G.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Brehon,

      Yes you can. Use the water bath method and process for 15 minutes for pints.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

      • Brehon G. says:

        Thank You very much for the speedy response!!! I plan to make make this recipe this upcoming weekend!!

        Again thank you,

        Brehon G.

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