With hints of orange, fresh ginger, and cinnamon, this truly is THE BEST Cranberry Relish Ever! One taste and you’ll never buy storebought again!
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 saying.
Now I love love LOVE fresh cranberries and one of my favorite things is my Lemon Cranberry Orange Bruffins however I’ve never found a homemade cranberry relish I’ve liked.
They were either sickening sweet, had 9,000 things in them (seriously.. nuts in cranberry relish? No, never “in” it) 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.
The ONLY time I add toasted pecans is when I serve it on a sandwich or atop baked brie. I don’t like it with nuts in it.
Ingredients needed to make the Ultimate Cranberry Relish
Cranberries are crazy tart so you need to balance out the tartness.
I went with:
- fresh cranberries
- orange zest
- cranberry juice. Note, that it’s not a juice cocktail but actual cranberry juice. If you can’t find it, you can use orange juice. Just don’t use the cocktail stuff as that’s typically full of sugar and little to no real fruit juice.
Sugar is a given as they are crazy tart. The ginger helped give it a zing while the cinnamon gave it that warm tone.
The orange zest helps keep it light and bright.
How to make the best cranberry relish
This recipe is ridiculously easy to make.
- Put the liquid, sugar, and seasonings to a boil and then pop in the cranberries.
- Boil just until the berries start to pop.
- Skim the foam off, ladle it into jars and store once cooled in the fridge.
Note: 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.
A Chef’s Tip about making Cranberry Relish
Almost all fruit, when you boil it will release a foam. This isn’t anything bad.
It’s simply air bubbles trapped in the cooked-down fruit. It looks funky and unappealing.
What I recommend is to 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. You will still get a little foam but the butter helps reduce it considerably.
Adding items to your Cranberry Relish
- If you wanted to kick this up a notch you could easily add in some minced jalapeno to give it an over-the-top taste while the mixture is cooking.
- Add in some bourbon or whiskey while the liquids are boiling to give it a true flavor treat!
- I do have a Grownup version of this that includes Bacon and Bourbon!
How to Store Cranberry Relish
You have a couple of ways to store or preserve this:
- Pour into glass mason jars and store in the fridge for a few months
- Can (preserve) them. Fill the jars like you would when making homemade jam/jelly and preserve them using the water bath method. I put them in the water bath for 15 minutes, remove, them to a cooling rack, and allow them to set like that until completely cooled. Check your seals to ensure that they are sealed properly. By doing this they will last upwards to a year.
These make GORGEOUS gifts!
One note though is if you add any type of meat to this, you cannot use the water bath method to preserve it. You will need to use a canner that is for preserving meat.
Uses for Cranberry Relish
- Thanksgiving Gobbler Rolls – seriously, these rolls are the epitome of Thanksgiving in a sweet roll!
- I always keep a jar of this in my fridge as it’s great in cakes, sauces, or yes, even on toast.
- Thanksgiving Gobbler Meatballs – trust me on these when I tell you that these meatballs are Thanksgiving in a single delicious bite!
- For a savory treat… add this on top of a brie round, wrap it in the dough, and bake. Oh dear LORD child you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven!
- This as the fruit filling of a cupcake or cake with some cream cheese frosting or better yet, cheesecake… EPIC!
- Let a brick of cream cheese come to room temperature, spoon some of the cranberry relish on top, and serve with crostini!
What I tend to do is buy about 4 pounds of cranberries when they are in 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, it’s not the same as the ones you get fresh.
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.
So this Thanksgiving alongside your turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes you need to have this gorgeous dish as well.Print
- 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 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
- Zest of 1 orange – just the orange part
- In a large, heavy saucepan, add sugar, juice and cinnamon and grated ginger.
- Cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves, syrup is clear and comes to a rolling boil, about 3 minutes.
- In a colander, rinse and pick over the cranberries to remove any mushy ones.
- 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.
- Skim the foam off the surface with a metal spoon and discard.
- Remove from heat, stir in orange zest and cool to room temperature, uncovered.
- 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.
Keywords: cranberry relish, side dish, thanksgiving, christmas, fresh cranberries