Must-Have Thanksgiving Dish: Fresh Cranberry Relish from TheKitchn

For the month of November, we have asked some of our favorite food bloggers to share recipes for their must-have Thanksgiving dishes. Join us to see what will be on their tables this year and for years to come.


Fresh Cranberry Relish by Elizabeth from TheKitchn


  Fresh Cranberry Relish by Elizabeth Pasarella


Given all of the labor-intensive things that make up a Thanksgiving table (anyone brined a turkey lately?), cranberry relish is beloved for being relatively easy. So when I say that my family's cranberry relish recipe for many years involved a meat grinder, you might think, "Yeah, right. I'll take the can." But trust me: This is easy, and it's the perfect combination of tart and sweet, juicy and crunchy. Also, I now use a food processor.


My grandmother (and then my parents) used the meat grinder because she put whole oranges, peel and all, into the relish, and the old-fashioned grinder created nice texture. But over the years, my sister and I have eliminated the peel; it always tasted slightly bitter. This version has cranberries, of course, plus sectioned oranges, apples, pecans, and, the secret ingredient, some canned pineapple. It is like a minced fruit salad, which is a nice accompaniment to all of the hot stuff on your plate. We treat it like a pre-dessert—something sweet to tide us over until the pies are sliced. If stores sold bags of fresh cranberries year-round, I'd eat it all the time. Fortunately, it freezes beautifully, so not only can you freeze it for later, you can also make it a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Leaving you more time to brine that turkey.


Fresh Cranberry Relish

makes about four cups


1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1 large orange (or 2 small), sectioned and chopped into small pieces*
1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
1/3 cup canned, crushed pineapple (drained of excess juice)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Rinse and drain the cranberries.

2. Then pulse them about 12-15 times in a food processor until finely chopped but not pulverized. Put in a large bowl.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and allow to sit for an hour or two in the refrigerator before serving, so that the sugar can dissolve and the flavors can mingle. This relish also freezes well.


*To section an orange: Slice off a small disk from the bottom of the orange, so that it sits still on a cutting board. Use a chef's knife to carve down the sides, removing the peel in about 4 or 5 pieces. Use a paring knife to cut into the orange on either side of the thin membranes that separate each section. The sections should wiggle free and come out. Then roughly chop and add to the relish.


Elizabeth Schatz Passarella is a freelance writer, and frequent contributor to Real Simple in addition to several other publications. She blogs for TheKitchn, and loves pork but has an aversion to lentils.

(image and recipe by Elizabeth Passarella)


Do you serve cranberry relish or sauce for Thanksgiving? If so, which do you prefer: fresh or canned?