Cranberry Relish

With just five simple ingredients this Cranberry Relish will add a pop of color and a side dish full of nutrients that will be a great addition to the table at any holiday gathering.

a small bowl of cranberry relish next to lemon, garnish, and single cranberries

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, everyone is finalizing their Thanksgiving Day menu. Thanksgiving dinner is all about timing. What needs to be in/out the oven or stovetop. I am always a fan of the menu items that can be made ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about factoring that in the day of the festivities.

This recipe is inspired by one of my friend’s aunt’s recipe. (Hi Steph!) I was scrambling last week to get a menu together for my Thanksgiving cooking class at work. I’ve been teaching multiple Thanksgiving Day-themed cooking classes for work the past 3 years now. I get a lot of the same people attending the classes, so I didn’t want to repeat any previous recipes used in class.

I tend to catch up with family and friends on my way to and from work in the car. Whoever invented Bluetooth, thank you! I was chatting with Steph on my way home from work and I mentioned how I didn’t know what I was making yet for my class the next day. She was told me about her Aunt’s cranberry relish recipe that her family goes crazy for every year. What I really loved about it was it was only a few simple ingredients and everything goes right into a food processor. Plus, it is a recipe that can be made ahead of time. I did tweak the original recipe to make it healthier.

Cranberries: What’s So Great About Them?

I’m so glad you asked! Cranberries are actually full of antioxidants known as PACs, which may help reduce inflammation related to chronic diseases and aging.

A cup of fresh cranberries is a great source of fiber and Vitamin C, but the downside is that they only come into season during the fall.

The good news is that you can buy up several bags of fresh cranberries and freeze them to have year-round!

Also, research indicates that consumption of flavonoids in foods and beverages may decrease the risk of atherosclerosis.

In vitro and in vivo experiments with flavonoids demonstrate that flavonoids are dietary antioxidants and inhibit LDL oxidation, inhibit platelet aggregation and adhesion, inhibit enzymes involved in lipid and lipoprotein metabolism that affect the immune response to oxidized LDL and their uptake by endothelial macrophages, may induce endothelium-dependent vassorelaxation, and may increase reverse cholesterol transport and decrease total and LDL cholesterol.

Cranberries contain both hydroxycinnamic acids and flavonoids. The cranberry flavonoids belong to three groups: anthocyanins, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins, which make cranberries a great addition as part of a heart-healthy diet. Source: The Cranberry Insitute.

infographic describing the health benefits and nutrition of cranberries

What You Need For Cranberry Relish

  • fresh cranberries
  • lemon
  • pineapple rings – I am using canned with the juice drained, you can use fresh if you would like.
  • sugar
  • honey

How To Make Cranberry Relish

Add the cranberries to the food processor and pulse until they begin breaking down. Depending on the size of your food processor you may have to do this in batches.

Slice the lemon into wedges and remove the seeds. Add the wedges, with the peel on, to the processor and pulse just until it breaks down.

Then add the sugar, honey, and pineapple rings. Continue pulsing until the relish reaches your desired consistency.

Can You Make Cranberry Relish with Nuts?

Yes! Because I recommend chilling cranberry relish overnight so all of the flavors come together, fold them in just before serving. Pecans and walnuts pair well with cranberry dishes, but you can add any variety of nuts.

I like smaller pieces, so if you have whole pecan or walnuts chop you can chop by hand or throw them in a food processor for a few pulses.

close up of cranberry relish made with real cranberries next to lemon half

What’s the Difference Between Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Relish?

Relish is made with raw ingredients that are blended together then chilled. Traditionally cranberry sauce is actually cooked (unless you are eating it from the can) and is much sweeter.

Can You Use Frozen Cranberries?

You can use frozen, just know the flavor is much more muted, but that’s usually the case when you swap frozen fruits and veggies for fresh.

Be sure you allow for some additional time so they can thaw completely. Then drain the cranberries to remove the excess liquid.

Cranberry Relish Serving Suggestions

In case you were wondering, here are some of the popular ways cranberry relish is served.

  • As a holiday side dish
  • Over Brie or cream cheese
  • With crackers – you could use a salty variety or graham crackers for a sweeter version
  • Topping – use the leftover to top off your pancakes, waffles, or yogurt bowls

How Long is Cranberry Relish Good For?

You can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. This also means you can make it ahead of time if you are prepping for holiday meals to ease the stress! 

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cranberry relish in a white bowl

Cranberry Relish

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: side dish


  • 1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 (20 oz) can pineapple rings, juice drained
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey


  1. Place cranberries in a large food processor and pulse to begin to break down the cranberries.
  2. Cut lemon into small wedges and remove any seeds. Add the whole lemon to the food processor with the cranberries (do NOT remove the peel). Pulse to begin to break down the lemons with the cranberries.
  3. Add pineapple, sugar, and honey. Pulse to reach desired consistency.
  4. Let chill overnight to allow the flavors to come together.


*If using frozen cranberries, let thaw completely and drain to remove any excess liquid before preparing this recipe.

Keywords: cranberry relish, cranberry, side dish, thanksgiving, holiday

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Chef Julie Harrington, RD - Culinary Nutrition Consultant of
two image collage of cranberry relish with text overlay

Everything but the turkey, Thanksgiving menu

My favorite holiday is just a few days away! I love Thanksgiving because it’s all about friends, family, and FOOD! 
Everything but the turkey, Thanksgiving menu via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen

I realized I have a ton of recipes that would be a good addition to a Thanksgiving menu. Turkey is pretty much a staple, but the sides are just as important. I get sad when I see a Thanksgiving spread of just beige/white foods. Bring on the colors! Bring on the flavors! All of these recipes contain ingredients or concepts of a traditional Thanksgiving recipe, but with a dietitian/chef twist.


Soups are a great way to start the Thanksgiving meal. Soups are an easy way to pack in nutrients and big bold flavors. This Butternut & Acorn Squash Soup has easily become one of my favorites. It’s creamy without any cream or dairy! How? Check out the recipe to find out.

Butternut & Acorn Squash Soup


Skip the boring tossed salad and add some seasonal ingredients to create a colorful dish.
Citrus Beet Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette Dressing via RDelicious Kitchen via RDelicious Kitchen @rd_kitchen #salad #citrus #salad #beets #seasonal

Citrus Beet Salad 

Warm Kale Salad with Delicata Squash and Pomegranate via RDelicious Kitchen via RDelicious Kitchen @rd_kitchen #kale #delicatasquash #squash #fall #pomegratate #warm #salad #thanksgiving

Warm Kale Salad with Delicata Squash and Pomegranate

Side Dishes:

The side dishes really make up the bulk of the Thanksgiving Day menu. Aim to create a very colorful spread. Different colors mean different nutrients. Think outside the traditional Thanksgiving menu and add new recipes to your holiday table.
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #mashed #potatoes #cauliflower #lowcarb #sidedish #healthy #thanksgiving #garlic

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Cranberry Relish via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_kitchen #cranberry #relish #lowsugar #thanksgiving #sidedish #wellness #recipe #healthyholiday #holiday

Cranberry Relish

Roasted Maple-Mustard Glazed Brussels Sprouts via RDelicious Kitchen via RDelicious Kitchen @rd_kitchen #brusselssprouts #thanksgiving #sidedishes # lowcarb #maple #mustard

Maple Mustard Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Garlic Parmesan Smashed Potatoes via RDelicious Kitchen @rdkitchen

Garlic Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

Honey Roasted Carrots via RDelicious Kitchen @rd_kitchen #carrots #honey #roasted #sidedish #thanksgiving

Honey Roasted Carrots

Shaved Asparagus via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #asparagus #salad #greens #lowcarb #sidedish #thanksgiving

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Vegan Green Bean Casserole via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #greenbean #greenbeancasserole #vegan #glutenfree #thanksgiving

Vegan Green Bean Casserole

*To access this recipe, try a FREE trial of my anti-inflammatory meal plan


If you are looking to lighten up your holiday desserts, simply just trim back the amount of sugar. Trust me, no one will even notice. You can also try one of my seasonal dessert recipes too!
[No Bake] Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #pumpkin #tofu #cheesecake #mousse #dessert #lowsugar #singleserve #healthy #pumpkinspice #thanksgiving

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

Orange Cranberry Bread via RDelicious Kitchen @rd_kitchen #wholegrain #cranberry #orange #bread #quickbread #muffins

Whole Grain Orange Cranberry Bread

Greek Yogurt Pumpkin Pie Bars via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #pumpkin #pumpkinpie #wellness #healthy #dessert #lowfat #bars #thanksgiving #holiday

Greek Yogurt Pumpkin Pie Bars

Chef Julie Harrington, RD - Culinary Nutrition Consultant of chefjulierd.comEverything but the turkey.. Thanksgiving menu via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #thanksgiving #menu #healthyholiday #healthythanksgiving #sidedish #turkey #lowcarb #glutenfree #dairyfree #lowsugar #healthy

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Between the delicious food and spending time with friends and family who we are truly thankful for, it’s hard to beat.
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #mashed #potatoes #cauliflower #lowcarb #sidedish #healthy #thanksgiving #garlicI’m sharing this Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes over on the Healthy Aperture blog today. Plus, I’m chatting about taking away the stress around holiday eating and ways to incorporate balance.

Do you have any holiday cooking questions?

E-mail them to [email protected], Then head on over to Chef Julie RD on Facebook, Wednesday, November 22nd at 10:30 am EST where I will be answering everyone’s questions live!
Chef Julie Harrington, RD - Culinary Nutrition Consultant of

Pin for later!

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #mashed #potatoes #cauliflower #lowcarb #sidedish #healthy #thanksgiving #garlic

Are you team lumpy or smooth mashed potatoes?