This cranberry orange relish is so good you will never want to buy store-bought cranberry sauce ever again. It only takes 5 minutes to make and one day to marinate, and no cooking is required! Simplify cooking on Thanksgiving day and make this up to 5 days before the big meal.
Oh man, this recipe is good! By far, this is one of my favorite cranberry sauce recipes ever! After years of making my cranberry sauce on the stove, I have now been forever converted to making FRESH cranberry relish!
It's easier and faster than making it on the stove, PLUS you can make it up to a week in advance, which saves you the headache of rushing to get everything done in time on Thanksgiving or Christmas day.
Make sure to make enough for leftovers; you're going to want to make my grilled turkey + cranberry sandwich with crispy sage and buttered pecans with those turkey leftovers!
Ingredients You'll Need
- Fresh cranberries add tartness and are the base of the relish.
- Mandarin oranges: 2 small mandarin oranges or cuties. You will use the whole thing—rind, pith, and all! Adds a wonderful orange flavor. The pith in the orange will make the relish bitter for the first day, which is why it is KEY to marinate this for at least one day before serving.
- Sugar: plain white sugar adds sweetness to balance out the tart cranberries and the bitter oranges.
- Vanilla extract adds a subtle vanilla flavor to the relish and balances out the tart and bitter flavors. Substitute with an equal amount of vanilla bean or vanilla paste.
- Salt: Just a touch seasons the relish and brings out the natural flavor of all the ingredients.
- Black pepper adds a subtle heat to the relish. Use fresh, cracked pepper for the best flavor
- Star Anise: This adds that little something special to this relish and has the flavor profile of warm baking spices. You can find star anise in the international food aisle of the grocery store in the bagged herb section. It is optional, but I highly recommend it!
INGREDIENT TIP: If you have access to pink peppercorns, add 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pink peppercorns to the relish in place of the black pepper. It's AMAZING!
- Food processor
- Air-tight container for storing
How to Make Cranberry Orange Relish
- Wash, dry, and chop mandarins into chunks. Add cranberries and oranges to a food processor
- Pulse 2-3 times until roughly chopped.
- Add sugar, vanilla, salt, and pepper.
- Pulse until all ingredients are well combined and the cranberries are minced.
- Put the relish in an airtight container and stir in the star anise (whole).
- Allow to sit 1-2 days in the refrigerator before serving. Remove the star anise before serving.
Tips and Tricks
Make this 1-2 days before serving so that the bitterness mellows.
If you are making this at the last minute and need to serve it right away, grate 1 tablespoon of orange zest and peel the mandarins. Use only the flesh and the zest to prevent any bitterness from developing in the relish.
- Serve with turkey or ham for a wonderful holiday side dish. Make some sheet pan Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and stuffing too!
- Use as a relish on sandwiches
- Serve on a charcuterie or cheese board
- Serve with warm brie and toasty sourdough
Freezing and Storage
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
It freezes well for up to 6 months. Just defrost and enjoy.
More Holiday Recipes You'll Enjoy
Make Ahead Cranberry Orange Relish
- 1 12 oz bag Fresh Cranberries
- 2 Small Mandarin Oranges Whole
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ⅛ teaspoon Black Pepper fresh ground
- 2 Pieces Star Anise
- Wash, dry, and chop mandarins into chunks. Add cranberries and oranges to a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times until roughly chopped.
- Add sugar, vanilla, salt, and pepper. Pulse until all ingredients are well combined and the cranberries are minced.
- Put the relish in an airtight container and stir in the star anise (whole). Allow to sit 1-2 days in the refrigerator before serving. (See notes below if you need to serve the same day.)Remove the star anise before serving.