“Fresh” cranberry relish from dried cranberries

Makes about 2 cups of relish, enough for at least 8 people


  • Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 350g dried cranberries
  • 100mL water
  • 1 very tart apple, peeled and cut in to chunks
  • Sugar (to taste)


  1. Wash and drain the dried cranberries to remove any oiliness or residue.
  2. Simmer the cranberries, about 2/3 of the orange juice, and the water for 10-15 minutes until the cranberries have plumped up a little.
  3. Remove from the heat and leave covered for an hour to let the cranberries rehydrate.
  4. Mix the orange zest in to the cranberry mixture, and then pulse it a few times in a food processor to chop it up. Adjust the flavours and consistency as desired, adding a bit more orange juice and/or sugar if preferred.
  5. Add the apple to the food processor and pulse until the apple is chopped to the desired consistency. It’s nice to leave some pea-sized chunks in there so the relish isn’t entirely smooth.
  6. Chill in the refrigerator for at least a few hours before serving. Make the relish a day or so ahead to save time on Thanksgiving and let the flavours come together.


My family’s go-to Thanksgiving cranberry recipe is a fresh cranberry orange relish, see my mom’s notes (mid-right of image). I prefer it to most cooked cranberry sauces. It’s extremely quick to make, takes very few ingredients, requires no cooking, is a beautiful bright-pink colour, and the flavours are light and citrussy. I figure there’s no real need for things like spices and alcohol in a cranberry sauce or relish. There’s generally more than enough of those things in the rest of the Thanksgiving dishes.

Thing is, it’s extremely hard to find fresh or fresh-frozen cranberries outside of the States. I’ve been lucky for the past few years, but this year they were nowhere to be found. I did a little bit of experimenting though using this recipe as a starting point, and the result was a dried cranberry relish that’s just about as good as the real-deal, fresh relish from years past and my childhood.

The key points to remember are that dried cranberries are generally sweetened so they lose a lot of tartness, and they have a softer texture than their fresh counterparts. When making the relish from dried cranberries, it’s important to add sugar carefully and only if necessary since the sweetness will depend upon the dried cranberries’ sugar content (and the cook’s sweet tooth!). Personally, I found it didn’t need any added sugar at all. A tart, green apple works well to balance the flavours and bring back some of the texture of a fresh cranberry relish. You could probably use other fruit such as grapefruit or lemon as well, but I wanted to stick to as few ingredients as possible since that’s part of the beauty of the fresh relish recipe.