Cranberry Relish or Cranberry Sauce which is it? And how are they defined? Hell if I knew.. hahaha..

You see my Mom’s husband Ken likes Cranberry relish and I always thought it was cranberry sauce that he liked because admittedly, I didn’t know that there was a difference.

I thought they all looked like this pretty red, sort of liquid berry sauce on the Thanksgiving table.

So each year, I find myself calling him and asking him which one he likes and trying to make some version that makes his face smile. He says , I am sure like he does every year – “relish, not the stuff in the can.” So, off I go in search of a recipe.

This year, I think I might have found a crowd pleasing recipe! And I am proud to say that I created it myself from looking at a few recipes.

So what were the ingredients?

  • Bag of cranberries
  •  Orange – fairly good size
  • Green apple, I used a Crispin that I had left over from my many apples I picked in September.
  •  1/2 cup of sugar –
  •  1 cup of water
  • and my little ingredient that I love – vanilla- about 2 tsp. I know.. I just started with one and then tasted it and put more in.. so I think it’s 2 tsp. I would do the same if I were you.. start with one and then see.

* please note, the fresher the ingredients the better and the vanilla I use is here:


Use a ceramic dutch over pot that can be used on the stove top.

I used one I had purchased from Rachel Ray’s collection long ago and it doesn’t look like it’s available any more, so I looked to see what she has currently:

You can see mine is a lime green color in the photo. I love it! I can use it on the stove top or in the oven! And bonus- it’s safe from a health perspective.

I put half of the bag of cranberries in the pot along with the water and sugar. Then I cut up the orange and took it off the skin/peel. I put the slices in the pot and squeezed the remaining juice into the pot. I cut up the apple into chunks with the skin on and threw that in the pot too.

Bring this to a boil and then reduce heat to medium/low.

Simmer until the liquid looks syrupy. Fyi.. the cranberries will burst and pop. So be careful and don’t do what I did and put your face over it to smell it and you end up with hot cranberry on your face!

This process takes about ohh.. 20 or so minutes.

I tasted along the way and knew it needed something. That’s when I added some vanilla. A little at first and then I tasted again, and added more. I said 2tsp. above because really, I am guessing.. what I did and use whatever is to your liking and taste buds.

But I am here to tell you that I love what the vanilla did for the flavor. Just don’t add too much. You really want to enhance the cranberries, orange and apple.

I don’t believe in overpowering food with too much spice or herbs, I believe they are like clothing accessories – they are meant to enhance and compliment.  Unless you want to showcase that herb or spice then that’s something different.

I digress.

After 20 minutes or so, take it off the heat and let it cool. I put mine in a glass container (because glass is better for your health than plastic) and put it in the fridge until we were ready for dinner. This was made in the early morning, the day of Thanksgiving but you can make it a day ahead to safe yourself some time.

I do hope you like this as much as my family and friends did.

Cranberry Relish, Cranberry Sauce, which is it? This is my version and I hope you try it out!

Ken did end up liking it – winner , but then he told me to make the “real relish” next year – which I found out is really just the raw cranberries, apples, oranges mixed up in a food processor and served that way. Kind of sounds a little boring to me. But, that is what is great about food – it can be made to appeal to any one’s taste buds!

Give me some feedback in the comments if you tried it out! Would love to hear from you.