Cranberry Apple Relish is a family favorite that's simple to make with only 4 ingredients and a food processor. This refined sugar-free sauce has been a staple on my holiday table ever since my mom started making her version of it when I was young. The crunchy fruit and nut condiment is like a taste of fall.
If there's one dish that conjures up fond memories of childhood Thanksgivings for me, it's cranberry apple relish.
I don't recall my mother making cooked cranberry sauce on the stove, but I do remember her serving the jelly-like stuff that comes in a can.
Needless to say, I was not a fan.
But one year my mom started making a fresh relish with cranberries and Granny Smith apples in her favorite kitchen appliance, a state-of-the-art Cuisinart food processor.
And while it seemed like a nutritious addition to the holiday table since the fruit was raw, it was loaded with white sugar.
In fact, I think it had over a cup.
So, of course, I absolutely loved it!
But as an adult with much less of a sweet tooth, I started experimenting with her recipe and came up with this version I'm sharing with you.
It's just as fresh and crunchy, but it's naturally sweetened with dates, inspired by the Mediterranean diet.
How to make Cranberry Apple Relish
This recipe couldn't be easier.
Simply gather your ingredients and add them to your food processor.
Here's what you'll need:
- Fresh cranberries: Choose ones that are firm and scarlet or bright red. If they are light pink or dark purple, they are underripe or overripe, respectively.
- Apple: I like to use a Granny Smith apple for the contrasting green color, but they are rather tart. If you prefer a sweeter apple since the cranberries are already sour, Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Gala are great choices.
- Medjool dates: These "nature's candies" will add sweetness to the relish.
- Pecans: I like to add these nuts for extra crunch. If you don't have pecans, walnuts are another option.
To make the fresh cranberry relish, first process the cranberries, apple, and dates, scraping down the sides of the food processor bowl as necessary.
You'll want to keep the texture chunky, so don't overprocess the sauce. I like to use the pulse function.
Then when the sauce is just about ready, give it a taste and add more dates if you want it sweeter.
At this time, throw in the pecans, then give the relish one last whirl.
Now you can cover and refrigerate the sauce until you're ready to eat.
When preparing for a holiday dinner, I'll make this recipe up to 2 days in advance. Any longer than that and the sauce will become too watery.
The secret to sweetening this fresh Cranberry Apple Relish without refined sugar is Medjool dates.
I absolutely love them!
And I've been known to eat them stuffed with peanut butter and chocolate chips for a treat. They taste like a homemade candy bar!
I always keep a supply of these fresh soft dates in my refrigerator.
They're great as an afternoon pick-me-up. You can learn more about them in the article 9 Incredible Health Benefits of Medjool dates.
I use 4 dates in this recipe, but if you like a sweeter fresh cranberry relish, feel free to add more.
More ways to enjoy fresh cranberries
This recipe uses half a bag of cranberries.
You can either make a second batch of relish with the other half, or freeze the rest for later.
I rinse off the cranberries and place them in a resealable bag before freezing.
Sometimes I'll use the extra frozen ones to make Cranberry Pineapple Smoothies any time of year.
Or check out How to Dry Fresh Cranberries at home.
I've never tried it, but I love this idea.
Cranberry Apple Relish Recipe
This recipe makes about 8 servings, but if you and your family really enjoy cranberry sauce, I suggest doubling the recipe.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars!
Cranberry Apple Relish (Refined Sugar-Free)
- Add the cranberries, apples, and dates to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until the fruit is roughly chopped.
- Add the pecans to the food processor. Pulse a few more times, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Be sure not to over-process. Keep it chunky and crunchy.
- Refrigerate the relish in an air-tight container until ready to serve.