Four ingredients, a food processor, and 15 minutes are all you need to make this easy, no-cook Cranberry Apple Relish for Thanksgiving. It's a wonderful combination of sweet-tart flavors and crunchy textures from fresh fruit and pecans.
Inspired by the cran-apple side I grew up with, but without the cup (or more) of white granulated sugar, this recipe is a fresh take on a family favorite. Simply add the ingredients to a food processor, pulse until chopped but still chunky, and it's ready to eat. No saucepan required!
It goes well with other Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes like Stuffed Acorn Squash, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts. Plus it adds a lovely pop of color to your dinner plate and is an interesting twist on the traditional cranberry sauce.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's refined-sugar free and naturally sweetened with fruit.
- It makes 8 servings and can easily be doubled.
- It pairs well with all your favorite holiday dishes and can be made in advance.
- 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.
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Add the cranberries to the food processor.
- Then add the chopped apple and dates. Process, scraping down the sides of the food processor bowl as necessary.
- 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.
- Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for later.
Keep the texture chunky and be careful not to over-process it. For best results, use the pulse function on your food processor.
- Use a sweeter apple such as Fuji, Ambrosia, or Honeycrisp.
- Substitute Medjool date syrup in place of the fresh dates.
- Leave out the pecans or use walnuts in their place.
- Add a little ground cinnamon, grated fresh ginger, or orange zest.
- Stir in other chopped fruit such as oranges or pineapple.
Cover and refrigerate the sauce until you're ready to eat. When preparing for a holiday dinner, you can make this recipe up to 2 days in advance. Any longer than that and the sauce will become too watery.
Yes, cranberries can be eaten raw. But since they are extremely tart and sour, they are more enjoyable mixed with other fruit.
In many cases, yes, such as in baking and in cooked sauces. But for this raw recipe, you'll want to use fresh.
Any firm and tart apple will work in place of the green apple such as Fuji or Braeburn. But you can also use a sweeter variety such as Honeycrisp.
Cranberry sauce is cooked in a saucepan on the stove, usually with sugar. Cranberry relish is made with raw ingredients in a food processor.
More recipes with dates
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If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
Cranberry Apple Relish Sweetened with Dates
- 2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
- 1 Granny Smith apple, (or your favorite variety), roughly chopped
- 4 Medjool dates, roughly chopped
- ½ cup raw pecan pieces
- 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.
- Keep the texture chunky and be careful not to over-process it. For best results, use the pulse function on your food processor.
- Make this relish up to 2 days in advance and cover and refrigerate it until ready to use. If kept longer than that it will become too watery. Stir well before serving.
- For a sweeter sauce, add a few more dates.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.
Made this and the cranberry raspberry sauce for Thanksgiving. Both were a hit!
I used gala apples and had to add more dates as some of the cranberries were a little tart. Easy adjustment without adding sugar. This will be great on green salad with protein too.
Love that idea for adding to a salad!
Delicious!!! You have captured the traditional recipe, but, made it even better!!!
Thank you so much, Theresa!
Very easy to make, but it is very, very tart. I doubled the recipe and used one granny smith Apple and one honey crisp Apple. I added about 3 tablespoons of sugar after tasting how tart it is, still tart which I love, but a little more palatable with a bit of sugar in it. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Melissa! I'm glad you were able to make it work for your taste. If the cranberries are too tart, another think you can do is add more dates.
Can I make it on Sunday for Thanksgiving or will it turn too brown? (i.e. how many is "a few" days?) Thank you-
Hi Liz! I found that it didn't turn brown after that many days, but it did get a little watery. I plan on making it on Tuesday to serve on Thanksgiving.