Cranberries: Thanksgiving’s Crowning Glory


Face it. Turkey’s a wonderfully versatile bird.

But turkey aside, I must say that I’m partial to this Spiced Orange Cranberry Relish recipe. I make it every year.

I love its color, so deep and ruby. I love its sweet-tartness. I love its sugar and spices and everything niceness. I love that this recipe takes practically no time at all to make. But I also love the way I can make it two days before Thanksgiving, and feel smug for having one dish out of the way.

Spare the can. Make cranberries from scratch. Trust me, if you can make oatmeal, you can make these cranberries. Put stuff in a pot and stir. That’s pretty much it.

This year I’ll make it in a pretty mold that I just bought at a thrift store for $1.50.

The cranberry relish won’t care. Either way, it’ll taste like a million bucks.

Spiced Orange Cranberry Relish

1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries (about 3 cups), rinsed
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup orange liqueur (or more orange juice)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds (optional) 

Combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, orange liqueur and spices (including cinnamon stick) in a medium, non-reactive saucepan.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the cranberries pop and the mixture begins to thickened. (This takes about 10 minutes.)

Remove the cranberries from the stove and let cool slightly. Stir in the orange rind (and nuts, if desired). Spoon the mixture into bowl, mold or container with a tight-fitting lid.

Cover and refrigerate until serving time, up to several days. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes about 2 cups.

Editor’s note: This is a best-of column that originally ran November 25, 2008.

Photo source:
Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar Curtis Chipley says:

    I love my cranberry relish recipe too….. it is always so perfectly shiny bright red, and delicious….. I would not be Thanksgiving without it on the table!

  2. Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    Thank you Doni. I’m going to make this next week. I love cranberries; this sounds like a magic mix of spices.

  3. Avatar david kerr says:

    Persimmons are so easy to grow around here. I haven’t tried, but there are recipes for persimmon chutney, supposed to be a good alternative to cranberry relish.

    The birds and racoons got all my persimmons this year, because I didn’t bother to net the tree.

    In past years, I have dried persimmons on the woodstove. Taste like dates to me.