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Home » Easy Recipes & Meal Planning » My Mom’s Vintage Easy Cranberry Relish Recipe
Easy Recipes & Meal Planning

My Mom’s Vintage Easy Cranberry Relish Recipe

You know that scene in Ratatouille where Anton Ego takes the bite of the dish that’s been prepared for him, and he is transported in that moment to the happy place of his childhood home, eating the food his mother made?  I had a moment like that yesterday when I prepared my mom’s cranberry relish recipe that I hadn’t made in years.

It was a bittersweet moment, both for my palate and for my emotions — because my mom passed away last spring.  As I put that first spoonful of her cranberry relish recipe in my mouth, I remembered so many wonderful family holidays where it had been on the table.  I remembered helping her make it when I was a child.  I wanted to be able to call her and tell her about how good it still tastes.

My mom's vintage homemade cranberry relish recipe is better than sauce. It's easy and fresh and goes great with everything on the Thanksgiving table. It's so tasty, you can eat it by the spoonful!

Until I got married, I didn’t know that anyone actually LIKED that cranberry gunk from the can.  You know, the product that comes out IN THE SHAPE OF THE CAN, ridges and all, and you actually SLICE IT and put it on a plate??  The Man insists on that stuff, so I buy it and put it on the table.  But throughout my childhood, I barely even registered that it existed — because my mom always made cranberry relish, and that was good enough for us.

This cranberry relish recipe passes all of my tests for greatness: it’s easy-peasy to prepare, it contains no weird ingredients, it’s cheap cheap cheap to make — and it tastes yummy!!  You can put it on your turkey or ham, but you can also eat it by the spoonful, which quite frankly is what I usually do. 🙂

Easy Cranberry Relish Recipe

My mom's vintage homemade cranberry relish recipe is better than sauce. It's easy and fresh and goes great with everything on the Thanksgiving table. It's so tasty, you can eat it by the spoonful!

1 12oz. bag of cranberries

My mom's vintage homemade cranberry relish recipe is better than sauce. It's easy and fresh and goes great with everything on the Thanksgiving table. It's so tasty, you can eat it by the spoonful!5-6 apples, depending on their size — core and cut into wedges, but do not peel.  (I used green apples for taste and color, but any kind will still be great.)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar, more or less to taste

Grind together the cranberries and the apples.  This is the most crucial step — you HAVE TO USE A GRINDER, not a food processor.

For the purposes of this article, and because I hadn’t made it in years, I tried using the food processor at first — because I wanted to make this recipe as easy as possible for everyone.  It didn’t work.  The food processor does not mash out all the lovely juices from the fruit — so all you get is chopped fruit, not relish.

My mom's vintage homemade cranberry relish recipe is better than sauce. It's easy and fresh and goes great with everything on the Thanksgiving table. It's so tasty, you can eat it by the spoonful!
This is chopped fruit. This is NOT what you want.

My mom's vintage homemade cranberry relish recipe is better than sauce. It's easy and fresh and goes great with everything on the Thanksgiving table. It's so tasty, you can eat it by the spoonful!So the grinder is a MUST.  I used my mom’s 35-year-old Kitchen Aid mixer with the grinder attachment.  I remember when I made it with her before she got the mixer, we had a manual grinder; and I had to work the crank for what seemed like forever.  If you don’t have a grinder, go out and buy one somewhere.  It’s worth it for this recipe alone! (OK, I may have exaggerated there. But still.)

Use the larger holes for your grinder plate, if you have a choice — the smaller holes will grind too fine and the resulting product will be the consistency of apple sauce.  This is NOT what we want.  We want relish.

The cranberries can get a little bogged down in the grinder, so don’t put too many in at once, and alternate a handful of cranberries with a wedge or two of apple.

My mom's vintage homemade cranberry relish recipe is better than sauce. It's easy and fresh and goes great with everything on the Thanksgiving table. It's so tasty, you can eat it by the spoonful!
This is mid-grind. See all those lovely juices and bits of fruit? THIS is relish. THIS is what you want.

Once the fruit is all ground, stir in the lemon juice, and then stir in the sugar.  You can add more sugar if you want it to be sweeter, but I like a little bitterness.  That’s what cranberries are all about, is that zang…My mom's vintage homemade cranberry relish recipe is better than sauce. It's easy and fresh and goes great with everything on the Thanksgiving table. It's so tasty, you can eat it by the spoonful!

It gets better the longer it sits.  I put mine in a mason jar in the fridge.  I’ll probably have a little bit every day with my lunch until it is gone.  I might have to make another batch before Christmas, just so we can have some at the table, lol.My mom's vintage homemade cranberry relish recipe is better than sauce. It's easy and fresh and goes great with everything on the Thanksgiving table. It's so tasty, you can eat it by the spoonful!

Another of our favorite holiday recipes is our traditional Christmas morning breakfast.  Check it out here: Easy Christmas Morning Sticky Buns.

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About the author

Ann Karako

Ann has been homeschooling for 18+ years and has graduated four children (one more to go). She believes that EVERY mom can CONFIDENTLY, COMPETENTLY -- and even CONTENTEDLY -- provide the COMPLETE high school education that her teen needs. Ann's website, AnnieandEverything.com, offers information, resources, and virtual hugs to help homeschool moms do just that. Ann has written Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School: A Step-by-Step Manual for Research & Planning, and she founded the popular FB group called It's Not that Hard to Homeschool High School. She and her family, including two dogs and three cats, live in rural Missouri.

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  • I make my Mom’s. Relish exactly as you do except, instead of apple, I use a navel orange. Simply wash it well, seed it and grind away.. is wonderful alone, but try it with cottage cheese. Yummy.

    • Oh, that sounds quite good! I wonder what it would taste like to put just a little orange into my recipe? Hmmm…. thanks for stopping by, Jane! 🙂

  • My mom always had the canned cranberries, which I avoided like the plaque! YUCK! (same with canned spinach). I didn’t eat cranberry relish until a couple years ago when I decided to try it for Thanksgiving (I’m 53!). It was more of a loose preserve than your recipe. Just cranberries and sugar cooked together but I love it. I am definitely going to try your recipe this year. I think the apples and lemon juice sound yummy. I wonder if some walnuts or pecans would be good too? Thanks for sharing.

Hi! I’m glad you’re here!


I’m Ann (aka Annie), a veteran homeschool mom of five who HATES complicated!
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