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Dharma Kitchen


Spiced Cranberry-Apple Relish

Carrie H

It all started with applesauce. I'd throw in a handful of cranberries when I'd make applesauce when the boys were little. Maybe they were genetically predisposed to the taste, who knows, but this recipe for Spiced Cranberry-Apple Relish is a regular in our family. I've been making in double and triplicate for Thanksgiving for at least a decade. Luckily, I learned early on that the boys like cranberries. No, not raw ones—it takes a tough set of taste buds to take to those—but cooked ones. (And who doesn't like dried cranberries?)

I'm going to give this recipe to you, doubled; the original recipe only called for a couple of tablespoons per serving, which seems sort of bonkers to me. Who eats that little cranberry sauce? Besides, you need to have some left over for turkey sandwiches, right? 

If you've got a crate full of clementines in your house, I'd add the zest of a couple of them (or oranges) to the mix, too—and heck, swap out the apple cider for equal parts orange juice, if you want to play up the quintessential combo of cranberries and oranges. Blood orange juice would be lovely here, too. 

You want apples that are going to hold their shape for the most part, so Granny Smith are ideal, but anything that's firm and/or crisp and/or not terribly sweet will work well here. I have a mix of Stayman, Fuji and Braeburn at the moment from an apple picking venture last month, so I think this year's cranberry relish may be more sauce-like than relish-y. I also have made this and left the skins on. Sshh! Don't tell. 

Spiced Cranberry-Apple Relish, before I realized I FORGOT THE APPLES AND THIS PAN IS TOO SMALL! (See, we all mess up, right?)

Spiced Cranberry-Apple Relish, before I realized I FORGOT THE APPLES AND THIS PAN IS TOO SMALL! (See, we all mess up, right?)



  • About 3 pounds firm tart to sweet-tart apples, such as Granny Smiths or Braeburn, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 T. minced fresh ginger (yes, I like ginger)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4. tsp. ground cloves
  • Zest of one orange or a couple of clementines
  • 24 ounces (2 12-ounce packages) fresh cranberries


In a large, lidded saucepan, combine all ingredients over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the whole mixture is thick. During this time, the cranberries will pop and release their juices; you'll likely have a mix of oozy berries and those that are various levels of intact. The whole process should take about 20-25 minutes or so. Some of the apples may break down a little bit, depending on what kind you use. 

Remove from the heat, cool, and serve. You can also refrigerate this up to three days ahead of time, which is how I like to make it. It's a quick, easy thing to bang out a couple days before Thanksgiving, with no ill effects suffered. I think it tastes better that way.

The finished product: Spiced Cranberry-Apple Relish.

The finished product: Spiced Cranberry-Apple Relish.