Easy No Cook Cranberry Sauce

By Sally Cameron on November 25, 2009

Holiday Dishes, Sauces and Condiments, Thanksgiving, Vegan, Vegetarian

No cook cranberry sauce has been a tradition in my family for decades Add this easy, sweet-tart ruby relish to your Thanksgiving table. Even someone who doesn’t cook can make this recipe!

no cook cranberry relish | Afoodcentriclife.com

No Cook Cranberry Sauce – A Family Tradition

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday to cook for. Get the coffee going early, ease into a day of cooking and and turn on the Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love tradition. Puttering all day in the kitchen preparing to delight everyone with a feast to come is a joy.

My family had a strict tradition with our Thanksgiving menu and woe to you if wanted to mess with it.  You risked excommunication from the family. The tradition was roast turkey with dressing and gravy, mashed potatoes, green vegetable (yes, the ever present green bean casserole), creamed pearl onions and ruby colored cranberry “salad”, really a cranberry sauce or relish.

Mom & Aunt Rose’s Cranberry “Salad”

Although I have fooled around with my Thanksgiving menu a bit over the years, it’s still a close variation to what my mom and my Aunt Rose used to do. I’ve long passed on doing green bean casserole but I always make the cranberry salad. Mom called it a salad, not a sauce. Digging through my mom’s old metal recipe box I came across the original recipe card. It was from my Aunt Rose. She called it Cranberry Relish. There are no directions, just a simple, short list of ingredients and a note to top with whipped cream. One warning, this recipe is very high in sugar, so of you want a lower sugar alternative, try my cranberry pomegranate relish. It’s great.

No Cooking Involved

The best part about this salad or relish is that there is no cooking involved. Just draining and mixing. Even a person with no cooking skills can do this one! It’s simply whole berry cranberry sauce, oranges, pineapple and walnuts. Mom always used fresh oranges. I often use canned Mandarins. She always topped it with freshly whipped cream flavored with a little sugar and vanilla (Chantilly Cream). I usually leave off the whipped cream (lower fat and calories), but you choose. Serve it in a glass or crystal bowl. The jewel-like colors are beautiful on the table.

If you are looking for something fresh and easy, I hope you’ll try this family tradition from my home to yours. I’ve been making it for as long as I can remember. Please let me know how you like it. If you are not big on turkey, it goes great with roast pork, ham and roast chicken.

One last note – save the juice that drains from the fruit. It tastes wonderful mixed with a little ginger ale or club soda for the kids. That was a treat I always looked forward. These days I’d rather mix it with Champagne or sparkling white wine for a sort of Thanksgiving Kir Royale.

no cook cranberry relish | Afoodcentriclife.com
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Easy No-Cook Cranberry Sauce

No cooking makes this simple enough for anyone to make. Just drain, mix and embellish if you desire. It never fails to delight. Thanks to my Mom and Aunt Rose.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword Cranberry, salad, Sauce, Thanksgiving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8


  • 2-16 oz cans Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
  • 1-20 oz can pineapple chunks in water pieces cut in half
  • 2-3 oranges or use a small can of mandarin oranges in water, drained, peeled, sectioned, and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts toast them if you’d like for more flavor
  • 3/4 cup sweetened whipped cream optional


  • Set a large strainer or colander into a deep bowl. Pour cranberries, pineapple and mandarin oranges (if using canned) into the strainer and drain for three to four hours, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.
  • Add chopped walnuts and orange segments (if using fresh), and gently mix to combine. Transfer to a glass or crystal bowl to show off the pretty color of the salad. Spoon or pipe whipped cream on top of the salad around the edges (if using)


The salad will hold in the refrigerator, covered, for 2 days so you can make it ahead. Don’t do the whipped cream garnish until serving time (if using). Serve chilled or more towards room temperature if you prefer.
To whip the cream - Using a hand mixer or an immersion blender with whisk attachment, beat cold heavy cream with a 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1-2 teaspoons sugar, honey, agave syrup or vanilla liquid stevia drops until soft peaks form. Dollop mounds of the whipped cream around the edge of the cranberry salad.
  1. Sally R - November 27th, 2009

    Hey Sally,

    My dad (Tag) just sent me your blog- I love it! I too love to cook and photography is a hobby that I’m working on getting better at. I really enjoy a blog with amazing food photogrpahy, like yours. Looking forward to seeing more…

    by the way-nice name! :o)

  2. Michelle - December 1st, 2009

    Hi Sal – now this is one that looks easy, even for me! I would like to print it and save it for Christmas. Is there an easy way to print recipes or parts of your blog that you are aware of?

    Thanks for the diversity and lovely photos, I feel like I can taste it from the photo.

    Cheers, Michelle K

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  5. Kevin - November 23rd, 2016

    Hello Sally, I thought I invented this cranberry salad. Apparently not since Mom and Aunt Rose have been serving for years. A success and gone every time I make it!

  6. Sally Cameron - November 23rd, 2016

    Hi Kevin. Funny how that works with traditional foods isn’t it? What is fun is tweaking the recipe to try new things. Then again why mess with success and it is just once or twice a year. I now do another version that is lower in sugar (and better for the diabetic family member). Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Hayley McHendry - November 23rd, 2016

    I make cranberry relish every year for Thanksgiving. We just moved and I can’t find my book of recipes and could not remember how much walnuts to put in. I searched and thankfully found this recipe! I had never thought to toast the walnuts before, and I will now make it no other way! So good! Thank you!

  8. Sally Cameron - November 23rd, 2016

    Yay! Good for you Hayley. Glad the recipes helped. Happy moving and Happy Thanksgiving. May you all have a blessed day and delicious feast! Hope you find your book!

  9. A. Smith - November 21st, 2017

    My father and I are allergic to pineapple, is there another fruit alternative you would recommend?

  10. Or persimmon? Sally Cameron - November 21st, 2017

    You could just skip it, or try my other recipe that doesn’t have pineapple, the Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce. Its a little different, but no pineapple. Mango comes to mind but not sure how it would work. Or persimmon? https://afoodcentriclife.com/cranberry-pomegranate-sauce-reduced-sugar/

  11. Harriet - December 5th, 2019

    My mother made a similar recipe she called Cranberry Jello Mold. Using the same ingredients but with Jello making it into a mold. Phyllis was know for it and make it at every holiday. Truth be told, your Cranberry Relish (that’s the name I’m going with) is so much better. My thanksgiving guest loved it. And the bonus is the drained fruit with I froze in ice cube trays and later had with sparkling water, delish! Thanks for sharing.

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