Easy No Cook Cranberry Relish

By Sally Cameron on November 25, 2009

holiday dishes, sauces and condiments, thanksgiving, vegan, vegetarian,


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

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 Macy’s 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. Whatever you want to call it.

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.

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.

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.

Print Recipe

Easy No-Cook Cranberry Relish

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.


  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. Add chopped walnuts and orange segments (if using fresh), and gently mix to combine.
  3. Transfer to a glass or crystal bowl to show off the pretty color of the salad.
  4. Spoon or pipe whipped cream on top of the salad around the edges (if using)
  5. 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.

Recipe Notes

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.


Leave a Comment
Sally R | 11/27/2009 at 11:03 pm

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)

Michelle | 12/01/2009 at 1:23 am

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

Kevin | 11/23/2016 at 3:57 am

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!

    Sally Cameron | 11/23/2016 at 12:35 pm

    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!

Hayley McHendry | 11/23/2016 at 5:00 pm

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!

    Sally Cameron | 11/23/2016 at 7:26 pm

    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!

A. Smith | 11/21/2017 at 2:52 am

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

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