Cranberry Apple Orange Salad is a perfect cool weather dish. It comes together quickly and the mild dressing freshens up the fruit. The dried cranberries added texture to this salad along with the nuts, making it a great mix of sweet and savory. Ready for another cranberry recipe? I hope so, because this Cranberry Apple Orange Salad with pecans is one that you won’t want to miss! It makes a big, beautiful, and tasty salad.
Best Cranberry Apple Salad
Cranberry Apple Salad is one of two salads that are so much a part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition, it is unthinkable not to serve them. This jewel-tone lovely has been on our holiday table for more than 30 years.
Tart cranberries, crisp fall apples, celery, orange zest and pecans are set in a tangy raspberry gelatin mixture that makes this salad a perfect complement to turkey, ham or roast chicken.
Cranberry Apple Salad not only hits all the best flavor notes, but it’s also bursting with texture. It has the mouthfeel of a chunky relish and all the sweet-tart notes to cut through the creamy, fatty dishes it’s served alongside.
It’s so easy to make and can be made even a day or two ahead. Once you and your family taste it, it will become one of your holiday traditions, too.
- Fresh Cranberries (12 oz.) I grind these dry in my food processor. If you are going to use a blender, put them in the blender pitcher, cover with water and pulse to grind them. Then drain.
- Apples : I use Honey Crisp or Gala
- Celery: It sounds wrong, but trust me. It’s so good!
- Chopped Pecans
- Orange: 1 large one. You’ll use both the zest and the juice
- Raspberry Gelatin: 2 (3 oz. boxes)
How to Make Cranberry Apple Salad
Grind the cranberries. You will want them to be about the size of really coarse sanding sugar, which helps spreads the tartness throughout the salad more evenly.
Peel and small dice the apples. Cut the celery into thin slices.
You can buy the pecans already chopped or chop pecan halves into pieces.
Zest the orange and set it aside. Juice the zested orange and add just enough water to bring the juice to 2 cups.
In a medium (at least 2.5 quarts) bowl, mix the cranberries, apples, celery, pecans and orange zest. Stir to distribute everything evenly.
Heat the juice, sugar and water to boiling. Then add the raspberry gelatin to the hot liquid and stir until the sugar and gelatin are dissolved.
Pour the gelatin mixture over the cranberry apple mixture and stir to coat all the ingredients.
Refrigerate until set. Once it is set, I usually stir the salad to redistribute anything that has floated to the top of the gelatin. There won’t be much, because the gelatin is fairly equal to the amount of other ingredients, but gelatin should be broken up and stirred throughout all the fruit. Cover the salad with a lid or plastic wrap until ready to serve it. You can make it up to two days ahead.
Mama’s Cranberry Salad
I usually eat this with the main portion of my Thanksgiving meal, but as I double the recipe and make it from the time ripe cranberries appear in the stores until they no longer do, it serves very well for dessert too. And for breakfast and for a late-night snack, for that matter. This has been on every holiday table I can remember, and its origins are lost in time—I’m not sure if it was a grandmother’s recipe, or if Mama came up with it—but I can no more imagine Thanksgiving or Christmas without it than I can the one without turkey, and the other without ham!
Mama’s Cranberry Salad
- PREP TIME8 hours
- COOK TIME15 minutes
- SERVES12, unless one of them’s me; in that case, 6
- 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
- 1 large Granny Smith or other tart green apple
- 1 large orange
- 1 large Honey Crisp or other red apple
- 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 large (6-ounce) box raspberry jello
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
In This Recipe
- Zest the orange, peel, and liquefy in the food processor.
- Chop all the other fruit in the food processor, and add to large bowl with orange and zest. Add nuts.
- Bring water and sugar to a boil until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat, let cool just a bit, and whisk in jello. Don’t be hating on the jello here; it’s not really noticeable, but helps things hold together. You could use unflavored gelatin and additional sugar if you wish.
- Pour jello over fruit, give a good stir, and refrigerate overnight.
Easy Cranberry-Orange-Apple-Walnut Relish
Refreshing and palate-pleasing, a bite of Easy Cranberry Orange Apple Walnut Relish is the divine soulmate to a bite of turkey. It’s also the perfect foil to so many of the *heavy* fat-laden dishes, that cause our heavily-laden Thanksgiving tables to groan under the weight thereof.
An additional reason I adore this dish is because my Mommy made it, and “ah hay-elped “! (Shoutout to those old enough to remember that old Shake and Bake commercial.) I remember helping her crank the handle of the food grinder/food mill that was braced around the edge of the table in our basement, and tucking the slices of apple and orange into the feed tube.
How Easy Is This Cranberry Relish?
First of all, all the ingredients are raw. So, clearly, that’s easy.
Secondly, and happily for ALL of us, somebody invented the food processor in between the time when I used to make it with my mom, and now. So this dish takes all of about 30 seconds to prepare, once your ingredients are prepped. So that should tell you how truly EASY it is.
Is Cranberry Relish Really Better than Cranberry Sauce?
This is one of the recipes that nearly always sends at least one of my Thanksgiving guests over the moon to Happy Tongue Heaven.
It’s sweet, tart, fresh, juicy, and crisp. It makes your taste buds stand up, salute, and break into the Hallelujah chorus. With all the carb-heavy, butter-laden dishes we typically serve on our Thanksgiving menus, this dish provides a welcome palate cleanse, in between bites. And none of my guests one can believe how easy it is to make!
Mom didn’t leave me a written copy of it, so I had to go hunting for a recipe that would approximate what I remembered her making, and happily, I found something similar in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
I have altered their recipe somewhat by adding an apple, and reducing the sugar, to suit our taste. This year, I also toasted the walnuts, just to deepen their flavor a bit, and I like that change as well. (350º for about 8 to 10 minutes)
One Important Recipe Note: I make this EARLY in the week of Thanksgiving: usually on Monday. By that time, the vivid red color of the cranberries has penetrated all the apples and the oranges, and dish becomes a VIVID crimson! So it’s prettier than it was when you first made it, and all the flavors have a chance to mingle, and marry.
So here it is, my easy-peasy, amazing cranberry relish. (Dedicated to my dear daughter, my sister-in-law Kim, and my friend Rich, who each would like to have their very own bowl, please.)
The Recipe for Easy Cranberry Orange Apple Walnut Relish
Yield: 12 servings
Easy Cranberry-Orange-Apple-Walnut Relish
Easy Cranberry Orange Apple Walnut Relish is the easiest, quickest recipe you’ll make for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it’s so delicious that it will become a family tradition.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
- 4 cups of cranberries (about 1lb.)
- 2 medium oranges, and their grated zest
- 1 apple (like a Honeycrisp, or a Gala: something sweet and tart and crisp), peeled and sliced
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. toasted, and then chopped walnuts
- With a microplane zester, zest the outer peel off of two oranges. (Use the orange part only, not the bitter white of the pith underneath).
- Then peel and section the oranges. Put cranberries, orange sections, zest, and apple slices into food processor and pulse until mixture is finely chopped, but NOT puréed.
- Add most of sugar and taste, adding more sugar to suit your taste. Stir in walnuts and refrigerate.
- Serve cold.
If you make this the day before (or a few days before), the color will be an even more brilliant red, as the juices of the cranberries work their way into the apple and orange. I usually make this on Monday or Tuesday of Thanksgiving week (but then, I have to keep my daughter out of it all week, till Thursday). Prepare early at your own risk: it may be hard to stay out of it.