Cranberry Relish

tangy cranberry relish

Every family has it’s own Thanksgiving customs, and one of my family’s traditions comes straight from another family – NPR commentator Susan Stamberg. Every year, Susan tells the story of her mother-in-law’s cranberry relish, and every year, it’s on our Thanksgiving table.


My dad – experimenter of unusual recipes and maker of the relish (and all things Thanksgiving) – started making the relish probably about 30 years ago. Even Susan S. acknowledges it’s a bizarre mix of ingredients. However, the unusual ingredients (and that it’s frozen!) result in a spicy, tangy, sweet, and deeply flavored side dish that holds it own amid the other flavors at the table. Certainly, regular cranberry sauce always has it’s place at our Thanksgiving table (my brother Eric might riot if it didn’t), but this cranberry relish is my favorite.


(FYI I’m very sure that my love of horseradish is partly why I love this cranberry relish so very much)




For accuracy’s sake, I should note that it wasn’t Susan’s mother-in-law that created this recipe – it came from a recipe published in the New York Times in 1959 by Craig Claiborne.


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Cranberry Relish



  • 2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
  • 1 small onion, cut in to chunks
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs horseradish from a jar


  1. Grind the raw berries and onion together in a cuisinart – you’ll want to pulse the berries and onions so that you get a chunky grind, not a puree.
  2. Pour in to a bowl, then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
  3. Place the relish in a plastic container, cover tightly, and freeze.
  4. Several hours before serving, move it from the freezer to the refrigerator to (mostly) thaw. (It should still have some icy slivers left when it’s served.) The relish will be thick, creamy and very pink.

Makes 1 1/2 pints.


  • red horseradish is more mild, though my family uses white (because red is more mild!)
  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge; the relish is delicious with the other leftovers. 




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