Luby’s Cranberry Relish

You can have this cranberry relish at home with our recipe. This cranberry relish has oranges, apples, and fresh cranberries and tastes so good! I got the ingredients straight from Luby’s, but the amounts took several holidays to perfect. They gave me the recipe to feed 200 people!

overhead view of a bowl of homemade Luby's cranberry relish and fresh cranberries

The tart taste of cranberry relish is the perfect contrast to heavy sauces and carbohydrates. That is why it isn’t easy to find a table anywhere in America that doesn’t have at least one version of it come the fourth Thursday in November. But you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to serve up this delicious side dish. It can and should be enjoyed throughout the year, just like it is at Luby’s cafeteria in Texas.

Luby’s no-cook cranberry relish starts with fresh cranberries and then adds apples, oranges, and a touch of sugar to round out the flavor profile. This recipe saves time because it actually improves in flavor when stored in the fridge overnight. Give this simple cranberry orange relish a try, and it will probably become a cherished family recipe.

What is the Difference Between a Cranberry Relish and a Cranberry Sauce?

When it comes to cranberries, some folks prefer sauce, others like relish, but many are confused about the two’s differences. There is a straightforward way to tell them apart: Cranberry sauce is cooked, while cranberry relish is not.

In fact, cranberry sauce is very similar to a jam or jelly as it is cooked on the stovetop with sugar and water until the cranberries start to break down. Sometimes a few spices and other flavorings are thrown into the pot, perhaps even a little pectin to help thicken the sauce. The cooking process and the larger amount of sugar in cranberry sauce recipes produce a sweet dish with just a hint of tartness.

On the other hand, tartness is the overriding flavor of cranberry relish. The fresh uncooked cranberries really come through and can surprise those who are used to eating cranberry sauce. Cranberry relish is definitely more of a ‘grown-up’ side dish; however, many former cranberry sauce fans grow to prefer the relish version over time.

Fancying Up Fresh Cranberry Relish

Although this recipe is perfectly fine the way Luby’s serves it, you may want to think about a few ways to really make it your own when you make it at home. Here are a few suggestions to help get your mind working:

  • Add a cup of chopped pecans, 8 ounces of crushed pineapples, and 2 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • Combine a two cup of chopped walnuts with the cranberry relish before resting in the fridge overnight. Sprinkle more on top before serving.
  • Increase the sweetness naturally by adding 2 cups of dried dates to the relish.
  • A cup of chopped candied ginger adds a little spiciness.

Tips For Making, Enjoying and Storing Fresh Cranberry Relish

  • You can use frozen whole cranberries for this recipe. But first, thaw the cranberries in a colander in the sink before using them in the recipe.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to five days in the fridge. You can freeze in a well-sealed freezer bag for up to a month. Let frozen cranberry orange relish thaw slowly in the fridge.
  • More than a side dish, you can eat cranberry relish in many ways. Try it on top of your waffles or mixed with cream cheese and spread on a bagel. Boost the flavor of your favorite balsamic vinaigrette by adding a few spoonfuls of relish to it.

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Here’s a list of what you need

  • Fresh cranberries
  • Apples
  • Seedless Oranges
  • Sugar
  • Red food coloring
Luby's cranberry relish ingredients

How to Make Cranberry Relish

  1. Insert knife blade into the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Place cranberries in the processor bowl.
  3. Slice and cube apples, removing core and seeds but leaving the peel on.
  4. Zest one orange then peel and section oranges.
  5. Add apple cubes, zest, orange sections, sugar, and food coloring to the food processor bowl.
    cranberry relish with orange and apple in a food processor bowl
  6. Process until all is pureed and blended.
  7. Refrigerate overnight for best results.
a bowl of homemade Luby's cranberry relish and a bowl of cranberries

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bowl of cranberry relish

Luby’s Cafeteria Cranberry Relish

You can make Luby’s Cafeteria Cranberry Relish at home. 
5 from 4 votes
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Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Copycat recipe, Cranberries, Luby’s Recipes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 207kcal


  • 16 ounces whole cranberries
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 apples
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 drops red food coloring


  • Using your food processor, dump cranberries in a container with a puree blade. Slice and cube apple, removing seeds but leaving the peel on. Add into a processor. Wash thoroughly one orange and scrape zest. 
  • Peel both oranges, section and add to mixture. Add sugar and food coloring. Puree until all is blended. Refrigerate overnight for best results. 


Thanks to Pam Hite for sharing this recipe. She suggests that the above is Luby’s original recipe; however, I also add one small can of crushed pineapples, one small bag of coconut and 1 cup chopped pecans. It’s a must-have on our holiday dinner table


Calories: 207kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 124mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin A: 105IU | Vitamin C: 22.4mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 0.2mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. John Fuller

    Your recipe is great and tastes great. This is the way my mother and our family have been making cranberry relish since the early 1950s. I make 2 batches and the second one has
    an ounce of ” Fireball Cinnamon Whisky” and no red dye as the berries we use from Northern
    Ontario are quite red.and we use Ambrosia apples also.

  2. Leone Heinold

    The picture shows large pieces of cranberries but you say to puree? This sounds so very good! I will try this soon.

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