Frankenmuth Cranberry Relish Recipe

cranberry relish close up

A bright and fruity side dish sure to liven up your meal

This Frankenmuth Cranberry Relish recipe really is the perfect way to add some color and pop to any meal. If you’ve been to Frankenmuth, MI and eaten at the Bavarian Inn, you know that the meal is dominated by fried meats. Fried Chicken is what the Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s restaurant are famous for after all. In addition to the fried chicken, we were also served an assortment of sides such as pasta salad, potato salad, coleslaw, and cranberry relish.

The cranberry relish was the one side on the table that I had never seen before. Everyone talks about the Frankenmuth chicken dinner, but no one had mentioned a cranberry relish. Combining cranberries, apples, oranges, and sugar, it was the perfect mix of tart and sweet to accompany a meal of otherwise very savory flavors. Not to mention it adds a very fun pop of color to the meal. So of course I had to replicate this in my Frankenmuth Cranberry Relish recipe.

Visiting Frankenmuth

Recently, we drove out to Frankenmuth to hit the outlet mall and have dinner.  We had a wonderful time walking around the town, and of course having dinner at the Bavarian Inn.  You can read more about our Frankenmuth experience.  If you want to get a full Frankenmuth dinner experience, also try your hand at my Zehnder’s Chicken Recipe and my Bavarian Inn Buttered Noodle Recipe.

the Bavarian inn entrance

Cranberries: Fresh or frozen?

I call for frozen cranberries in my Frankenmuth Cranberry Relish recipe, but what if you can’t find frozen cranberries? The answer is simple: just freeze fresh cranberries! It is important that the cranberries used in this recipe are frozen when they go into the food processor. Being frozen preserves the texture of the berries, and helps you to avoid over-processing. So, if you don’t have frozen cranberries, just stick your fresh cranberries in the freezer for at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible, then continue as usual.

What kind of apple should I use?

The Bavarian Inn’s recipe for cranberry relish does not specify a type of apple to use. I think you could use just about any type of apple to make this recipe and come out with a tasty relish, but I suggest using a tart apple. I used a granny smith apple in my relish and really enjoyed the added tartness. 

A tart granny smith apple might seem like overkill when adding it to already tart cranberries, but keep in mind there is still almost a whole cup of sugar to be added. The ¾ cup of sugar added to the fruit will meter the tartness, so that you’ll still taste it, but it won’t be too tart. It’s really the best of both tart and sweet worlds.

ingreedients for cranberry relish after food processing

Why shouldn’t I peel the orange?

When I made this recipe for the first time, I was also thrown off by the recommendation to leave the orange peel intact before food processing. It would be so easy to peel the orange and then process it. But, as easy as it would be to peel, there are a few important reasons to leave the orange peel intact.

  • Scent: The orange peel carries a delightful scent of orange which transfers wonderfully into this Frankenmuth Cranberry Relish. This is the same reason so many cocktails call for a twist of orange peel as garnish.
  • Appearance: The intact bits of orange peel add a strong pop of orange to this relish.
  • Flavor: If you peeled the orange before processing, you could easily end up with pulpy orange juice instead of orange chunks. The peel holds the orange together better while processing, leading to distinct chunks in the finished relish.

So trust me on this one, and don’t peel your orange.

Creative Ideas for Cranberry Relish

  • Spread on a meat sandwich: This tart relish obviously goes well with the fried meats served in Frankenmuth, and so you can expect it to go well on a chicken or steak sandwich.  The relish adds moisture and zesty notes to the sandwich.
  • Serve at thanksgiving:  The Bavarian Inn does a Thanksgiving spread every year, and you can bet the cranberry relish is heavily featured.  I plan to serve it at my next thanksgiving.
  • Serve on a cheese platter:  This sweet and zesty relish would go perfectly with a plate of cheese and crackers.  Charcuterie plates often come with a sweet jam to go with strong cheeses, and this relish would fit right in.

How to make Frankenmuth Cranberry Relish Recipe

cranberry relish in a mixing bowl with spoon

Frankenmuth Cranberry Relish Recipe

Frankenmuth Cranberry Relish is a bright and fruity relish. It is the perfect accompaniment to any hearty dinner.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine European, German
Servings 8
Calories 110 kcal


  • 8 oz Frozen cranberries
  • 1 Orange quartered, peel on
  • 1 Apple quartered, tart like Granny Smith
  • 3/4 cup Granulated sugar


  • Pour the frozen strawberries into the bowl of a food processor and process until very finely chopped. Remove to a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Add the quartered apple to the bowl of the food processor and process until very finely chopped. Scoop into the medium sized mixing bowl with the cranberries.
  • Add the quartered orange to the bowl of the food process and process until very finely chopped. Scoop into the same bowl with the cranberries and apple.
  • Add the sugar to the mixing bowl and stir with a spatula to combine. Taste the relish and add up to an additional ¼ cup of sugar if desired.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight, and serve cold.


Calories: 110kcalCarbohydrates: 23.8gProtein: 0.2gFat: 0.1gPotassium: 222mgSugar: 17.1gCalcium: 21mgIron: 1mg
Keyword cranberry, Cranberry Relish, Frankenmuth, Frankenmuth Cranberry Relish, relish
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Nutrition Facts
Frankenmuth Cranberry Relish Recipe
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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