Looking for a fresh spin on cranberry sauce? Try this fresh cranberry salad. It is made with sweet fruit like apples, mandarin oranges and pineapple to balance the tart flavor of the fresh cranberries. Honey is added for some additional sweetness while pecans give it some crunch. Your family will love this fresh cranberry salad for a Thanksgiving side dish.

Fresh cranberry salad with finely chopped cranberries, apples, mandarin oranges, pineapple, and pecans

A Fresh Thanksgiving Side Dish

Cranberry sauce is one of those Thanksgiving staples that has never actually been a staple in my family.

I can’t really remember ever eating it to be honest.  Especially not the jellied cranberry sauce from the can.

While that speaks tradition to many people, it doesn’t to me.  I do however love a good cranberry salad made with fresh cranberries.

Fresh cranberries have a very distinct bitter taste and definitely don’t taste very good on their own.  My daughter wanted to taste one, and I tried to warn her.  The bright red color fooled her though into thinking it would be sweet.  Boy was she in for a surprise.  She spit that puppy out extremely fast!

This fresh cranberry salad is sweetened with other naturally sweet fruit and honey.  It still has a bit of a tart and bitter bite that cranberries are known for, but it’s hidden in the background instead of front and center.  I like pecans in my salad, an entire cup in fact, but you can leave them out and it’s still a tasty salad.  I personally love the crunch and nutty flavor that they give to add some interest to the salad.  My daughter on the other hand is highly allergic to pecans and other tree nuts, so I leave a small portion without pecans for her to enjoy.

This is perfect to accompany your traditional Thanksgiving dinner, to take to a potluck, or to just enjoy on its own.  It comes together extremely fast if you have a food processor.  Dump everything in, pulse, pulse, pulse, and add some honey.  It doesn’t get much easier than that. If you don’t have a food processor, you will have to finely chop everything by hand and it will take a few minutes longer, but it’s still easy.

Fresh cranberry salad FAQs

  • I’m allergic to pecans. Can I substitute anything?

You could omit them or substitute walnuts, shelled pumpkin seeds, or shelled sunflower seeds for some crunch.

  • Can I make this the day before?

Yes, but I would add the pecans the day of serving so they don’t get soggy.

  • Can I use another sweetener instead of honey?

Yes I’m sure you could use maple syrup or sugar instead to sweeten instead of honey. Keep in mind the sweetness may be different depending on what you use, so you may have to add a little more or less and taste as you go. I would start with 1/4 cup and work my way up.

  • What if I don’t have a food processor?

If you don’t have a food processor, no worries. Use a good knife and chop away. It will take longer to finely dice everything but it will still work.

fresh cranberry salad
5 from 1 vote

Fresh cranberry salad

Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8


  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1 apple
  • 1/2 cup mandarin oranges I used a jarred variety not in syrup or 1 orange
  • 1/3 cup honey warmed to make pourable
  • 1 cup pecans


  1. Cut up pineapple and apple in large chunks and place in food processor.
  2. Add cranberries and pulse several times until evenly chopped.
  3. Add mandarin oranges and pulse a couple more times.
  4. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. Pulse pecans in the food processor to chop them.
  6. Add them to salad.
  7. Pour honey over salad and stir together.
  8. If you don't have a food processor, just chop everything finely by hand and stir together.
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