Grated Fennel Relish Recipe

June 12, 2013(updated on May 30, 2024)

This grated fennel relish is one of the easiest canning projects out there and the finished product tastes so darn good. If you like crunchy, tangy, forkable preserves, you should make it!

fennel relish close-up

I am of the opinion that relish is one of the least-loved preserves on the condiment spectrum. I’m not exactly sure why this is the case, since it’s dead easy to make, uses up a ton of produce, and is a team player of an ingredient (with a jar of relish, you can make tartar sauce, salad dressing, or just a nice topping for grilled fish or chicken).

I’m afraid that I haven’t helped the cause of relish much over the years, as I’ve posted just one other recipe in all the years I’ve been writing this site. I think it’s high time to change all that.

two pounds of trimmed fennel

For this debut relish of the summer, I come bearing a recipe for grated fennel relish. Now, I realize that not everyone likes fennel (including my mother, who actively avoids anything in the fennel/anise/licorice family), but I’m a huge fan. I regularly slice it thinly and quickly pickle it and was ready to take the next step and preserve it for a longer length of time.

grated fennel

I used a food processor for the prep on this relish and it made very quick work of the two pounds of fennel bulbs, as well as the two onions that needed to be broken down. You get about 8 cups of grated fennel from the two pounds. You could also use a box grater for this relish, but a food processor makes it so much easier.

8 cups fennel

Once the fennel is grated and the onion is minced (just put it in the bowl with the chopping blade and pulse until it is in bits), you combine all the ingredients in a pot and cook until everything is heated through. There’s no worry about hitting set points (like with jam) or minimizing heat exposure to protect texture (like with pickles). It’s a ridiculously stress-free preserve to make.

finished fennel relish

This recipe made about four pints, which felt like a huge batch after all the tiny batch projects I’ve done lately. But it’s so tangy and perfectly fennel-y, that I’m looking forward to finding all sorts of new ways to use it (I really want to pair it with some grilled bluefish).

Do you have a favorite relish to make with summer produce?

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Easy Homemade Fennel Relish


  • 2 medium fennel bulbs approximately 2 pounds
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds roughly cracked
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 4 pint jars. Place lids in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Shred the fennel in a food processor or on a box grater.
  • Finely mince onion (a food processor is easiest, but you can also do it with a knife).
  • Combine grated fennel, minced onion, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, salt, fennel seeds, red chili flakes, and black pepper in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cook the relish at a boil for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid has reduced some.
  • Add lemon zest, juice, and parsley and stir to combine.
  • Remove relish from the heat and funnel it into prepared jars, leaving approximately 1/4 inch headspace.
  • Bubble jars well. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  • When time is up, remove jars from canner and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.


Recipe adapted from the Fennel Relish recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

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37 thoughts on "Grated Fennel Relish Recipe"

  • Sounds YUM. I am growing fennel this year and will try it. We adore fennel roasted until it is melting soft with balsamic vinegar, most especially as a side to roasted chicken. I wondered about making a relish based on that! Our favorite summer relish is beet and citrus–beautiful in the jar, amazing taste. Just because of that relish, I’m growing three types of beets and will make it with golden beets and try a batch with the bulls-eye beets (hopefully the colors won’t bleed.) Thanks for the amazing recipes! Now all I have to do is hope my garden doesn’t disappoint me. 😀

  • I am with your mother on this one; hate fennel. This recipe does sound intriguing, though. No, I will stick with my sweet Visalia onion relish.

      1. Oops, I left this in the wrong spot – I really meant to encourage Marisa in her relish recipe endeavours. Anyways, I had spare cucumbers last year and made a cucumber relish, which is really, really good. The store bought relishes are not good.

  • Green tomato relish. My mom always made it when I was a kid I think it was her mom’s recipe. Now I have made it the last two or three years. I usually only get about 5 pints out of it so it is like gold in my family. Only certain people get a jar and probably my mom is the only one who gets more than one jar. 😉

  • This relish sounds wonderful. I love fennel and the thought of putting this over fish sounds delicious. I also love making a green tomato relish at the end of the summer. I only have one jar left in my stash so I am guarding it until September rolls back around.

  • OMG One of my favorite crunchy things in one of my favorite condiments? I may have to go out tonight to buy some fennel…

  • I think maybe we all “adopt” a favorite and stick with it. My favorite for several years has been Vidalia Onion Relish. Maybe it’s also because we can’t imagine a lot of uses for relishes, but once you start bringing them out of the refrig, you find there’s so much more you can do with it (ideas for my Vidalia Onion Relish are on my website, I really love fennel and had never used it much except salads. This is a relish I am definitely going to make. thanks!

  • I’m in love with the ingredients list : fennel, a bit of spunk with the red pepper seeds, parsley. You have won me over into trying this recipe, my first relish. Bonus point: my mother-in-law LOVES the whole anise family so I will bring some to her this summer when we go to visit. Thanks!

  • I made a zucchini relish last year that was similar to a regular cucumber hot dog relish (with a little onion, a little red bell pepper) but less sweet. It was good on hot dogs and in egg salad.

  • The problem with relish is that I have no idea what to do with it other than putting it on hot dogs (which we never eat). Recipe books are no help because they don’t offer suggestions of how to use it, just how to make it.

  • My personal favorite relish is a green tomato one that I made a couple of years ago. It is very much like a sweet pickle relish, just better.

    Have found that we use relish just about like using a good chutney. But making relish is easier. And tastes better, depending. Like mixed with some leftover rice.

  • Oh Girl!! I can not WAIT to make this!! I mean literally… I dont think I can wait till the local fennel comes in.. I think Im gonna have to go buy (gasp!) some. I bet its totally heavenly!! I havent been this excited about finding a new relish in years.. 😀

    My very most favorite relish in the whole world is Zucchini Relish that an very dear grandmother (not mine) gave me some 20 years ago… Im not fond of commercial sweet pickle relishes but this one is a winner all the way around.. I usually make enough to last 2 or 3 years so I dont have to do it every year.. but I always have it on hand. I’ll send it to you!!

  • This sounds great for summer. I have not made any special relishes for summer, but the caramelized red onion relish in your book scratched the canning itch this winter – made it several times, and everyone to whom we served it (or gave a jar) loved it. We used it as you suggest with goat cheese; also became a favorite on roast beef or turkey paninis (my son is the panini maker) and on burgers.

  • I’m growing fennel this year, too, but I don’t know much about it. How do you know when its ready? Can you eat the green frilly parts at the top – or how far up do you chop/grate it?

    I grew it last year, and I think I left it in the garden too long, but I harvested several seeds which I love and we use them in sausage, but the bulb part was very tough at that point.

  • Oh my goodness, I love fennel and I will have to try this recipe, soon! Thanks a lot for the inspiration.

  • Yum! I really like fennel but don’t have many ideas of waht to do with it. This one sounds great!

    We eat more relish and chutney than sweet preserves so I’m going to concentrate on those this summer.

  • I really love this relish. It’s great on kielbasa. And tonight, for a snack, I ate it on tortilla chips in place of salsa, and it was tasty that way, too. What a winner!

  • I’m normally not a fan of relish, but this sounds soo good and delicious!! Definitely will be making this very soon!

  • I made this relish last week and just tried it on grilled kielbasa sandwiches, it was sooo good!! I can’t wait to try it on so many more things!

    1. If it is canned, it will be good on the shelf for up to a year. Once the jars are opened, they’ll be good in the fridge for up to a month.

  • Made this yesterday when I harvest too much fennel. 🙂 Found the Apple Cider vinegar too over-powering. Going to make it again with white vinegar and try roasting the onion and fennel before to give it a more mellow flavor.

    1. Remember that once in the jar, the relish will mellow. So if it’s too strong right now, that might not always be the case.

  • Really looking forward to trying this, love fennel! Wondering if I could substitute the dark brown sugar with either honey or coconut palm sugar?

  • Can you suggest a substitute for parsley? Really not a fan but have tons of fennel! Could I leave it out, or sub basil or cilantro?

  • This relish is so good! I have been adding it to my tuna salad and using for homemade tartar sauce. it is transformative!

  • Made it, love it, and from now on my garden will always grow fennel. This relish is good on hot dogs, but it really shines as a sauerkraut substitute on a Reuben sandwich.