This Spicy Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce can be made in under 15 minutes and brings together the tartness of fresh cranberries, the citrusy kick of oranges, and the heat of jalapenos.
Ready for the holidays? Me either. How can it already be mid-December?? But the one good thing I have for you today is this Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce Recipe. It's incredibly easy to pull together if you need a last-minute side and it's a nice departure from the (sometimes too sweet?) regular cranberry sauce that we all know and love. Of course, if you know me you know I love spice and this sauce brings the heat but in a subtle sort of way. Plus, it's fabulous on these Leftover Turkey Cranberry Sliders. (We all know the leftovers are the best part about holiday meals, amiright?)
Why This Recipe Works
This spicy jalapeño cranberry sauce is one of my favorite cranberry recipes to make, not just during the holidays but any time of year. Here's why:
- The sweet and spicy combo. The spicy flavors of the jalapeño peppers plus the tart cranberry sauce strike the perfect balance between sweetness and heat. It's a step up from traditional cranberry sauces (and way better than the canned stuff you'll get from the grocery store.)
- Fresh ingredients. This recipe is bursting with whole cranberries, fresh jalapeños, and orange zest for a delicious fresh cranberry sauce.
- You control the sugar. I love that this recipe lets me dictate how much sugar I have to add. I tend to err on the side of less sugar so this is ideal.
- Easy. This easy homemade cranberry sauce may be the easiest recipe you'll make for your holiday meal.
- Crowd pleaser. Whether you're making this as part of your Thanksgiving dinner, or using the sauce to make a quick holiday dip, everyone loves this delicious recipe.
- Beautiful dish. Have I mentioned yet that this sweet cranberry sauce is a stunner? The bright red berries make this a gorgeous side to serve on your holiday table, next to turkey and pumpkin pie.
- It can also be a dip! Pour this cranberry sauce over a block of cream cheese and you have an easy appetizer for your holiday parties.
You only need five ingredients to make this simple recipe
- Fresh cranberries. We're making whole berry cranberry sauce here so you'll want to use whole fresh cranberries for this dish. You can typically find them in abundance in the produce section sold in bags, especially during the holiday season.
- Jalapeno peppers. I used two for this recipe but if you don't want that much heat, feel free to bring it down to one. Remove the seeds.
- Orange zest & orange juice. The fresh burst of orange flavor adds brightness and a touch of sweetness to this easy side dish that counters the tart berries perfectly.
- Sugar. As I said above, adjust the sugar to your preference. I use about ⅓ cup in this recipe but.
How To Make Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce
- Combine. Combine cranberries, jalapenos, water, orange zest, and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Boil. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring often, until the cranberries split and the sauce thickens (about 10-15 minutes).
- Mash. Mash up the cranberries with a fork or the back of a spoon.
- Cool. Remove from heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature.
- Chill. Transfer to an airtight container and chill, allowing the sauce to continue thickening.
- Serve. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and garnish with a few slices of extra jalapeño peppers.
Variations And Substitutions
Want to mix this up a bit? Here are a few ideas:
- Make it extra spicy! For an extra kick, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or a diced habanero.
- Try different citrus flavors. I love the orange mixed with the cranberries here, but you can experiment with different citrus flavors like fresh lemon juice, lime juice or blood orange for a unique twist.
- Change the texture. Everyone has their idea of the perfect consistency for a classic cranberry sauce. This sauce is a bit smoother, but if you like a chunkier texture, pulse the sauce in a food processor and don't boil it for a super fresh and chunky version.
- Sub in brown sugar for white. Try using brown sugar instead of white for a richer flavor.
- Add some fresh ginger. A little bit of grated ginger would give this sauce a warm and comforting flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Making it a couple of days in advance allows the flavors to meld for an even more delicious experience. (This is also a great way to pre-plan your holiday cooking so that you're not doing everything the day of.)
Of course! You can reduce the number of jalapenos used to dial down the spice level. Or, omit them altogether to make a classic cranberry sauce.
This versatile cranberry sauce complements a variety of dishes, from Thanksgiving turkey to holiday ham. It's also a fantastic addition to cheese platters or as a dip for festive appetizers like cranberry jalapeno poppers.
Store any leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.
It's delicious as a side, but this also works great as a spread on sandwiches (try adding a little bit to these Leftover Turkey and Cranberry Sliders On Hawaiian Rolls). Or, you could use it to make a quick and easy appetizer. Simply get a block of cream cheese, place it in a shallow bowl, then spoon some of the cranberry mixture over the top of the cream cheese. It's a favorite way to use up leftovers and one of the best holiday dips to serve at your holiday dinners or parties.
What To Serve With Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce
There are a surprising number of ways you can use this update on the classic cranberry sauce:
- Try it as a topping for your Christmas turkey or ham.
- Use it as a sauce for cranberry jalapeno meatballs.
- Spread it over a block of cream cheese or a log of goat cheese for a quick and tasty cranberry jalapeno dip.
- Incorporate it into a cranberry jalapeno cream cheese dip for the ultimate party appetizer.
- Use it as a glaze for roasted vegetables or grilled meats.
- Serve it over vanilla ice cream for a sweet and spicy treat!
- Add it to turkey or ham sandwiches for a sweet and spicy kick!
This Sweet And Spicy Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce is the perfect way to add a little heat and a lot of flavor to your holiday gatherings. If you try it, let me know what you think in the comments below. And don't forget to tag me @frontrangefed on Instagram so I can see your masterpiece!
More Easy Holiday Sides
- Air Fryer Sweet Potatoes
- Farro With Blistered Tomatoes And Pesto
- Old Fashioned Scalloped Pineapple Casserole
- Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Casserole
- Roasted Garlic And Cauliflower Mash
- Roasted Fennel Salad With Orange Honey Dressing
- Instant Pot Steamed Broccoli
- Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts
- Creamy Orzo With Rosemary Brown Butter
Sweet And Spicy Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- 10 oz fresh whole cranberries
- 2 jalapeno peppers seeds removed and sliced
- ½ cup water
- 2 teaspoon orange zest
- ½ cup orange juice
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- Combine the whole cranberries, jalapeños, water, orange zest, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring often, until the cranberries have burst and the mixture has thickened (about 10-15 minutes depending on how thick you want your sauce to be.)
- Mash the cranberries into the sauce with a fork or the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and chill. (Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.)
- The sauce will keep for up to 1 week.
- Careful when removing the seeds from the jalapeno peppers! The spice can transfer to your hands and can be painful if you touch your eyes or face. Use gloves and remove the seeds with a small spoon. Wash hands extremely well after handling.
- The cranberries will burst slightly when cooking. You may wish to partially cover your saucepan to prevent splatters.