This no-cook cranberry salsa recipe combines loads of fresh cranberries with spicy jalapeno peppers and a few other ingredients for a quick and easy holiday salsa. Bring on the chips!
It's cranberry season, my friends. Cooler weather brings on the cranberries, so that means all sorts of cranberry recipes, from cranberry sauce to cranberry desserts to cranberry cocktails to basically an explosion of cranberries.
Not a bad thing, really! Usually we all get to cook with frozen cranberries or some sort of concentrate, but cooking with fresh cranberries is a treat. They're big on flavor and so much better when they're fresh. For me, one of the best recipes to make with cranberries is Fresh Cranberry Salsa.
Fresh cranberry salsa is a holiday season must. It's easy to make and it goes quickly at every holiday party. Just set it out in a bowl with some chips nearby and watch it disappear.
Fresh Cranberries and Jalapeno Peppers
The key ingredients to any cranberry salsa are fresh cranberries, of course, but also fresh jalapeno peppers. You CAN make this recipe without jalapeno peppers (or chili peppers of any kind), but the peppers really bring a touch of spiciness and flavor that you can't get anywhere else.
In my opinion, cranberry salsa just isn't cranberry salsa without jalapeno peppers.
There are 2 different ways to make the salsa - fresh salsa or cooked salsa. The fresh requires no cooking and is much chunkier than the cooked version, which is cooked down then blended. The cooked version is much more like the consistency of a salsa roja or salsa ranchera, only with cranberries.
You can see both versions below. The fresh is on bottom and the cooked, blended version is on top.
This is my fresh version, and I hope you enjoy it. It's just a touch spicy because that's how I love it, but you can easily dial back on the jalapeno peppers for a milder version.
Alright! Let's talk about how to make Fresh Cranberry Salsa, shall we?
Cranberry Salsa Ingredients
- Fresh Cranberries. You can usually find them in the grocery store seasonally.
- Jalapeno Peppers. Finely chopped.
- Shallot. Minced.
- Green Onion. Chopped. Red onion is good, too.
- Cilantro. Chopped.
- Fresh Mint. Chopped.
- Apple Cider Vinegar.
- Lime Juice. And some lime zest.
- Black Pepper.
How to Make Cranberry Salsa - the Recipe Method
First, rinse the cranberries then set the cranberries in a food processor. Pulse a few times to finely chop them. Do not overprocess. If you don't have a food processor or blender, just finely chop everything.
Transfer the chopped cranberries to a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients (jalapeno, cilantro, shallot, green onion, mint, sugar, vinegar, honey, lime juice and zest, and salt and pepper).
Mix well. Seal and refrigerate at least 1 hour to let the flavors mingle. It’s even better the next day.
BOOM! Super easy! No cooking required. All it takes is a bit of processing or chopping, however you want to prepare it. As I said, just set it out on the table with a bowl of tortilla chips and watch it disappear.
People at your holiday party will sidle up to you in wonder - How did you make this amazing salsa?
Let them love you.
That's it, my friends! I hope you enjoy my fresh cranberry salsa! Let me know if you make it! It's the perfect holiday appetizer.
I call this “cranberry pico”. It’s very similar to pico de gallo in consistency, with lots of flavor. It really is great on chips. I can't decide if I like this version better or the cooked cranberry salsa that Mike makes, so I'll just enjoy them both. Yum for me!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Flavor Additions. Other ingredients that pair nicely with cranberries include fresh ginger, apple, pear, mint, orange, and cinnamon. Try adding some of these to your fresh salsa to experiment with flavors.
- Cream Cheese. One of my readers said they make this recipe and mix it with softened cream cheese or mascarpone cheese. It's a heavenly way to serve it! Grab a block of cream cheese, or just serve it with cream cheese and crackers.
- The Peppers. I'm using jalapeno peppers, which are my favorite peppers for this recipe. They have a nice level of heat for most people and I love the flavor. If you're looking for a milder version, either core out the jalapenos before using them, or use bell peppers instead for a no-heat version. If you'd like a spicier version, bring in a serrano pepper, or several, or use spicier peppers, like a habanero pepper. Did I hear somebody say ghost pepper? Yes!
- Cooked Cranberry Salsa. If you'd like to make the cooked version instead of the fresh version, it is very simple. Simply transfer the finished fresh salsa to a large pan and add 1 cup apple cider vinegar. Simmer for 10 minutes to soften up the ingredients, then process until smooth. Seal and refrigerate at least 1 hour to let the flavors mingle.
Storage & Leftovers
Storing your Fresh Cranberry Salsa in an airtight container in the fridge may allow you to store the leftovers for up to 1 week (up to 2-3 months in the freezer). To maximize the storage life, make sure to refrigerate the salsa promptly.
Try Some of My Other Popular Salsa Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Fresh Cranberry Salsa Recipe
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 3 jalapeno peppers finely chopped
- 1 shallot minced
- ¼ cup green onion chopped
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Juice from 1 small lime + some lime zest
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Rinse the cranberries then transfer them to a food processor. Pulse a few times to finely chop them. Do not overprocess.
- Transfer the chopped cranberries to a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients (jalapeno, shallot, green onion, cilantro, mint, sugar, vinegar, honey, lime juice and zest, and salt and pepper).
- Mix well. Seal and refrigerate at least 1 hour to let the flavors mingle. It’s even better the next day.