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Cranberry Jalapeño Salsa is fresh and flavorful, the perfect appetizer for any holiday celebration. This salsa features an irresistible combination of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors.
This salsa is guaranteed to get you into the mood for the holidays just from how festive it looks.
The beautiful deep red of the fresh cranberries and the little bits of green from jalapeños, green onions, and cilantro make it the perfect Christmas dip!
What makes cranberry salsa even better is that it only takes 10 minutes to make and will last several days in your fridge.
But it certainly won’t last for more than one holiday party... it's that good!
Serve with chickpea tortilla chips or crackers for an explosion of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty flavors.
You can also use this recipe to make vegan cranberry crostini, an excellent appetizer during the holiday season. Whipped cream cheese balances the tang of this festive salsa with a subtle sweetness.
Have even more cranberries on hand? Make cranberry apple crisp for an easy and delicious dessert!
You will need these simple ingredients to make fresh cranberry jalapeño salsa:
- Fresh Cranberries provide a tart and slightly sweet flavor characteristic of cranberry salsa. They create a salsa with a crunchy but still juicy texture that melds with all the other flavors.
- Jalapeño adds a slightly spicy kick to the salsa, which you can adjust based on personal preference.
- Green Onions add a subtle savory onion flavor and a visual contrast to the bright cranberries.
- Cilantro contributes a bright, fresh flavor that beautifully complements the tartness of the cranberries. This recipe uses the entire bunch of cilantro, including the stems, because they are tender and flavorful, unlike other herbs.
- If you don’t like cilantro, try flat-leaf parsley or add extra green onions.
- Lime Juice brightens the other flavors and perfectly complements the tanginess of the cranberries.
- Granulated Sugar mellows the tang from the cranberries for a well-balanced and flavorful salsa. You can adjust the amount to your liking.
- Fine Sea Salt enhances the ingredients' natural flavors, making the salsa more savory and helping to balance the sweetness and acidity.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
For the best cranberry jalapeño salsa, use a food processor! This lets you simultaneously chop the cranberries, jalapeño, green onions, and cilantro.
Using the pulse setting of the food processor allows you to chop the salsa to the exact chunky or smoothness you desire. Plus, since all ingredients are contained in the processor, it means less mess than chopping by hand!
How to Make Cranberry Jalapeño Salsa
Here’s a step-by-step guide to making fresh cranberry jalapeño salsa:
Before making your fresh salsa, thoroughly wash and dry the cranberries, jalapeño, cilantro, and green onion. Excess water will cause a liquidy salsa.
Roughly chop the jalapeño, green onion, and cilantro into no larger than 1” pieces. The food processor often has trouble finely processing the cilantro stems, so chop them a bit finer by hand.
Next, add cranberries, chopped jalapeño, green onion, and cilantro to a food processor.
Process the mixture in short 1-second pulses. 40 to 45 pulses is enough to get the cranberries to a relish-like consistency. Scrape down the sides of the salsa halfway through to ensure all the ingredients are incorporated and chopped.
Combine & Refrigerate
Place the salsa in a medium-sized bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, sugar, salt, and lime juice, and mix to incorporate. The sugar will dissolve into the cranberry juices.
Let the salsa chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. The flavors will continue to meld, and the color will deepen.
Add lime zest as a finishing touch, if desired.
Notes & Variations
Adjust the Heat - Depending on your spice tolerance, you can remove or keep the seeds for the jalapeño. I like to keep mine milder, so I left out the seeds. If you want an even spicier salsa, add another jalapeño or opt for a spicier pepper like a serrano.
Adjust the Sweetness - If you’re looking for a tarter salsa, start with ¼ cup and add from there. For an extra sweet dip, use ¾ cup.
Adjust the Texture - For a chunkier salsa, aim for around 30 to 35 pulses. Anything beyond 45 pulses would result in a smoother, almost completely liquid salsa that would be great as a dressing to drizzle over tacos, salads, or ceviche.
Here are some serving ideas for fresh cranberry salsa:
- With Chips - You can’t go wrong with classic chips and salsa. Try making chickpea chips or lightly salted chips to let the flavors of the dip shine. And make sure to get lots of chips because they won't last long with this delicious dip!
- On Crostini - This cranberry jalapeño salsa is the star of any holiday appetizer table, even more so when you make vegan cranberry cream cheese crostini! Start with homemade crostini, layer on whipped vegan cream cheese, and then a dollop of the salsa.
- Cheese Platter - This salsa is the perfect addition to a vegan cheese platter with tofu ricotta cheese, crackers, french bread, sliced apples, grapes, and roasted cashews. Play around with the textures and flavors!
- Over Nachos - Layer cranberry salsa over vegan potato nachos; combining creamy cashew queso with this tangy yet sweet salsa is irresistible. Load the nachos with jackfruit taco meat, black beans, and extra cilantro and jalapeño to complement the salsa.
- On a Bowl - Make a taco bowl or Buddha bowl with lemon quinoa as the base, roasted tofu, black or pinto beans, shredded lettuce, and cranberry jalapeño salsa on top to tie it all together with a burst of flavor.
Make-Ahead Tips & Storage
Cranberry jalapeño salsa just gets better the longer it sits! Store leftover salsa in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 (if it lasts that long!) for the best flavor. The juices from the cranberries tend to pool, so mix the salsa before serving.
To prep the salsa even further in advance, you can individually prepare and store the cranberries and the remaining ingredients. This prevents the cranberries from releasing too much liquid ahead of time.
About 2 hours before you want to serve the salsa, mix all the ingredients, and then refrigerate the salsa.
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Cranberry Jalapeño Salsa
- Food Processor
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1 jalapeño roughly chopped, seeds removed for milder salsa
- 3 green onions green and white parts, roughly chopped
- ½ cup cilantro 1 bunch, leaves and stems
- 2 tablespoons lime juice and zest for garnish
- ½ cup granulated sugar or coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Before making your fresh salsa, thoroughly wash and dry the cranberries, jalapeño, cilantro, and green onion. Excess water will cause a liquid dip.
- Roughly chop the jalapeño, green onion, and cilantro into no larger than 1” pieces. The food processor often has trouble ensuring the cilantro stems are finely processed, so chop them a bit finer.
- Next, add cranberries, chopped jalapeño, green onion, and cilantro to a food processor.
- Process the mixture in short 1-second pulses. 40 to 45 pulses is enough to get the cranberries to a relish-like consistency.
- Scrape down the sides of the salsa halfway through to ensure all the ingredients are incorporated and chopped.
- Place the salsa in a medium-sized bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, sugar, salt, and lime juice, and mix to incorporate. The sugar will dissolve into the cranberry juices.
- Let the salsa chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. The flavors will continue to meld, and the color will deepen.
- Adjust the Heat - Depending on your spice tolerance, you can remove or keep the seeds for the jalapeño. Add another jalapeño (with seeds) or a spicier pepper like a serrano if you want an even spicier salsa.
- Adjust the Sweetness - For a tarter salsa, start with ¼ cup and add from there. For an extra sweet dip, use ¾ cup.
- Adjust the Texture - Aim for around 30 to 35 pulses for a chunkier salsa. Anything beyond 45 pulses will result in a smoother salsa, almost sauce-like.
- Cilantro Alternatives - If you don’t like cilantro, try flat-leaf parsley or add extra green onions.
This recipe has been updated with new pictures and tips. It was adapted from Maggie's recipe that was posted on December 12, 2018.