This festive, colorful cranberry salsa is a great addition to any party because it can be served as an appetizer, dip, with crackers, or side dish! And it can be made ahead, so it’s great for last-minute hosting.
I love getting together with my family for big festive dinners. At this point, we have 12 – 14 people when we all gather, so we need plenty of food to feed this crowd.
One of our family traditions is to have a variety of appetizers while people arrive and while the cooks are finishing up the dinner preparations.
But in our family, we usually call them “hearty snacks.”
The term hearty snacks started one Christmas several years back, when I was hosting an event, that did not have dinner included. However, I assured my family that I was going to be serving a variety of hearty snacks.
I can’t remember everything I served, except for this cranberry salsa, but as my family was quick to let me know, they thought the term “hearty” was not quite accurate. They loved the salsa, they just didn’t think there were enough snacks.
While I have a large family, they are grown and have their own homes. I usually cook for one! So, my idea of hearty snacks did not meet the needs of my hungry gang!
We still laugh about it.
So, ever since, we call any kind of appetizer a hearty snack. And we make sure to have enough for everyone now.
Related: Love cranberries? Try our Cranberry Fluff Salad recipe too!
This cranberry salsa is one my favorite holiday appetizers because it can do double or even triple duty! It can be an appetizer for dipping, side dish, or sandwich condiment. Or all three like we do!
I love to serve it before a holiday meal with tortilla chips.
Then if you have any leftover, you can serve it with the meal. It goes amazing with Thanksgiving turkey!
Finally, if you have any left, and I hope you do, you can use it on sandwiches. Recently, my son-in-law made the most amazing panini sandwich with this cranberry salsa for Stacey and me. This might be my favorite use now.
Here is Texas, you can buy green and red tortilla chips around this time. I think that looks festive but it will taste amazing with your regular tortilla chips too.
What Does Cranberry Salsa Taste Like?
It’s similar to a cranberry relish, but cranberry salsa packs a little extra heat from the jalapeno peppers! The tangy cranberry and lime flavors are perfectly balanced by the sweetness from the sugar. It’s an excellent companion to salty chips, crackers, or even cream cheese!
Ingredients for Cranberry Salsa
- 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
- 4 green onions, chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- ½ to 1 jalapeño chili (the seeds have the most heat, so I remove them)
- 2 teaspoon ginger root, peeled and chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Grated zest of one lime
- Juice of one lime
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Kitchen Tools Used
Instructions for Cranberry Salsa
This recipe is awesomely easy — all you need is a food processor or blender! I did the chopping in a couple steps to get the right consistency, but overall you’re only looking at 5-10 minutes total time from start to finish.
Place cranberries, green onion, jalapeño, ginger, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Use the pulse button to chop ingredients. You want the pieces to be small but not pulverized — a medium consistency.
I added the cilantro last, so it would be better incorporated. Though you could chop everything all together to save time.
Remove the chopped mix from the food processor and place in a glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add the sugar, zest, and lime juice and stir to incorporate thoroughly.
I think the dip tastes better when the flavors have had a bit of time to mingle, so I recommend that you cover and place in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving.
Makes about 1 ½ cups.
Tips on Using Jalapeño
Jalapeños are hot, but they are one of the most mild of the hot pepper family. They are my favorite of the hot peppers. However, I always remove the seeds, since this is where the most heat is stored.
Also, there can be some variance in how hot a pepper is. For my batch, I only used about ¼ of the pepper. If you prefer more heat, add more of the jalapeño. You could start with a smaller amount and add more if you want more heat.
I don’t recommend substituting a sweet green pepper as this would change the overall taste.
Can You Make this Ahead of Time?
This recipe is great for holidays because you can prepare it a day ahead of time and save time on the actually holiday itself!
To store, keep in an airtight container or a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
Leftovers can stay good in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
What to Serve with Cranberry Salsa
- Serve with tortilla chips as a snack or appetizer.
- Serve over cream cheese with Ritz crackers, Wheat Thins, or tortilla chips.
- Use as a side dish with turkey, pork, or ham.
- Spread on a sandwich for an extra burst of flavor.
Printable Cranberry Salsa Recipe
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- Food processor
- Glass or Stainless steel bowl
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries rinsed
- 4 green onions chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/2 jalepeno stem and seeds removed
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger
- grated zest of 1 lime
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Place cranberries, green onion, cilantro, jalapeño, ginger, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Use the pulse button to chop ingredients. You want the pieces to be small but not pulverized.
- Remove the chopped mix from the food processor and place in a glass or stainless-steel bowl.
- Add the sugar, zest, and lime juice and stir to incorporate thoroughly.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving.
- Makes about 1 ½ cups.
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