Sweet and Spicy Fresh Cranberry Salsa Recipe

My “famous” (and only) recipe that makes my family treat me like Monica during the candy lady episode of friends


If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that I promised this recipe on Monday and now it’s Tuesday… oops. Thanks for the grace, friends! I have been making this recipe for years and the story behind it is on my Instagram page but it involves a trip to Virginia, a funeral and how my family became so addicted to this salsa that they start asking for it in November.

A few notes about the recipe:

  • I don’t have a food processor and truly, you don’t need one to make this recipe. Honestly, the times that I have used a food processor, I haven’t loved the texture as much. This is a salsa… so, you want it to be a bit chunky! I use a small chopper just like this one and while it takes me a while to make the huge batches, I love this little chopper! You can chop by hand but with cranberries, that can be very time consuming.

  • If you prefer your salsa to be a bit spicy, you can leave some of the seeds in the jalapeños, however my recipe has just that little bit of bite. I leave in maybe 5-8 seeds in an entire batch.

  • I hate onion. I totally despise it. For my salsa, I don’t skip the onion because it does add to the flavor but I all but liquify it before I add it to the rest of the ingredients.

  • You can use fresh or frozen cranberries. Frozen cranberries actually chop up easier!

  • If you’re one of those people who has the gene that makes cilantro taste like soap, I pity you. But yes, you can omit the cilantro.

  • This year, I made my salsa with organic, unrefined, sustainably produced cane sugar, organic apple juice and organic produce. BUT. This is the first time I’ve done that and there was no difference in taste! So by all means, use what you have available to you.



Fills 12 8 oz jars, perfect for gifting or makes a large bowl for parties and serving
You will need a grater or a zester, a large bowl,
a chopper or sharp knives and a lot of patience


  • 4 12 oz bags of cranberries (fresh or frozen)

  • 4 granny smith apples

  • 1 small red onion

  • 1 large red bell pepper

  • 1 cup of granulated white sugar (and possibly more to taste)

  • 1/2 cup of apple juice

  • 2 fresh limes (you’ll need the zest and the juice)

  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro

  • 4 tablespoons of pickled jalapeño peppers (I use these)

  • 1 teaspoon of salt (and possibly more to taste)


  • Wash, peel, core and chop the apples into small, salsa-sized bites.

  • Wash and chop the cranberries.

  • Peel and chop the onion into tiny, fine pieces.

  • Wash and chop the red bell pepper.

  • Combine the apple, cranberries, onion and pepper into a large bowl and stir.

  • Measure out your jalapeño peppers, remove the seeds (leave just a few if you’d prefer the salsa to be a little spicy) and chop them. Then add them to the large bowl with the rest of your fruits and veggies.

  • Zest both limes over the bowl and then squeeze the juices from both limes into the bowl. Stir to combine.

  • Add the apple juice, the sugar and the salt. Stir to combine.

  • Do a taste test! If the bitterness of the cranberries is still prominent, add more sugar in 1/4th cup increments until it tastes sweet.

  • Finally, add the finely chopped cilantro and stir one more time.

  • Let it sit together, refrigerated in the large bowl for at least 2 hours before distributing into jars or serving.


For gifting, Ball Mason Jars are really affordable and I get mine at Target or Walmart in the canning section. I top them with a holiday sticker and tie some ribbon around the lid. EASY PEASY.

For serving, we love this with Tostinos Hint of Lime chips, with Keebler Club Crackers and brie cheese or poured over a block of cream cheese and enjoyed with Triscuits.

This recipe is a modification of a few different ones and inspired by a magazine recipe from many, many years ago which I can no longer find! I cannot take credit for the idea by any means. My aunt Janice gets the credit for introducing this delicious holiday treat to me!