Cranberry Salsa

Cranberry Salsa
Cranberry Salsa is versatile enough to be used as as savory or a sweet condiment. photo (c) Robin Grose
    15 mins

Though not a traditional Mexican preparation, this cranberry salsa is definitely a fresh-tasting variation on the (usually tomato-based) everyday chunky table sauce so known and loved in that country. Simultaneously spicy, tart, and sweet, it is delightfully versatile, as well: serve it as an appetizer with totopos (tortilla chips) or thin slices of jicama, as a side sauce to roast pork, turkey, or chicken, or as an eye-opening dressing for a fruit salad.

As with many salsa recipes, all quantities are given here as a general guideline; they can—and should—be successfully tweaked to make a sauce that you and yours will love and claim as your own.

Did you know? Cranberries (called arándanos) were unknown in most of Mexico until relatively recently, which is understandable given that they need a cool climate to grow. A few cranberry- and blueberry-flavored products have hit the supermarket shelves in recent years, but those are still exotic fruits in that market—much like guava and guanábana (soursop) are in cooler climes.

What You'll Need

  •  1 medium-sized onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 fresh jalapeño or serrano chiles (or to taste)
  • 12 ounces / 340 grams (approx. 3 cups) fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

How to Make It

  1. Chop the onion and place it in a strainer. Rinse it for a few seconds under running water. Shake off water and set aside. (This rinsing of the onion is done in order to soften its flavor without sacrificing texture in the finished product; omit this step if you prefer a strongly onion-flavored salsa.)

    Cut the roots off the cilantro. Chop the cilantro, leaves and stems together.

    Cut the stems off the chile peppers. Open them up and remove the seeds and veins if you prefer a milder salsa; leave them if you would like it very spicy. Dice the chile flesh.

  1. Place all the chopped ingredients into a blender or food processor. Add the cranberries, sugar, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Pulse (turning the device on and off rapidly) a few times, until all the ingredients are very finely chopped. Stop before liquefying completely; we want the individual elements to still be identifiable. You will probably need to move the ingredients around in the container with a spoon between pulses in order to get a homogenous blend. Work slowly and patiently to achieve a good salsa texture (and to avoid ending up with a spiritless puree).

  2. Pour your salsa into a glass jar or ceramic serving dish. This can be served immediately, but I always find it tastier after having sat for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld.


    Store your delicious cranberry salsa in the fridge. Take it out and let it sit at room temperature for half an hour or so before serving.