Cranberry Salsa

This cranberry salsa will make you feel like a celebrity. At least it did for Brian. He brought it to several events last week and every time, he returned with accounts of people mobbing him for the recipe, weeping at the fear he wouldn’t share it and kissing his feet when he did (accounts may have been ever so slightly dramatized).

It is probably the yummiest, simplest thing you can make this holiday season eliciting the same type of reaction that might happen if you made a life sized Santa caricature out of cheesecake and chocolate (can we all commit to each other just not to go there, ever?).

People go crazy over this stuff. And it couldn’t be easier: toss everything in a blender or food processor and chop choppity chop.

You could also get wild and crazy and serve it at Thanksgiving instead of a more traditional cranberry sauce. Don’t let the fresh cranberry season get away from you without making this. I won’t tell if you decide to make it and keep it all to yourself.

Cranberry Salsa

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Three Years Ago: Top 10 Recipes for Turkey Leftovers!

Yummy Fresh Cranberry Salsa

Yield: Makes about 4 cups of salsa

Yummy Fresh Cranberry Salsa

If your blender or food processor is on the small side and doesn't chop up large batches of ingredients very well, consider chopping the ingredients separately or in batches and then combining in a bowl.


  • 1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 large red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup no-sugar added applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (use the seeds if you want more heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined (and it is the texture you want).
  2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to give the flavors a chance to meld. It can be made and refrigerated for up to a week or longer.
  3. Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly (and recipes combined) from a recipe my Aunt Marilyn sent me as well as one sent to me by Kristin R. several years ago

56 Responses to Yummy Fresh Cranberry Salsa

  1. Anne says:

    Brought this salsa to a Swedish Glogg Christmas party
    in Bedminster, NJ last night. Not a drop left and there was a lot of food.
    Received many compliments. Thx for sharing!! Happy Holidays!!

  2. britney says:

    made this a million times. LOVE it

  3. Allyn says:

    Hi Mel-
    By “red pepper” do you mean a red bell pepper??
    Can’t wait to try!

  4. Robin says:

    I have some frozen cranberries in the freezer. Do you think this recipe would work if i thawed the cranberries out and used them?

    • Mel says:

      I think it stands a decent chance of working as long as you try to rid the cranberries of excess moisture.

      • Robin says:

        The cranberry salsa worked out well with the thawed cranberries and this recipe is delicious. It is nice to have a salsa variation and something new to do with cranberries.

  5. TAmberson says:

    Our daughter made this last night to go with taco salads. I layered spinach, taco meat mix and a few crushed chips and used the cranberry salsa instead of dressing and it was sooooo good that it has earned a place in our regular rotation! Btw…we didn’t have a jalapeño or the applesauce on hand so made it without and it was just wonderful anyway! Thank you! Your site is now on my radar!

  6. Makarios says:

    We never get fresh cranberries this far south. The come in as kinda semi-dried state, almost soft, looking like unmade beds. How would you go about turning them into this gorgeous salsa? Soak them in hot water for an hour? Or just go ahead with the recipe and forget they’re not fresh?

    • Mel says:

      Honestly, I’m not sure this recipe will work out with dried cranberries. If you want to try it, I’d probably suggest the soaking method but again, not sure how the consistency and flavors would play out. Good luck!

  7. Ida Ewing says:

    Just wanted to chime in – this was delicious!! Made it for a party last night and served it over softened cream cheese with crackers. A couple of additions I added: some finely chopped orange peel and a few drops of wild orange and lime essential oils. Turned out fantastic!!

  8. SBakes says:

    I made this for a recent holiday gathering. I honestly didn’t expect most people to like it – my husband’s family aren’t the most adventurous eaters and they certainly aren’t interested in healthy options. Boy, was I wrong! This was the talk of the party. Even my vegetable- hating BIL couldn’t stop raving about it. So easy and pretty, too. I’ll definitely be making this again. For the reader who doesn’t like cilantro – it is a prominent flavor but you could certainly reduce it. It adds a nice punch of flavor. I am sure if you asked my husband’s family if they like cilantro, they would say no. However, they gobbled it up in this. 🙂

  9. Adrienne says:

    Has anyone tried this recipe subbing in parsley for cilantro?
    I love cilantro but most others in my family do not and am wondering if the parsley will still give it that ‘fresh’ element without the ‘soapy’ taste that apparently cilantro has…?

  10. Carolyn Pierce says:

    I Love you Mel! Reading your recipe commentary makes me smile

  11. Nancy Murphy says:

    Mel…made this over Thanksgiving holiday and it was AMAZING!!! Everyone loved it! Thank you so much! Can’t wait to make it again!!

  12. Janice says:

    I made this to take as an appetizer for Thanksgiving. It was wonderful and everyone loved it!! I am making it again tonight for our ladies monthly craft get together tomorrow. I’m sure it will be a big hit. Thanks for a great new and different salsa recipe!

  13. Jessica Glover says:

    OMG! We made this over Thanksgiving but it will be a staple in our fridge from now on! It is the best salsa I have ever had!!

  14. Deanna says:

    I have made this since you first posted it. I buy a bag of cranberries at costsco every time i go there from when they first get them in to when they are all gone. I make it using peppers & cilantro from our garden and freeze it so we have it on hand all year. I have even been known to gift it.
    Thanks for this great recipe that has become a staple for us!

  15. mia says:

    Sorry (dumb phone) meant to say those that POST IT

  16. mia says:

    I always skim the comments to see if anyone else had tried these things with honey and wanted to say thank you! To those that part if so I don’t have to wonder. Yum! Here’s to urinary tract health (and deliciousness).

  17. Kathy says:

    We like to try a new recipe every year for Thanksgiving, just to shake up the traditionalists a little! This year I made the cranberry salsa and everyone loved it! I plan to use it liberally throughout December, as long as I can get fresh cranberries. Thanks!!

  18. Ken says:

    Made this and LOVED it. Would love to give it as a gift. Do you think it could be canned? Alternau, since it makes more than 2 of us can handle at a time, do you think it would freeze well?

    • Mel says:

      You’d have to consult a canning expert on that one – my inclination is to say no but that’s just because canning safely is a delicate balance of enough acidity for water bath canning otherwise it needs to be pressure canned. Try googling “canning cranberry salsa recipes” and see what turns up. And yes, I do think it would freeze well.

  19. Jenna says:

    Brought this to the in-laws’ for Thanksgiving and we couldn’t stop snacking on it! We ate it with tortilla chips but my mother-in-law tried it on quite a few different crackers and even some veggies! I only have a mini food-processor so I just diced everything by hand. The only thing I did process was the cranberries, in batches. I did not add the jalapeno seeds but I kinda wish I had; a little “kick” would have made it even better. I used bottled lime juice and I reduced the onion by about half, and that was perfect for us. I’ll be making this again soon!

  20. Darla says:

    Made this for my husbands side of the family on Thanksgiving. Big hit. His bachelor uncle kept hinting that he would like some to take home and just eat it with a spoon. My son asked me to make another batch that he can take back to his dorm room on Sunday. He wants to share it with a young lady he’s been spending a lot of time with. That’s a ringing endorsement to me!

  21. Alicia says:

    After seeing a few very similar recipes online, I made this for one of our Thanksgiving appetizers. Silly me thought that 2 jalapenos (leaving the seeds in one) would be more up our alley, since we love spice and live in AZ. I think I must’ve used the spiciest jalapeno ever, because the whole bowl was flaming-hot-spicy. I didn’t want to throw it out, so I decided to pulse in about 3/4 of a can of crushed pineapple to temper the heat. It turned out amazing! It was an absolute hit, and everyone was hovering over it snatching more. Just thought I’d share in case someone else overdoes the spice-factor.

  22. Deb says:

    A friend of mine brought this salsa to a Thanksgiving get-together for a couple families. It was OUTSTANDING! I couldn’t get enough and had to find out where she got the recipe! She sent me here to your great site! Thanks!

  23. Jamie Belnap says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! It is amazing and a HUGE hit as a Thanksgiving appetizer and as a complement to the turkey. We all ended up skipping the cranberry sauce and eating our turkey with this instead. It will be a Thanksgiving staple for us from here on out.

  24. Allison says:

    Mmmmm! This was a hit at our family Thanksgiving pre meal (while waiting for the people and food to arrive/finish cooking) Thanks Aunt Marilyn! It is a winner! Will be made again next year! Oh, and it’s not too spicy if you take out the seeds! Even my sister (who doesn’t like spicy stuff) enjoyed it!

  25. Wow this sounds super yummy. I bet it would be excellent on some leftover turkey tacos!!! Thanks for a great idea.

  26. trish says:

    For those who don’t eat refined sugar and/or don’t have applesauce on hand, 1/3-1/2 cup honey worked beautifully in this recipe!

  27. Amanda says:

    I made this salsa over the weekend and it was a hit! I left out the jalapeno since most of my family does not like any ‘kick’ but it turned out that even with the red pepper it had like zero kick and was more sweet than anything. It also turned out that the people who liked the salsa were the same people who would have liked a little kick, so jalapeno next time is in! I chopped the ingredients to about a quarter inch before putting them into the food processor and that worked well. I will go lighter on the cilantro next time (but that’s just because I’ve never been a big fan of it). Overall it went over great, was super super easy to make and I think I’ll be keeping the recipe for next year’s cranberry season!

  28. Liz says:

    I made this today and it is as good as advertised!

    Also, I’m travelling in my motorhome…forgot my mini-prep chopper so I chopped with a knife…not as quick, but it worked. I made 1/2 recipe for just me and had to stop myself from just eating it all. Thanks, Mel and all who contributed to this recipe!!

  29. Rachel says:

    I’ve made your “other” cranberry dip for years now and family and friends ALWAYS ask me for the recipe. Do you like this one better? I see it uses red onion and apple instead of the green onion…just wondering if I should venture out? Love everything I’ve ever tried from your site.

    • Mel says:

      Hey Rachel, it’s not terribly different from the other; maybe I just needed a change but I think this one is so refreshing and lovely. I’d say try it. 🙂

  30. SVF says:

    If I remember correctly, a friend of mine pours cranberry salsa over room temp cream cheese, and serves it as a spread with crackers. It is fabulous!

  31. Karen K says:

    Would this be good smeared on bread with turkey & spinach?

  32. Kim in MD says:

    Yum! This looks scrumptious, and is definitely a “must make immediately” recipe!

  33. Wow, this looks good! What a great twist on salsa. Definitely going to try it!

  34. Susan from WA says:

    I’ve had a secret longing to find a tasty cranberry recipe for years (traditional cranberry sauce is NOT tasty – sort of like eating green apple skins with syrup – and they are too watery to use in fruit smoothies). Cranberries and cilantro?! I can totally see this texture combo working. Ingenious, Mel!

  35. Would this be good to have with your turkey at thanksgiving or just for chips?

  36. Carole says:

    Is that 14 cups of cilantro or 1/4 cup cilantro?

  37. This sounds so good, Mel. Would you say this is sweet? Tart? Or maybe a combination? I’m trying to gauge whether my husband would go for this. I made cranberry sauce last week, and it was way too tart for him. I feel this strange need to make a cranberry lover out of him…

  38. Debbie A says:

    Oh yummy! Thank you for sharing what sounds like an awesome salsa. I and my family just love your recipes Mel. You’re my virtual cook book.

  39. Kattie says:

    I am assuming the recipe calls for 1/4 C cilantro, not 14 C!!! Can’t wait to try this, looks so good.

  40. Anne Schofield says:

    This is the swank-ified version of your cranberry jalapeno dip, right? I just love recipes that make people cry. Nothing is finer than food that brings your audience to tears.

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