Cranberry Salsa

~ This unique, festive Cranberry Salsa slashes the amount of refined sugar many other recipes use to tame the tart cranberries. Instead, succulent pineapple adds an ingenious, sweet counterpoint and a tropical, salsa-y flair. It’s a delicious, quick and easy holiday appetizer (and guilt-free, too)! ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Make Ahead    Vegetarian    Gluten Free    Paleo  

Closeup of salsa in bowl surrounded by chips, so you can really see the texture of cranberry bits with flecks of jalapeno and cilantro.

Easy appetizers are essential at the holidays. All those last-minute gatherings, office parties, and drop-in visitors require a constant stream of tasty nibbles.

We all need some no-brainer recipes that can be whipped together in moments … but that look and taste celebration-worthy.

Even better if they actually manage to be guilt-free, too. (More room for a couple Christmas cookies later!)

This fabulous Cranberry Salsa checks every single box!

Festive scene with salsa in bowl on a red-rimmed, cranberry-printed platter and nestled amongst tortilla chips.

Why You’ll Love This EASY Cranberry Salsa Recipe

Well … first off, because it’s truly so darn easy!

I’ve seen some recipes that require cooking the cranberries, but there’s no cooking to be done here.

Keep the ingredients on hand, and an attention-grabbing “wow … what’s this??” holiday appetizer is just minutes away!

And this salsa keeps well for several days, so you can make it ahead, too. No last-minute stress of making an appetizer as you rush out the door for yet another Christmas party.

Plus, it’s full of delicious, festive flavors …

  • Tart, fresh, crimson cranberries
  • Juicy, sweet pineapple and a kiss of honey
  • Kicky jalapeño (you can scale the heat up or down here … more on that in a sec …)
  • And, of course, those salsa regulars: red onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice to tie it all together

It’s uniquely delicious!

Side view of finished dip on wooden board, garnished with a tiny jalapeno slice and cilantro leaf, and surrounded by additional ingredients.

As if all that wasn’t enough to love: A huge added bonus is that this Cranberry Salsa recipe is actually better for you than many others you’ll come across, too.

How This Salsa Recipe Is Healthier

That golden, tropical pineapple not only adds sunshine-y, tropical vibes … it also helps to make this salsa better for you.

A lot of Cranberry Salsa recipes call for 3/4 cup to even a whopping full cup of refined, white sugar.

Instead, we use a bit of honey, which boasts some nice micronutrients, plus 1/4 cup of juicy, sweet pineapple. In addition to a wallop of vitamin C, pineapple has oodles of other vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Nice!

It all adds up to a much more nuanced, layered sweetness than you’d get with plain white sugar … and it’s a whole lot better for you, too!

Oh, and let’s not forget all that great nutrition riding along with the cranberries, onions, peppers, and cilantro. Produce for the win … especially when it tastes this fantastic!

Alrighty. Ready to blitz up a batch for yourself? You’ll only need a few minutes and a handful of ingredients …

Overhead of ingredients for the salsa: a cutting board with a cascade of cranberry, a bowl of chopped pineapple, limes, jalapeno, honey and cilantro.,

How to Make Your Cranberry Salsa

Step #1

Put your cranberries in a mini food processor (I like to use the smallest one in my Ninja set).

Pulse them just 2 or 3 times.

You don’t want them to be completely pulverized yet. It’s ok if there are still some big chunks.

Scrape down the sides of the processor and add your juicy pineapple.

Pulse it again, maybe just 2-4 times more, scraping down the sides in between pulses if you need to.

The exact consistency is up to you, but you’re basically looking for small, fairly uniform bits of both the cranberries and the pineapple.

Step #2

Scoop your cranberry-pineapple mixture into a bowl, and stir in all the other ingredients.

Overhead of bowl filled with cranberry mixture, with chopped onions, jalapeno and onion arranged on top and waiting to be mixed into the salsa.

And just like that … you’re done!

How easy was that???

Your Cranberry Salsa is delicious right away, so feel free to start dipping. Grab some crunchy, multi-grain tortilla chips, and get on in there!

Or ……

Making Your Salsa Ahead

If you want to make your salsa ahead, it’s also terrific (refrigerated) for up to about 3 days.

As it sits, it’ll release a little juice, so you may want to give your Cranberry Salsa a stir before serving it up.

After a day or two in the fridge, you’ll notice that the cranberry juice will turn the whole mixture a more uniformly vibrant crimson. Still gorgeous, but with not quite as many varied colors as you see in my photos, right after my salsa was freshly made.

Overhead of finished salsa in bowl on cutting board, surrounded by extra ingredients.

If your refrigerated, day-old salsa needs a color refresh, you can sprinkle a bit of minced cilantro on top for some extra (Christmas-y) green.

The flavors will also meld a bit as this salsa sits, but it’s honestly great either right after its made, or after being refrigerated for awhile. Your choice.

Oh – but I promised to tell you how to scale up the heat if you wanted it spicier, didn’t I?? Ok – let’s talk about that!

How to Make Your Salsa Hotter (or Keep It Mild)

Most of the heat in jalapeños (and other chile peppers) is in the internal ribs and seeds, especially as you get closer to the stem end.

To keep this Cranberry Jalapeño Salsa nice and mild, simply remove all of the seeds and white ribs from your jalapeño before mincing.

Pro Tip: Jalapeño Handling

An easy way to remove those seeds and ribs is to slice the jalapeño in half vertically, and then use a spoon to scrape them out.

For safety, though, it’s best to wear rubber gloves when you do this, to protect your skin. And definitely be sure not to touch your eyes and face before you’ve washed your hands well after handling chiles. {OUCH!}

If you’d like to add some heat to your salsa, reserve some seeds and minced internal ribs, and add a little bit of them at a time, until your salsa is as kicky as you’d like.

Halved jalapeno on cutting board with seeds and ribs removed and divided, and a couple cranberry nearby.

I’ve been surprised how just a tiny bit of the seeds and ribs jumpstarts a good pop of heat. So, I definitely recommend going slowly and adding just a smidge at a time. Stir it all through your salsa really well, and taste to see if it’s spicy enough, before adding a bit more, if needed.

More Super-Easy, Super-Festive Holiday Appetizers

Planning a big appetizer buffet?

Or maybe you’re the life of every party and get allllll the holiday invites … and therefore need oodles of great recipe ideas?!? (Go, you!!)

Either way, I totally believe that the holidays require extra appetizer recipes because there are just so many snacking situations.

So, I’ve definitely gotcha covered on this one. Here are a few more of my quick-and-easy faves:

I’ve also got collections of terrific Party Food Appetizers from all across the Internet, plus a super-popular collection of holiday-themed, seriously CUTE Christmas Appetizers and (of course!) a collection of more than 20 ultra- EASY Christmas Appetizers, too.

Whatever type of appetizer you’re looking for … if you want even more, MORE, MORE great inspiration, I’ve got your back!

FAQs At-a-Glance

Can I Double This Recipe?

Absolutely! I often make a double- or even triple-batch. As written, my recipe makes about 1 cup, which is ideal for an evening snack or a small gathering. But, you can easily scale up the recipe to make more. Depending on the size of your processor, though, you may find it’s best not to process a large amount of cranberries and pineapple all at once, but to pulse them in batches.

How Many Cups of Cranberries Are in a 12-Ounce Bag?

You should get about 3 1/2 cups per bag.

Can I Make This Recipe Using Frozen Cranberries?

You can (after you thaw them first). The cranberry texture will be a little softer, but it definitely works in a pinch. However, because thawed cranberries tend to compact into the measuring cup more than firm, fresh berries, I recommend that you go with a scant 1 cup for this recipe if you’re using thawed (and you’ll probably only get a total of about 2 3/4 cups of thawed berries per bag).

Can I Adjust the Heat?

Yep! To add more heat, leave in some of the ribs and seeds from the jalapeño. (Read more details about this in the post above.) Kicky!

With this quick appetizer on deck, you’ll be party-ready all season long!

Two hands holding holiday party platter of tortilla chips and bowl of salsa, with extra jalapeno, cranberry and plate of chips visible below.

And with its unique flavors, your salsa is sure to attract attention and win plenty of “mmmmmmms” and wowwws” – while you’re stress-free and lookin’ like a holiday party pro. With more time to relax and revel!

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Please leave a star-rating in the recipe card below – I truly appreciate all your wonderful feedback!

Side view of bowl of salsa with whole cranberries, cilantro and honey to the side.

Cranberry Salsa

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes

This festive Cranberry Salsa ingeniously slashes refined sugar – succulent pineapple adds sweetness and salsa-y flair. Delicious, quick and easy (and guilt-free, too)!

  Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Make Ahead    Vegetarian    Gluten Free    Paleo  

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño (see note about adjusting spiciness)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/16 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a mini food processor, pulse cranberries 2-3 times. Scrape sides and add pineapple, pulsing 2-4 times more until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Scoop cranberry mixture into a bowl and add all other ingredients, stirring to combine.
  3. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.

Notes

Jalapeño spiciness (adjusting heat): The exact heat varies a little from one jalapeño to the next, but if you remove all the interior ribs and seeds they're not very spicy at all. For a mild salsa, completely remove all seeds and ribs from your pepper. If you'd like a little more heat, I recommend adding just a few seeds and a tiny bit of the minced ribs at a time. Taste and add more until your desired heat level is reached. (Go slowly, as a little can add quite a bit of heat.)

Adjusting yield: This recipe, as written, makes a modest 1 cup of salsa, which is great for a small gathering. It's easy to scale the recipe up, and I often double or even triple the recipe for larger groups or to keep some on hand in the fridge. Depending on the size of your food processor, it may work best to pulse large amounts of cranberries and pineapple in batches. (Note that a typical 12-ounce bag of cranberries equals about 3 1/2 cups of berries.)

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 servings Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 27Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 0g

Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

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Published on
Updated on January 18, 2022
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