Cranberry Jalapeno Relish

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 9 years old.


One of my favorite parts about writing a food blog is that friends (and strangers for that matter) will often offer unsolicited jewels of their favorite eating experiences. It’s awesome. There is nothing like it when someone recounts a memorable dish or ridiculous meal they just had. Their face lights up, they get all excited, and when the orgasmic noises start up, I know it was really a good one.

This is what happened a few weeks ago when I dined with my old friend, Mark. The swoon-worthy topic of conversation? Cranberry Sauce.

I know what you’re thinking. Of all the delectable things on the table at Thanksgiving, we’re talking about cranberry sauce here? Correct. Because this is not your average, ordinary, just-a-side cranberry sauce. It’s not even a sauce. It’s a relish. Auntie Louise’s Cranberry Jalapeno Relish to be exact.

Cranberry relish
Cranberries in the food processor


Mark fell in love with this sweet-tart delight when he dined one year at our friend Gen's house. Gen was kind enough to share his auntie’s secret recipe, and for that I will be forever thankful because this cranberry relish will be the stealth favorite this Thanksgiving!

Cranberry relish
Relish cooking down

It is everything I ever wanted in a cranberry sauce. Sweet (but not cloyingly sweet), tart (but not mouth-puckering tart), and just a little out of the ordinary. The garlic and shallots bring a welcome savory element to the mix, and the heat of the jalapeno has kick, but accomplishes it with subtlety and finesse – like a ninja.

And, the lime is brilliant. I wavered at the thought of adding even more acidity to cranberries, which are pretty sour as it is, so I decreased the amount from Auntie’s original recipe and added a bit more sugar to help balance it out. The result? The lime brought out the natural sweetness of the cranberries and complemented the jalapeno perfectly. I also took the liberty of adding the zest from the limes, since I am a firm believer that good citrus zest is a horrible thing to waste. It is full of essential oils that add a punch of flavor.

Another reason I love this recipe – this is the note that came with it:

“I noticed that this recipe has an alarming amount of sugar, but it’s Thanksgiving, which means that overindulgence is the spirit of the day.”

Hear, hear!

Auntie Louise's Cranberry Jalapeno Relish

Recipe: Auntie Louise’s Cranberry Jalapeno Relish
Sweet, tart, with a subtle kick of jalapeno and a twist of lime, this cranberry relish packs a punch of flavor. Recipe courtesy of Gen's auntie.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 10-12 servings


  • 24 oz fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes, plus zest)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 ½ cups sugar


  1. Pulse the cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Be careful not to over process because you don’t want the berries pureed.
  2. Add all the ingredients, except the cilantro, to a medium pot with a heavy bottom. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until thickened. Mix in the cilantro. Cool before serving.