Jalapeno Orange Cranberry Sauce

Continuing on with my line up of not-so-traditional holiday sides, I thought I’d bring you a pretty little bowl that just bursts with color and flavor.


The great thing about side dishes like this, is that they’re not so off the beaten path that no one recognizes them, they are just amped up a little.  Well, sometimes a lot.  But they’re always just right.

This recipe lets you turn boring old cranberry sauce that is just so loaded up with white sugar it barely remembers it’s former life as a fruit, and make it instead, something really eye catching, flavorful and memorable.

It’s great to dunk a piece of turkey into what you are thinking is that same old cloyingly sweet stuff your mother used to make, and then to get something just enough different that it strikes up a bit of dinner conversation.  “Ooo what’s in this cranberry sauce?  It has such a zing to it”.

I think of cranberries as a bit of a blank canvas.  This year it just struck me that the sweetness of oranges, paired with the freshness and heat of the jalapenos, would really provide the wow factor my dinner needed.

I think it worked just beautifully and it really took no more effort that the regular stuff.  In fact, I wouldn’t even give yourself Carpal Tunnel Syndrome opening up a can of that jelly stuff this year.  Put your effort into chopping up some bright green jalapeno peppers, and running an orange against a rasp.  Doesn’t that just make it sound more fun and special?


Holiday flavors lend them selves so gracefully to the add a little of this and a little of that type of cooking, because by the ways of the universe, that’s how we eat this very special meal.  The mashed potatoes, bumping into the dressing that finds it’s way in between the thick slices of turkey on your plate.  Brussels sprouts next to corn casserole, intermingling like they were meant to be plated that way, gravy shamelessly poured over the whole plate like there will never be another time on this Earth that you get to eat gravy.  It’s a good life.

I love the way traditional thanksgiving food has such a richness of flavor that is so appealing, that people just know they aren’t leaving your house without popping that top button.  A Thanksgiving plate is so full of the best elements of the season, it’s vibrant hues, the earthiness in the herbs, all topped with the cream and butter that reminds you it’s time to get out the sweatpants!

Cranberry sauce is so important to this meal because it helps cut some of the richness and has a way of bringing out all the flavors of that painstakingly cooked bird.  It’s a burst of crimson on a bit of a brown plate that could use a little livening up.  Think of it almost as a palate cleanser that gets you ready for your next bite of sausage dressing.

I hope the recipe inspires you to try something new in your cranberry sauce this year.  Even if you don’t use the elements I did, come up with some flavors you love and generously add them in.   You will be so glad you did!

Jalapeno Orange Cranberry Sauce


  • 16 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 Cups water
  • 1 large or 2 small Jalapenos, minced
  • 1 cup Sugar (or more to taste)
  • the juice and zest from one orange


  1. Place the water, jalapenos, and sugar into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the cranberries and orange juice and cook over medium until the cranberries have mostly popped and the mixture is thick (about eight minutes).
  4. If the sauce is not sweet enough for you, it is perfectly ok to add more sugar.
  5. Remove from the heat, place into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  6. When ready to serve garnish with fresh jalapeno slices and orange zest.



  1. Rosann Havey says:

    Ray and I could have eaten this by the cup and he is very particular about his cranberry sauce. I think he inhaled what we brought home because I only got a teeny bit.

  2. Cranberries with a little heat is wonderful.

  3. Yum!

Speak Your Mind