Ole! Cranberry Sauce with Chiles

Ole! Cranberry Sauce with Chiles


‘Tis the season.

You can’t have Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving–what a great idea!) without cranberry sauce and this cranberry sauce recipe is a stunner with a bit of a southwestern kick–chiles.

Cranberries are, of course,  a part of America’s history. Reportedly, cranberries were served at the first Thanksgiving celebration although there is no proof that actually happened. Whether pilgrims actually ate cranberries or not at that first feast, cranberries were, without a doubt, a distinct part the early American food story. One of only a few native North American fruits, these bitter-sweet fruits were an important part of the native American diet, often served with venison.

Once cranberries caught on among the new arrivals in America, subsequent American settlers co-opted the fruit and turned it into the ubiquitous sauce that graces just about every Thanksgiving table–sometimes, sadly, as that ridged gelatinous mass that wiggles out of the can onto the serving plate.

This year, “just say no” –with apologies to Nancy Reagan– to that canned cranberry abomination and make this recipe or the one that I posted last year or anything other than the canned stuff. Anything! ( Not My Mother’s Cranberry Sauce)

Here is yet another cranberry sauce recipe from Blue Cayenne (Cranberry Sauce with Jalapeños).

It is not like you don’t have access to a lot of fresh cranberries to use in your Thanksgiving recipes. Americans consume about four hundred million pounds of cranberries each year with twenty percent of those cranberries being consumed during the Thanksgiving holiday. Today, about one thousand cranberry bogs provide the cranberries to meet the nation’s cranberry needs–a lot of those bogs being located in the Pacific Northwest. Competition is beginning to creep into the cranberry market, though, with  imports entering the market from Canada and Chile.

For the most part, all American cranberries are wet harvested. This means the bogs are flooded with water and the cranberries that float to the top are scooped up and sold by cranberry farmers. How cool is that?

An interesting website, kitchenproject.com, has a lot of information about cranberries and takes a kind of grim (and funny–if you enjoy dark humor) view the fruit: “Cranberries are like the ex-wives of the fruit world. It’s love at first sight, and then wham ! They hit you with an almost violent, face-contorting blast of bitterness that changes the way you ever thought about it.”

Whoa! Someone at kitchenproject.com needs a hug.


Cranberry Sauce with Chiles
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  • Zest of one lime (1 teaspoon) divided
  • 2 dried chiltepin, chile pequin or bird chiles (to taste) crushed in a spice mill or a mortar and pestle
  • 3/4 pound fresh cranberries
  • Zest of 1/4 orange
  • 1/3 cup sugar (more to taste)
  • 1 clove (crushed in a mortar and pestle or ground in a spice mill)
  • 1/8 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 ground nutmeg
  • Fresh chile peppers to garnish


  1. Zest your lime and set aside 1/2 of the zest for the garnish on your cranberry sauce.
  2. Using a large saucepan, combine all the remaining ingredients and 1/4 C. water. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until your sauce is thick. Stir often. Remove from the heat.
  3. Spoon your sauce into a serving bowl Let it cool and then garnish with lime zest and fresh chile peppers.


The chile pepper flavor in this dish is subtle as written. You can adjust the amount of chiles you use upwards if you want more heat.


Here is the link to the original Martha Rose Shulman recipe: Martha Rose Shulman’s Cranberry Sauce with Chiles


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