Cranberry poblano salsa DSC8878

Cranberry poblano salsa

Cranberry sauce for many means this: a tubular, red, gelatinous substance that slithers out of a can, shiny ridges included free of charge. You’d think with so many people interested in fresh, local foods that it would be a relic from the past, a candidate for the museum of regrettable edibles. But I know it’s still a popular holiday item because this time of year you see stacks of this canned product on prominent display at grocery stores, Whole Foods included. Why? Why? Why?

I grew up thinking this was the only way to prepare cranberries and it scared me (much like marshmallows on sweet potatoes). I always said, “No thanks,” and loaded up on more stuffing instead. Which is a shame, because nothing complements turkey and cornbread stuffing better than the tang of cranberries—it’s the trinity of Thanksgiving flavor.

Cranberry poblano salsa | Homesick Texan

What changed my mind (and my palate)? A recipe I found in Bon Appetit many years ago. It mixes cooked cranberries with poblanos, cilantro, orange juice and pecans creating a spicy, sweet, and tart salsa that’s terrific with turkey, but also plays well with pork, tamales, or even tortilla chips. And while I know now that there’s a whole world of things you can do with cranberries, I still always return to this salsa—my first cranberry love, if you will.

5 from 3 votes

Cranberry poblano salsa

Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 poblano chili
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 12 ounces cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Salt


  • Roast the bell pepper and Poblano chile under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place the peppers in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chiles steam for 20 minutes. After the chiles have steamed, remove from the bag and rub off the skin. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and dice.
  • Meanwhile, place the sugar, orange juice, water, and cranberries into a large saucepan and toss until the sugar is evenly distributed over the cranberries. While occasionally stirring, cook the cranberries over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Taste and if the cranberries are way too tart for your liking, stir in more sugar, a tablespoon at a time.
  • Once the peppers are ready, stir them into the cranberry salsa along wit the orange peel, pecans, cilantro, cayenne, and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings. Can serve either warm or chilled. This can be made ahead and will keep 4 days in the refrigerator.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I had never had the cranberry log until I was ten years old. My mom has always made this ridiculous cranberry sauce that consists of three things: 2-3 lbs of cranberries, 1 cup of brandy, and 1 cup of sugar. Mix it all together and bake at 350F for an hour. Die of happiness.

    It's also excellent over vanilla ice cream, and even over pancakes.

  2. Victoria rains says:

    For my cranberry sauce i just use berries, sugar and water, but i also serve the canned stuff as well for those that don't like the berries…either tastes great on turkey sandwiches …and in fruit smoothies. I cant wait to try your cranberry salsa recipe! Thanks, Victoria Rains

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I think I have made the best cranberry sauce of all time. I roasted both poblano and a jalapeno….and did use toasted pecans instead of hazelnuts. I had to slap myself to stop eating this with a spoon to save enough for the family tomorrow. This recipe is so dang good. I love a recipe that starts out sweet and then reminds your palate that there is heat in there as well. This fills the bill. I'm thinking heavenly smoked turkey sammichs with this magic sauce on Friday. Thank you ma'am.

  4. Kristen Nelson says:

    This is *JUST* what I needed but wasn’t looking for. Thanksgiving this year is turkey tacos. I had planned on my standard cranberry sauce, but your salsa will be even better.

    Thank you so much for the recipe. And I’m going to say that having friends who are excited for Thanksgiving turkey tacos is something to give sincere thanks for.