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 2 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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  1. i don’t serve cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, instead i will incorporate dried cranberries in the stuffing. like yvo, i grew up in asia, and thanksgiving feast is always something new, even getting familiar with turkey (except deli slices :)) is only getting to us recently. to tell you the truth, i’d rather eat rice 😀

  2. inflightsnack says:

    (inflightsnack was formerly known as east meets midwest)

    okay – i grew up with a mother who made homemade cranberry sauce, and i hated the real parts of the cranberries (mainly the skins that were easily detectible) and envied my friends sitting around their table slicing that smooth gelatinous cylinder… so, as with wonder bread, ham salad (a Pittsburgh thing) and mushy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (love to see that grape jelly soaked into the top of wonderbead) I have a soft spot for those ridges. not to say that I don’t appreciate the real thing – but it’s like a jelly donut. So nasty, yet you can’t look, or keep your fingers away.

  3. The County Clerk says:

    That jiggly tube freaks me out. Take a big wooden spoon to it, would dya?

  4. Hello, I just found your blog randomly. I’m also a homesick Texan, though living in Switzerland. I thought you might like to read my post…it’s very similar to your description of yourself. I have one called “Upside Down Chili Pie” and another “Someone send me an Enchilada”

    I feel for you–hope you get a big can of refried in your stocking this year!

  5. Yuck on the canned stuff. I just made some sauce on the stove: 12 oz. cranberries, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup orange juice, pinch of salt, zest of one orange. So much prettier than those scary ridges.