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.
Cranberry Jalapeno Relish 28 October,2015Stephanie Hua

  • Morgan Holly

    This sounds delicious, but I’m the only one that really like cranberry sauce in my family. I was wondering if you had any idea if I could freeze part of this, or can it maybe, so I wouldn’t have to eat all of at once or throw some of it away. If not, then I will be gifting it to others, because this sounds too good to pass up.

  • Randolph scott

    I made this for Thanksgiving. I did change it a little bit and cut way back on the sugar and used only 1 cup. We loved it and it gets better the each day. I would suggest making this dish at least 3 days before you intend on serving it.


Stephanie Hua

Stephanie Hua is the creator of Lick My Spoon, a place for all things delicious. So far she has learned that she very much enjoys salted caramel anything, a good soup dumpling is worth a scalded tongue, and there is no room in life for non-fat cheese and crappy chocolate. Also, a barrel of cheese balls never ends well.

Stephanie has been known to choose her company based on how much they can pack it down. Ability to endure cramped quarters, sketchy back alleys, and uncharted paths to seek out that special dish is also a plus in her book. If you fit the criteria, drop a note. You’ll probably get along just fine.

Stephanie’s writing and photography have been featured in Fodor’s Travel, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Serious Eats, and Sundance Channel. Follow her on Facebook and @lickmyspoon.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor